Gary Thorne and Buck Martinez discussed the contract status of several current Orioles on the MASN game broadcast last night. It prompted me to look up the complete list.
Here's where the core veterans stand in 2009:
Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, and Juan Castro are free agents. Millar and Payton will most likely not be back; however, Millar could return if attempts at signing a free agent first baseman like Mark Teixeira fail, or if a first baseman isn't acquired by the Birds in some sort of trade.
Even then he might not be resigned as Aubrey Huff and Ramon Hernandez each have one year left on their multi-year contracts. We could see the two, along with a utility man like Oscar Salazar platoon at first.
Castro could be back---again---only if a shortstop isn't acquired through free agency or a trade. Right now, there are no major shortstop prospects in the Orioles farm system.
Several veteran players have one year remaining on their contracts. In addition to Huff and Hernandez, Brian Roberts, Jamie Walker, Melvin Mora and Danys Baez are all signed through 2009.
A handful of young/new players are arbitration eligible. That basically means they are still under the club's control, but their salary, if not agreed upon in negotiations, will be determined by an MLB arbitrator.
Those players are Nick Markakis, Daniel Cabrera, and George Sherrill.
Markakis should see a significant bump in salary. The Orioles will either sign him to a multi-year contract like the Marlins did with Hanley Ramirez, or an arbitrator will assign him a one-year salary based on his service time and production numbers. Markakis' stats will command top dollar.
Oh by the way--- Ramirez signed a six-year, 70 million dollar deal last May.
We could see the Orioles shop Cabrera around on the trade market. Some estimate Cabrera could be awarded between $4.5 and $5 million in arbitration for next season. Based on his inconsistency and recent arm injury, the Orioles would have to determine if he's worth that.
George Sherrill could try to get a multi-year deal out of the Orioles this offseason like Markakis and avoid arbitration. It's worth a shot. He'll be striking while the iron is hot as he made his first All-Star appearance in '08.
The problem is Sherrill has no leverage if the club says no. The Orioles have rights to him through the 2011 season. Only then will he become a free agent.
On a side note, the Orioles still owe Jay Gibbons 6.2 million dollars next year even though he was released before this season. There is still a year left on the four-year, 21 million dollar deal he signed in 2006.
You gotta love those guaranteed contracts.