Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette continues to work toward reaching contract agreements with his arbitration-eligible players before figures are exchanged this month and possible hearings are scheduled in February.
The Orioles will try to avoid hearings with Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Tommy Hunter, Jim Johnson, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters. Each player was tendered a contract before the midnight deadline on Nov. 30.
“We’re working on it,” Duquette said. “I don’t know if anything will get done today, but we’re talking.”
Davis made $488,000 last year while batting .270/.326/.501 with 20 doubles, 33 homers and 85 RBIs. He’s currently the favorite to start at first base on opening day.
Hammel made $4.75 million last year while going 8-6 with a 3.43 ERA in 20 starts. He underwent surgery on his right knee in July.
Hunter made $493,500 while going 7-8 with a 5.45 ERA in 33 games, including 20 starts. He allowed 32 homers in 133 2/3 innings. It’s possible that Hunter, who’s out of options, is used in long relief in 2013.
Johnson, who made $2.625 million, placed seventh in the American League Cy Young voting and 14th in MVP voting after going 2-1 with a 2.49 ERA and a francise-record 51 saves in 54 chances.
Matusz, who made $1.45 million and is in his first year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two, went 6-10 with a 4.87 ERA in 34 games, including 16 starts. He returned from Norfolk as a lefty specialist, and could resume that role next season. Left-handers batted .175 against him. He posted a 1.35 ERA in 18 relief appearances.
O’Day, signed for $1.35 million before Duquette was hired, went 7-1 with a 2.28 ERA in 69 games. He allowed 49 hits, walked 14 and struck out 69 in 67 innings, and pretty much handled the set-up duties late in the season.
Patton made $483,500 while going 1-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 54 games. Left-handers hit .212 against him.
Nolan Reimold, who made $490,500, batted .313/.333/.627 with six doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games. He didn’t play after April and underwent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his neck and fuse two vertebrae. He’s doing baseball-related activities and expects to be full-go when position players report to camp.
The Orioles renewed Wieters’ contract for $500,000 in spring training, and he responded by batting .249/.329/.435 with 27 doubles, 23 homers and 83 RBIs. He won his second Gold Glove, made his second All-Star team and finished 21st in MVP voting.
Also, Duquette confirmed that center fielder Adam Jones will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
Jones will have to leave camp when the games begin in March, but the Orioles have no reservations about him participating.
“It’s his decision,” Duquette said. “He indicated that he wants to play and we support that.”
Johnson turned down a chance to pitch for Team USA. Reliever Pedro Strop will represent the Dominican Republic.
The Sun first reported that Jones accepted Joe Torre’s invitation.
Update: Jones just sent the following tweet: “Yep it’s official. Get to play for #TeamUSA. Couldn’t be prouder to play for my country #WBC #StayHungry IM AN AMERICAN (Toby Keith voice)”
Jones will be featured on MLB Network’s “Top 10 Right Now: Center fielders” tonight at 9 p.m. The editorial staff and on-air talent, including John Hart and former Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken, determined the rankings using a number of factors, including offense, defense, upside and leadership. In addition, renowned author Bill James gives his personal list of the top 10 center fielders in the game.
The series continues at 10 p.m. with “Top 10 Right Now: Second Basemen” and each Friday with the top 10 at two new positions, leading up to the “Top 100 Right Now” on Feb. 15.
The Orioles may announce their minor league staff in the middle of next week. They still haven’t hired a minor league infield coordinator to replace Bobby Dickerson, who was promoted to third base coach.