Today is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette indicated recently that the Orioles will tender all nine of their players - pitchers Jim Johnson, Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Bud Norris, outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce, first baseman Chris Davis and catcher Matt Wieters. Of that group, only Reimold, Pearce and Patton were viewed as possible non-tenders.
Davis made $3.3 million this year. How much is he worth after crushing 53 homers, driving in 138 runs and being named a finalist for the Gold Glove at first base?
I’d gladly take his paycheck next year, but not the heightened expectations that come with it.
Talk about raising the bar. The poor guy will be viewed as a bust if he comes closer to matching his 2012 numbers, which included 33 homers and 85 RBIs. Folks will wonder whether he’s hurt or if this past season was a fluke.
Manager Buck Showalter already asked reporters, in a joking manner, to go easy on Davis next season.
Duquette and Showalter have been discussing the 40-man roster, which is down to one vacancy after Saturday’s trade for catcher Johnny Monell. If the Orioles take a player in the Rule 5 draft, which has become a pattern, they’ll have to create room for other acquisitions over the winter.
In other words, a starting pitcher, left fielder, second baseman and left-handed designated hitter.
Let’s take another look at the 40-man:
Kelvin De La Cruz
Give me your pick for the player most likely to be removed from the 40-man.
I’m surprised that Pearce will be tendered a contract, and that’s not a slap at him. It’s just that he’s been designated and sent packing in the past, and he’s always found his way back into the organization. I assumed that the Orioles would let him go and attempt to re-sign him later.
Obviously, they think another team would scoop him up, and they’d rather hold onto him. But that doesn’t mean he’s automatically going to break camp with them. He would still have to earn a job and he would still have to fight to keep his spot on the 40-man.
If you count the 22 pitchers currently on the roster, future additions and the expected handful of invites, that’s a lot of arms for new pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti to get acquainted with in spring training. The Orioles may need to build a few more mounds at the Ed Smith Stadium facility.
It’s unusual to find four catchers on the 40-man, especially in early December. If I’m Caleb Joseph, I’ve got to be wondering why I’m not in the group.
Joseph has plenty of supporters in the organization. They just haven’t gotten him protected in the Rule 5 draft.
Don’t assume that having four catchers on the 40-man is a sign that the Orioles will trade Wieters. I’ve heard that theory floated by fans, but it’s highly doubtful that Clevenger, Monell and Ohlman are viewed as potential starters behind the plate. They’re competing for the backup job. That’s it. And Ohlman is ticketed for Double-A Bowie.
Speaking of the Rule 5 draft, is it a good idea to take another reliever and give Showalter even less flexibility in the bullpen? He’s already got enough guys who can’t be optioned.
The Royals will pay Jason Vargas $32 million over four years. The Twins will pay Ricky Nolasco $49 million over four years and Phil Hughes $24 million over three years.
The Orioles need to make a stronger push for Bronson Arroyo, who reportedly has been contacted by seven teams, but still hasn’t received an offer. Arroyo is seeking a three-year deal, but there’s nothing wrong with offering two years and a vesting option.
Arroyo has worked at least 199 innings in each of the past nine seasons. He’s made at least 32 starts in each of the past nine seasons. He won’t require the Orioles to part with their young pitching prospects.
Sign him, pair him with Tillman at the top of the rotation and let everyone else fight for the last three spots. Heck, try to re-sign Scott Feldman and then use another starter or two to fill some other holes.
From what I’ve heard, the Orioles are inclined to hold onto Norris, acquired from the Astros at the non-waiver trade deadline. He’s under team control until 2016.
Without a trade, there’s nothing wrong with a heated competition among Norris, Chen, Gonzalez, Britton, Gausman, McFarland, Stinson, Steve Johnson, etc.