More on the arbitration deadline and how it impacted Orioles

The “deadline” for arbitration-eligible players to reach agreement on contracts for the upcoming season deserves the quotation marks that surround it. Big, bold, permanent marks like tattoos.

Talk about a forced storyline. Talk about wasted energy.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette was 0-for-7 past the 1 p.m. “deadline” and signed five players later in the day. It just meant that the sides ventured into territory where salary proposals are exchanged. Negotiations can continue right up to a hearing.

The media obsesses and updates and, in some cases, mocks the entire process. I was 3-for-3.

zach-britton-black-side.pngThere was a significant gap between the Orioles and closer Zach Britton at 1 p.m. and he later agreed to a $12 million contract, a slight bump from the $11.4 million he made in 2017.

The $12 million ties Jonathan Papelbon, with the Red Sox in January 2011, for the highest total given to an arbitration-eligible reliever.

The immediate reaction among many fans to the Britton deal was confusion with a sprig of outrage.

How could they give $12 million to a guy who will miss half the season before becoming a free agent? Well, we don’t know the exact timetable for his return, but it doesn’t matter. I just tossed it in there.

The Orioles tendered a contract to Britton before the Achilles tear and subsequent surgery. He gets paid in full because the injury occurred while working out in preparation for the season, not from skydiving or during the Running of the Bulls. Duquette couldn’t offer Britton $2 million and wait for confirmation.

Just about everyone on the baseball planet gets a raise.

Manny Machado will earn $16 million after making $11.5 million last summer. MLBTradeRumors.com projected that he’d get $17.3 million.

Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson set the arbitration record yesterday at $23 million. But he made $17 million last year, giving him a big jump on Machado, who’s also a pending free agent. Donaldson also is a former Most Valuable Player in the American League.

If the Orioles failed to reach agreement with Machado yesterday, it wouldn’t have impacted trade discussions regarding the three-time All-Star. It wouldn’t have signified that they were more or less inclined to keep him.

The $16 million contract doesn’t increase or decrease his chances of staying in Baltimore through the 2018 season or beyond. It means nothing beyond having a set salary - with incentives possible - heading into free agency.

Lots of fans were trying to connect dots yesterday between arbitration news and trade chatter or extension possibilities. It’s only a worthwhile endeavor if it creates a pretty picture.

(I still don’t know whether Machado gets traded, plays third base or plays shortstop. If I had to venture a guess today, I’d say he’s the starting shortstop on opening day. But please don’t hold me to it. Just hold me if Major League Baseball decides to add a second “deadline” for arbitration-eligible players.)

The money spent yesterday in raises doesn’t suddenly change what’s available for pitching upgrades. I also shot down that suggestion yesterday.

The Orioles knew they had seven arbitration-eligible players after trading for Tim Beckham. They factor in the overall cost in their budget. I hear the same references to it every offseason. They weren’t caught by surprise yesterday.

Shameless plug alert: I’m on “Wall to Wall Baseball” from noon-2 p.m. on MASN.

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