Pondering the Orioles' 2012 payroll

A lot of fans and reporters are wondering what the Orioles' total team payroll will be for the 2012 season. While the Orioles -and just about every other team out there - are very unlikely to disclose their projected budget for next season, we can at least make a good guess at where the Orioles are right now with their 2012 payroll.

In compiling some salary numbers from two excellent Web sites in Cot's Baseball Contracts and MLBTradeRumors, I figure the Orioles will be between $70 and $75 million for 2012 - and that is before they add any player not already on their 40-man roster.

As far as I can tell, eight Orioles on the 40-man roster are arbitration eligible: Jeremy Guthrie, Luke Scott, Adam Jones, Jim Johnson, Jo-Jo Reyes, Brad Bergesen, Robert Andino and Darren O'Day.

A player could be non-tendered by the club later, which would mean the team did not offer him salary arbitration and the player then becomes a free agent.

In researching Orioles' players through the two Web sites, here are some educated guesses at some salaries for the 2012 season.

Pitchers:
* Jeremy Guthrie, estimated $8.3 million in arbitration
* Kevin Gregg, $5.8 million
* Jim Johnson, estimated $2.5 million in arbitration
* Brian Matusz, $550,000
* Jake Arrieta, estimated $500,000
* Zach Britton, estimated $500,000
* Tommy Hunter, estimated $500,000
* Brad Bergesen, estimated $1.4 million in arbitration
* Darren O'Day, estimated $1.3 million in arbitration
* Jason Berken, estimated $500,000

That is $21.85 million for those 10 pitchers. The Orioles will have a pitching staff a little larger than that, of course. That list does not include several pitchers that may make the opening day roster, like Alfredo Simon, Zach Phillips, Pedro Strop and Troy Patton.

According to MLBTradeRumors, Bergesen just made it to qualify for Super Two arbitration status with his major league service time. That would make him eligible for salary arbitration this year for the first time and he would be arbitration eligible four times before he hits free agency.

Catchers:
* Matt Wieters, estimated $600,000

Wieters missed out on Super Two status by around 17 days of service time, meaning he will not be arbitration-eligible for the first time until after the 2012 season. This means the Orioles' decision to wait until late May 2009 to call up Wieters from the minors had the desired effect from a business standpoint in that it left him short of being arbitration eligible now.

Infielders:
* Brian Roberts, $10 million
* Mark Reynolds, $7.8 million
* J.J. Hardy, $7.4 million
* Robert Andino, estimated $1.2 million in arbitration
* Chris Davis, estimated $500,000
* Ryan Adams, estimated $500,000

This adds up to $27.4 million for these six players. Andino is arbitration-eligible for the first time.

Outfielders:
* Nick Markakis, $12.3 million
* Adam Jones, estimated $5.8 million in arbitration
* Nolan Reimold, $500,000
* Matt Angle, $500,000

That is $19.1 million for these four players. This does not include Scott, who is arbitrationeligible after making $6.4 million in 2010 and is a possible non-tender candidate. They could look to re-sign him at a lower salary for 2012.

The total payroll for the players listed above is $68.95 million for 21 players. So you have to figure the payroll at between $70 and $75 million just to pay for the 25-man roster.

The Orioles' payroll was around $87 million last season. I am certainly in favor of the payroll passing $100 million in 2012, as I have little problem spending someone else's money.

At that figure, maybe the Orioles could acquire the backup catcher they favor the most and add one or two free agents that are legit talents and not one-year stopgaps. I remain on the Mark Buehrle bandwagon, but if the reports are true that at least 10 clubs are already pursuing him, I'm not holding my breath for his arrival in Baltimore.

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