NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Two of the biggest teases for Orioles fans from these Winter Meetings were the news that the club had interest in free agents Nick Swisher and Adam LaRoche.
While you never say never, it sure appears the club had little interest in either player at the salaries they project to get via free agency. The Orioles did meet with Swisher's agent, but didn't meet with LaRoche or his camp here.
When asked about the club's budget for 2013 player salaries, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette would not provide a number. But he stated the club can and will spend enough to win. They won 93 games and made the playoffs last year on a total expenditure of around $85 million on the players.
A few times this week, members of the O's front office have mentioned the increase in dollars it is going to cost the team to keep its list of now nine arbitration-eligible players.
The figure often cited is that the group of nine will make about $22 million more in 2013 than they did last year. That dollar amount clearly impacts the club and takes quite a few dollars that they can't now use for others or other free agents.
I asked Duquette here today if the arbitration situation is handcuffing what the club can do in other areas. Click below to hear his answer.
Here are the salaries that MLBTradeRumors.com projects the nine arbitration eligible Birds getting in 2013:
$6.9 million - Jim Johnson
$6.5 million - Jason Hammel
$4.6 million - Matt Wieters
$3.3 million - Chris Davis
$2.2 million - Darren O'Day
$1.8 million - Tommy Hunter
$1 million - Nolan Reimold and Brian Matusz
$800,000 - Troy Patton
If I've counted correctly that is a total of $28.1 million. Last year, that group made around 12.0 million, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts Web site. That is a difference of about $16 million, not $22, but still a significant increase for the club.
The arbitration group is not keeping the club from making other moves, but we'd be foolish to think it doesn't factor in somehow. Of course it does. But as Duquette has said, they are paying raises to players that deserved them and that is how the arbitration system works if you want to keep your top talent. The Orioles have known for the last few years this would happen with players like Johnson, Matusz and Wieters. It is the price of keeping your young players.
The Orioles didn't do any big spending at these meetings and they may not over the rest of this offseason. That is still to be seen.
But when you cut to the bottom line the question remains - do they have enough payroll to win? They did last year and they feel they do this year.
That's a wrap: Click here to see a video wrap-up of the Winter Meetings from MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski and Roch Kubatko.