The Orioles have three arbitration cases scheduled for the next 15 days. One with pitcher Jeremy Guthrie this Monday, one with pitcher Brad Bergesen next Wednesday and one with outfielder Adam Jones scheduled for Feb. 17.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette would not speculate this morning on how likely the Orioles would be to settle on a 2012 contract with those players before hearings are held, but said the club is ready for the hearings if it comes to that.
The Orioles have not had an arbitration case with a player since before the 2006 season, settling each time before hearings were held.
Guthrie, who made $5.75 million last year, is seeking a $10.25 million contract for this season while the Orioles countered with a figure of $7.25 million.
Duquette noted the big difference in the two figures submitted.
"There is a sizable gap and the real issue in this case is that Jeremy Guthrie has been a dependable pitcher for the team and the team believes that they have compensated him appropriately," he said. "I'm not sure what the request for salary that Jeremy and his representative submitted, I'm not sure what that is based on."
So does the difference make it very likely that the Orioles and Guthrie will head to a hearing Monday?
"I wouldn't really speculate on that. Our first choice is to resolve it with an agreement between the parties. But in the event we can't resolve it, we will be ready to go," Duquette said.
Sometimes those hearings can be contentious and some say lead to potential hard feelings between the player and club.
"It's not really a concern of mine. It may be a concern of the player, but I think that we have shown proper respect for the player based on the offer we already submitted," Duquette said of a possible hearing with Guthrie and his representation.
Jones seeks $7.4 million in his case and the club posted a figure of $5 million after the outfielder made $3.25 million last season. Duquette said there have not been any contract extension talks with Jones yet, but did not close the door on that possibility.
"I've said several times that we like Adam Jones as a player and if we were to consider a long-term deal, that is something that we can certainly consider. But I think that we really need to get his compensation resolved for this coming year before we even consider that," Duquette said.
"I'm always hopeful that we are going to settle prior to a hearing and that would be our first choice, but you know, in these cases, it generally takes a little time and takes a willingness of both parties to be reasonable and I hope that's the case and we can settle. But if not, we are ready to go (to the hearings)."
Several reports recently have indicated the Orioles have been active in trade talks, but as of now, Duquette said nothing is coming close to fruition.
"Well, we are always looking for opportunities, but I don't know that we have any trade options that are really bubbling to the top right now."
Duquette would not comment on whether the Orioles are planning to meet with Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes for contract talks and did not even want to comment on whether the club sent scouts to watch Cespedes this week.
Update: The Orioles are expected to officially release right-handed pitcher Rick VandenHurk tomorrow. He has been put on release waivers for now and another team could claim him before his release. VandenHurk was designated for assignment on January 24th and removed from the 40-man roster when the Orioles signed Wilson Betemit.
Last year, the 26-year-old VandenHurk went 0-0 with an ERA of 8.00 in four games and nine innings in a September callup to Baltimore. He went 9-13 with an ERA of 4.43 in 26 starts at Triple-A Norfolk last summer.
Note to readers: I am having issues accessing your comments today to respond to them. We are working on the issue. It seems you are able to post some of them, but I can't publish some others or respond right now, but the problem should be fixed soon, so keep them coming in the meanwhile.
Coming tomorrow: I will post a story with quotes from Duquette on the Orioles signing this week of 17-year-old Korean left-handed high school pitcher Seong-Min Kim.