Decisions looming on key contributors

The Orioles are opening their clubhouse to the media today at 12:30 p.m. A few players may wander inside to pack up their belongings before flying home. Most of them probably took care of it last night or made arrangements to have a clubhouse attendant ship boxes to them.

Manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette will conduct interviews in the dugout. Showalter will try to come up with some fresh responses. The wounds are probably fresh, as well.

This is the saddest day of the year for Showalter. Staring out at an empty field, knowing it won’t fill up later for batting practice and infield drills. Saying the last goodbyes until FanFest.

As Showalter says, it doesn’t have to come in words. Sometimes it’s just a look and a nod.

Saddest day of the year.

I’ll post quotes later this afternoon. I’d like to pass along a lineup, but Showalter won’t have one ready for us.

The Orioles have decisions to make on a variety of players. I’ve written about a few - multiple times, in fact - but I may as well repeat it.

markakis-high-five-black-alcs-sidebar.jpgI keep writing that the Orioles won’t pick up Nick Markakis’ $17.5 million option in 2015, but they will attempt to sign him to a multi-year extension. He wants to stay, his family wants to stay, Showalter wants to keep him, ownership loves him. It shouldn’t be complicated.

I’ve also said that the Orioles prefer to make a $15.3 million qualifying offer to Nelson Cruz rather than fork over a multi-year deal. He’s 34 and prone to leg ailments. They would get a draft pick if he turned down the offer. That’s the path most likely traveled, though they’ll keep the lines of communication open with his agent.

The Orioles will pick up the $4.25 million option on Darren O’Day’s contract and the $4.75 million option on Wei-Yin Chen’s contract.

O’Day is taking some heat from fans for his 7.00 ERA in September and two losses in the American League Championship Series. He allowed seven earned runs in nine innings in the final month of the regular season, surrendering three home runs, but opponents batted .171.

O’Day took the loss in Game 2 of the ALCS after allowing an infield hit. Zach Britton let the inherited runner score. O’Day stranded two inherited runners in Game 4.

Right-handers hit .164 against O’Day this season and left-handers hit .189. Was he as sharp late in the season as he was earlier? No. Should he have been kept off the playoff rosters, as a fan suggested to me last night? Absolutely not.

Early speculation has Andrew Miller landing a three- or four-year deal. He’s going to get sick closer money and I can’t imagine that the Orioles will match it for a set-up man.

I’d do it because it’s not my money and he’s worth every penny. The Royals reminded us how a dominant back end of the bullpen can take you far - along with great defense and speed. But the Orioles have another batch of arbitration-eligible players to satisfy and a new contract to finalize with Markakis. It will be difficult to fit Miller in the payroll. Plus, if he’s got a chance to close someplace else, he’s liable to take it if he’s compensated properly.

Give me your list of priorities, keeping in mind that you don’t have unlimited funds. If you want to keep the big-ticket items, let me know how you’re creating room on the payroll.

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