Orioles will face crucial contract decisions

Orioles will face crucial contract decisions
July 23, 2013, 6:30 pm
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The Orioles would dearly love to extend Matt Wieters. He has two years before he hits free agency, and though there have been talks between his agent, Scott Boras and the team, an extension doesn’t look likely any time soon.

Boras’ group also represents Chris Davis, who’s also two years away from free agency. After this monster year, the club would probably like to extend him, too.

Some have even suggested that Manny Machado be signed to a long-term contract now before his price gets too high.

Nate McLouth, who was signed to a one-year, $2 million deal last winter, could be attractive next year, and there are some in the organization who would like to sign him now, perhaps for two years.

J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis come to the end of their deals after next season, and there has been some thought of trying to extend them, too. Jim Johnson hits free agency next year as well.

The Orioles will be faced with some difficult decisions in the next year or two, ones that fans around here haven’t been used to. They most likely won’t be able to afford all their favorite players.

Jason Hammel ($6.75 million) and Scott Feldman ($6 million) are both free agents, and it would be hard to see both or even one of them re-signing here. Brian Roberts’ four-year, $40 million deal is ending, and if he returns in 2014, it’s likely to be for drastically less.

Remove Hammel, Feldman and Roberts, and that’s $22.75 off the payroll, but Adam Jones moves up from $8.5 to $15 million.
Davis, Johnson, Wieters, Machado and Chris Tillman are all due hefty raises.

The Orioles’ payroll will rise in 2014. Currently, the Braves and Mets have payrolls about the size of Baltimore’s. Even if the team was fortunate enough to sign Wieters, Davis or Machado to a long-term deal, the market probably couldn’t support an increase of much more than $20 million.

The Blue Jays ($116.9 million), White Sox ($116.2) Cardinals ($112.5) and Nationals ($117.8) are most likely in the highest range the Orioles can pay, though their markets are larger. The Reds ($104.1 million) in a market the size of Baltimore is probably the most comparable situation.