The Orioles reduced their number of arbitration-eligible players to four Friday afternoon when they agreed to a $11.4 million deal with All Star closer Zach Britton, an $11.5 million deal with All Star third baseman Manny Machado and a $10.05 million deal with top starter Chris Tillman.
It represents a $4.65 million increase from the salary Britton earned in 2016, when he turned in arguably the greatest season by a reliever. It marked a $5.5 million increase for Machado, who placed fifth in the 2016 AL MVP voting and is one of baseball’s best all-around players. And Tillman receives a raise of nearly $4 million (from $6.225) after leading the team with 16 wins.
During the negotiations, the Orioles and Britton’s agent, Scott Boras, did discuss a potential multi-year deal, but those talks never went very far, according to an industry source.
Britton and Machado both have one more year of arbitration-eligibility remaining before potentially becoming a free-agents after the 2018 season. If he has another strong year, Britton could become a $15-million closer; at his recently agreed-to salary, Britton becomes the most expensive closer in club history.
Machado’s free-agent worth is expected to skyrocket even more with another quality season. Only 24, he could be looking at free-agent deal in excess of $300 million if he hits the open market.
Tillman is a free agent after the 2017 season and would be one of the more consistent winners available next winter.
The $11.4 million was not a huge surprise for Britton; it’s exactly the value predicted by mlbtradeumors.com earlier this offseason. The website predicted Machado would receive $11.2 million and Tillman, $10.6 million.
Machado’s settlement was first reported by The Baltimore Sun while Britton’s was first reported by Sportsnet.ca.
The Orioles have four arb-eligible players remaining — but were still working on potential deals as the 1 p.m. deadline to exchange arbitration figure passed.
Here’s a list of those remaining, their 2016 salaries and the 2017 predictions by mlbtraderumors.com
Brach: 2016, $1.25 million; projected 2017, $2.9 million
Gausman: 2016, $532,000; projected 2017, $3.9 million
Joseph: 2016, $523,500; projected 2017: $1 million
Schoop: 2016, $522,500; projected 2017, $3.4 million