Although the 1 p.m. arbitration-filing deadline passed with no news, the Orioles took care of a lot of business Friday afternoon, agreeing to contracts with five of their seven arbitration-eligible players: Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Caleb Joseph and Tim Beckham.
Britton was the first to sign, agreeing to a one-year $12 million deal, up from $11.4 million in an injury shortened 2017.
Reliever Brad Brach, who made $3.05 million in 2017 when he took over as closer for an injured Britton and saved 18 games for the Orioles, agreed to a $5.165 million deal, that could increase to $5.265 million with incentives.
Then third baseman Manny Machado, who made $11.5 million in 2017, agreed to a $16 million deal that also includes incentives.
Catcher Caleb Joseph received a raise from $700,000 to $1.25 million and shortstop Tim Beckham received a hefty salary from $885,000 last year (with the Tampa Bay Rays) to $3.35 million for 2018.
That left the Orioles with two arbitration-eligible players Friday afternoon: pitcher Kevin Gausman and second baseman Jonathan Schoop. Gausman and Schoop have the same representation, The Legacy Agency.
Gausman filed at $6.225 million for 2018 while the Orioles countered with $5.3 million. Schoop filed at $9 million and the Orioles filed at $7.5 million.
This is the second consecutive year that Gausman and the Orioles didn’t agree on a contract before the filing date, but they ultimately decided on a $3.45 million deal before a hearing in 2017. Schoop agreed last year to a $3.475 million contract, but after a Most Valuable Oriole season in 2017 the second baseman will more than double his salary.
If Gausman and Schoop do not settle, they will appear before an arbitration panel at some point in February with the panel ultimately choosing the player’s salary figure or the team’s, which will be binding for 2018.
The Orioles had two hearings last year, winning one against Joseph and losing to Brach – the first time the club had lost an arbitration hearing since Ben McDonald in 1995.
Machado was obviously the most interesting case heading into Friday, considering he has been the subject of trade rumors in his last season before free agency. The $16 million salary is actually less than what Mlbtraderumors.com predicted ($17.3 million) and it doesn’t seem out of line for a 25-year-old with his pedigree. So that salary should not be a hindrance if the Orioles do trade Machado this year.
Britton’s was another case worth watching because he’ll be out until at least June, and maybe later, with a right Achilles injury which he tore in late December while running sprints.
Technically, the Orioles could have offered up to a 20 percent cut in Britton’s salary, but the 30-year-old pitcher and his agent, Scott Boras, certainly would have had a strong case before an arbitration panel that Britton didn’t deserve a paycut after an effective — albeit truncated — 2017.
Because they tendered Britton a contract before the injury, and because the injury occurred while in the capacity of preparing for the season, the belief is the Orioles would have to pay most, if not all, of his salary even if they cut him before the season. Otherwise they might have to deal with a potentially losable grievance – and still have to pay the salary. So, it made sense to agree to a deal now and hope he can return at his previous performance level in June.
MLB.com first reported the Machado agreement. USA Today and FanRag Sports first had the Schoop and Gausman filings, respectively.