Os take a Riske, arb thoughts & a few other tidbits

*In a move announced by his agency on Twitter, the Orioles have agreed to sign David Riske to a Minor League deal with an invitation to big league camp. Riske had Tommy John surgery in 2009 and was released last season by Milwaukee after appearing in just 23 games. This is another one of those low-risk moves that president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail has made all winter.

*MLB.com columnist Hal Bodley spoke to MacPhail about the direction of the organization and thinks the O’s are headed the right way. The full column is up here. And while you’re there, check out my Spring Training preview up here.

*The Orioles have two arbitration hearings scheduled for next week– Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie -- but look for both sides to try to reach an agreement before then. As MacPhail pointed out at FanFest his track record is one of avoiding these hearings and I’d be surprised if either case goes before a judge.

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about whether agreeing to terms with Vladimir Guerrero could hurt the money the Orioles can give to Guthrie and Scott and the answer is no.

Since nearly half (more specifically, $3 million of the $8 million, according to the Baltimore Sun) of that money is deferred the O’s will end up paying the $5 million –which is around what they originally offered — this year. The rest comes later. This year’s Guthrie/Scott projected salaries have already been budgeted for.

Also, all indications right now are that neither player will get more than a one-year deal —although longer deals have been discussed — so the organization isn’t getting itself into a bind by investing in a large number of future financial commitments.

As you’ve probably noticed, the Orioles haven’t given out a lot of those under MacPhail either. After the 2010 season there were only four players –Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz and Michael Gonzalez — who already had contacts for 2011. It’s called payroll flexibility, and when you’re trying to get to the point where you can make a run at premiere free agents, it’s a good idea.

*What happens now with Vlad in the lineup? MLB.com analyst Jim Duquette breaks that down here.

I’ll get into this more in this week’s inbox but it’s important to note that the organization doesn’t feel like bringing Guerrero means they have to trade away someone from the Scott, Nolan Reimold, Felix Pie group. While I wouldn’t rule out packaging one of these guys with a prospect and making a move, there’s not a lot of impact trades that go down in mid-February. It’s more likely that they let Reimold/Pie battle it out in Spring Training (with Scott pretty much assured left field) and go from there.

Keep in mind Reimold is coming off a disastrous year and has admitted he’s got a little chip on his shoulder this spring.He feels he didn’t get to show manager Buck Showalter what he can do and he’s eager for the opportunity to do so. If he has a nice spring it will be hard to send him to Triple-A. It could raise his stock and make him easier to trade. Don’t forget Pie has had trouble staying healthy and on the field; that could play a factor as well.

Right now the Orioles have something they lacked in 2010: depth. MacPhail is nothing if not deliberate and patient, and to quote the old baseball cliche, “these things always have a way of working out.”

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