A few notes: Hale, Hamilton, Ford’s contract, etc.
A few odds and ends in the final week before the baseball’s annual Winter Meetings take place in Nashville…
*In case you missed it, the Orioles lost third base coach DeMarlo Hale to the Toronto Blue Jays where Hale will serve as bench coach. Hale’s contract ended at the end of the season and the O’s had hoped to resign him, but couldn’t match the kind of offer the Jays had. A bench coach is also considered a promotion from third base. The Jays officially announced the move, first reported Friday night, this morning.
*Major League Baseball released the info for this past year’s playoff shares. The Orioles award 54 full shares for postseason bonuses, with the full share amount $34,825.61. They also awarded 5.85 partial shares and 25 cash awards.
*Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been named Major League Manager of the Year by the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA. He will be among those honored at the chapter’s 74th annual dinner on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Westin Copley Hotel in downtown Boston.
*The non-tender deadline is this Friday and the biggest question mark remains whether the Orioles will offer a contract to first baseman Mark Reynolds. If the O’s allow him to become a free agent, it’d be hard to imagine a scenario where Reynolds would re-sign in Baltimore, although not impossible. The organization is also in talks with retaining free agents outfielder Nate McLouth and left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, although –as of Monday morning — nothing is imminent on either front.
While Reynolds stands to make the most money if offered arbitration –with a figure projected around $9 million — the Orioles have more than a dozen arbitration-eligible players which will push the payroll to the mid-$80 million range and doesn’t leave executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette a whole lot of wiggle room to add from the free agent market.
So, what will the Orioles do? It’s unlikely the team will be able to make substantial upgrades on the free agent market, which is why Duquette has been in talks with potential trade partners and will continue to seek out the kind of under-the-radar signings that give Baltimore the chance to compete with its richer rivals. Toronto’s big spending this winter won’t push the Orioles to go above their means, with Showalter quipping that the club can continue to “be the Little Engine that Could” in the American League East.
If the O’s allow him to become a free agent, it’d be hard to imagine a scenario where Reynolds would re-sign in Baltimore, although not impossible. The organization is also in talks with retaining free agents outfielder Nate McLouth and left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, although nothing is imminent on either front. While Reynolds stands to make the most money if offered arbitration –with a figure projected around $9 million — the Orioles have more than a dozen arbitration-eligible players which will push the payroll to the mid-$80 million range and doesn’t leave Duquette a whole lot of wiggle room to add from the free agent market.
Even if the market price drops for the likes of outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke –considered the top two free available free agents – it’s unclear how much, if at all, the Orioles would be in the running. The organization isn’t interested in Nick Swisher and, beyond resigning McLouth and Saunders, the Orioles haven’t been linked with many free agents this offseason, although things are due to heat up next week in Nashville.
*Outfielder Lew Ford’s contract agreement with the Orioles for next season is for $120,000 and rises to $625,000 if he’s in the Majors. It includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training and an out if he’s not on the big league roster by July 15. Ford will be released upon his request after that date. If he’s not on the 25-man roster, he may sign with a Korean team for $75,000, with a Japanese team for $100,000 or be added to the O’s roster within 48 hours. If he’s in the Minors, the Minor League contract portion works out to $15,000 per month.
*The Aberdeen IronBirds, Class ‘A’ short season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, unveiled a new team logo today that will make its national merchandise debut at the Baseball Winter Meetings next Monday in Nashville.
“This logo represents a new era of IronBirds baseball in Aberdeen,” Cal Ripken, founder of Ripken Baseball, said in a press release. “We have a lot of exciting plans for 2013, while continuing to remain true to our core mission of creating memorable experiences in and around the game of baseball.”
Newly branded hats and t-shirts are currently available online and at “The Hangar,” the official merchandise store of the Aberdeen IronBirds.
“The IronBirds are evolving to continue to remain on baseball’s leading edge,” said Bill Ripken, co-founder and executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “This is why we wanted a fresh new look and feel to connect with families, and resonate with fans of all ages.”
The IronBirds have also officially announced their schedule for the 2013 season; Opening Day is Monday, June 17 at 7:35 p.m. Season ticket packages are currently available and offered through full season, half season and 9-game ticket plans.For more information about Aberdeen IronBirds new merchandise and to order 2013 season ticket plans, please call 410-297-9292 or visit http://www.IronBirdsBaseball.com.