Os trying to trade Johnson?
The Orioles are expected to tender a contract to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players in advance of Monday’s midnight deadline, including outfielder Nolan Reimold who has missed most of the past two seasons with a pair of neck surgeries.
Reimold, who is progressing well in his offseason rehab, is part of a group that also includes closer Jim Johnson, catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, outfielder/first baseman Steve Pearce, relievers Brian Matusz, Troy Patton and Tommy Hunter and starter Bud Norris.
While most of the decisions are no-brainers, Reimold and Johnson are interesting cases. Johnson is projected to make more than $10 million in arbitration on the heels of his second consecutive 50-save season, despite blowing nine games in 2013. The right-hander’s salary is a sizable chunk of the Orioles’ payroll and, unsurpsingly, news emerged Monday that his stay in Baltimore could be short-lived as FoxSports.com tweeted that the organization was trying hard to trade Johnson.
One of the reported teams of interest are the deep-pocket Dodgers, who could absorb that salary and free up payroll for the O’s to make a move on the free agent market. It’s important to note that with nine arbitration-eligibles, and some due a significant raise, the Orioles payroll would already be close to $90 million even if they filled the rest of the big league roster at the league minimum rate. If the Orioles are going to address some of their holes -namely designated hitter, left field and the rotation— via free agency, freeing up some payroll would obviously allow them to explore some better options.
Teams have until midnight ET on Monday to decide whether to tender a contract their arbitration eligibles and even if the Orioles do that with Johnson they can still trade him later this winter. Monday’s deadline comes exactly a week before the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.