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November 23, 2010

Orioles don't offer arbitration to Uehara or Millwood (updated)

The Orioles have decided not to offer arbitration to free-agent reliever Koji Uehara or starting pitcher Kevin Millwood.

Both were Type B free agents, meaning if they were offered arbitration, didn’t re-sign and went elsewhere, the Orioles would receive a supplemental pick (in between rounds 1 and 2) in the 2011 amateur draft.

Therefore, the Orioles will receive no compensation if the duo goes elsewhere.

The Orioles want Uehara back, but presumably at a lower salary than his $5 million last season -- he signed a $10 million, two-year deal before the 2009 season. The 35-year-old right-hander was 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 43 games. He walked just five batters while striking out 55 in 44 innings. When put in the closer’s role, Uehara excelled, saving 13 of 15 games.

But his inability to stay healthy -- he was on the DL twice in 2010 and pitched in just 12 games in 2009 while in the starting rotation -- is a concern.

Millwood, 35, was 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 31 games for the Orioles. He made $13 million last season in the final year of a deal he signed with the Texas Rangers.

The club’s other five free agents -- Ty Wigginton, Cesar Izturis, Julio Lugo, Mark Hendrickson and Corey Patterson -- did not qualify as A or B players, and therefore the club would receive no potential compensation if they sign elsewhere.

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Posted by Dan Connolly at 6:22 PM | | Comments (26)


just another example of ignorance, hey maybe willie can still play

Unless the O's sign Uehara themselves, this is a big WTH?????

Dan maybe you could explain the logic here. Uehara was injured for much of this contract but it was mainly when he was used as a starter. Once he was converted to the closer he was nearly lights out. Someone with those stats would get the money the O's are unwilling to pay him. We would have also received a draft pick if given arbitration.

I can't help but believe that this is a case of the O's being cheap and not willing to spend money to improve the product.

While in some cases I understand them not breaking the bank on a player, but this one just doesn't make sense other than being cheap. Disappointing.

Of course not -- why would the Orioles want something as worthless as extra draft picks?

(That's sarcasm.)

Seriously: Uehara and MIllwood are Type B free agents; Millwood is coming off of an awful season. There's literally no reason -- other than criminal negligence -- to not offer them arbitration.

This is mind-boggling stupid. Although I guess there could be an "unless".

A one year deal with Koji at market rate (even assuming it's $6 to $7 million) would be great -- not a long term commitment which protects you if he gets hurt again -- not breaking the bank numbers. So there really was no downside to offering arbitration -- you still can negotiate with Koji on an incentive laden deal. You would also "chill" the other teams a bit due to the compensation.
The arbitration offer also leaves open the door that presumably a negotiated deal would have had to be higher or longer term, so no harm to Koji.

Since it's so obvious that offering the arbitration makes sense, I can only assume there must have been a back door deal with Uehara that was made. Perhaps, in exchange for not cooling his market as a Type B, the O's got a commitment that Koji would give them the "right" to match any other 2-year offer. Or something like that.

I actually find this decision (if there is not some back door deal) to be upsetting. Uehara was arguabl+y the BEST PITCHER IN BASEBALL over his last two and a half months as an Oriole. From mid-July to the end of the season he K'd 40 and walked none. That's N-O-N-E. That is truly unheard of -- even for Cliff Lee.
The BEST kind of deals a club can make are the deals that are market rate deals for ONE year. The O's had a chance to do that here and it's the absolute ideal scenario for doing so.
If Koji is not re-signed at say 2/$10 million or similar, this is just plain idiotic.
Hope I am missing something.

I'd love to hear an explanation for this - not offerring it to Millwood seems just sort of dumb, but the Koji situation is completely idiotic. Does MacPhail not care about compensation draft choices?

Jeff Z's reply: There is a lot going on now and I'll try to blog more about it tomorrow. Essentially, the O's feel that Uehara would have accepted the offer and been given a decent raise on the $5 million that he made last season. They don't feel comfortable paying him that much knowing his injury problems over the past two seasons. THey'd prefer to get him back on a one-year, incentive-laden deal.

If they don't bring back Uehara, it's a mistake. The guy was lights out during the final 2 months of the season and a potential closer on a club whose bullpen was more down than up last season. Not sure what is going on here.

Koji began as a starter which probably led to the injuries. Using him in the pen, he's invaluable.

This is a pretty bonehead move. Our pen is in trouble and we let Koji walk with no compensation. Mike G. hasn't proved he can reliably close. Hernandez is still unproven to close and will probably be sought out as trade bait. Berken is coming off arm trouble. Letting the most solid bullpen pitcher we've had for awhile go is ridculously stupid at this point.

We drop a proven commodity for unknowns. We have no problem giving Atkins almst 5 mil last year, but god forbid a guy who actually performs asks for the same money.

It's not like our budget is bursting at its seams. This should have been a no-brainer.

not offering arbitration to Uehara makes sense only in the sense that he was signed as a starter and ended up a bullpen specialist and was only part time due to injuries. with the way arbitration works he could have gotten a raise and still not perform up to the level of his pay scale. hopefully they can resign him to something incentive laden for actually being on the field but He is probably gone to some team reaching for a bargain. no wait that's the O's m.o.

3B Eric Chavez is reported to be fully recovered.

Adrian Beltre:
Seasonal Averages (per 162 games played)
11.33 162 607 81 167 35 2 25__89_46_103__10_3_.275_.328 .462 _.790_ 16__ 280_108

Eric Chavez (per 158 Games Played)
8.15 _162 587 90 157_35 2__28_97_69_113_6__2_.267_.343_.478_.821_13__281_115

Beltre Wins: H +10, SO +10, SB +4, AVG +.8

Chavez wins: Runs +9, HR +3, RBI +8, Walks +23, OBP +.15, SLG +.16, OPS +.31, CS + 1., GDP -3, TB +1, OPS+ +7

Both Tied w/ 2B, 3B

6 Consecutive Gold Glove seasons 2001-2006. Chavez has lit it up the AL East year in and out. 5 years with an OPS between .850 - .898. Beltre has had ONLY 2 seasons over .836!! 7 seasons in the .700's & 2 in the .600's. We shouldn't give the Red Sox our 2nd rd pick for Beltre. Despite have great seasons in 2010 & 2004...he's too inconsistent you don't know what Beltre you're getting! From 2001-2006 Eric didn't have a WAR under 3.6. (6.4, 3.6, 5.7, 5.5, 5.5, 3.7).

Possibly there is an upgrade @ Closer in the plans? If we invested a bit more into our bullpen (like Soriano as opposed to the Mark Hendrickson's, Matt Albers of the world) we could be "closer" to competing. The last 3 years Soriano averaged a 10.2 K/9 rate.
Dan Pleasac mentioned that the Orioles should sign Rafael Soriano on the MLB network. The O's had 44 BLOWN SAVES (2nd WORST in the MLB).
Soriano hasn't had a season ERA over 3.00 since 2004. Led the AL in saves w/ 45 this year. Closers don't get enough credit for playing mentally on hitters minds. After about the 5th inning, hitters start thinking "if we don't get it done soon it's over...that Soriano guy is lights out".

You know, this off season has really been disappointing. They let Victor Martinez get away. They don't lock up Koji. They haven't signed or communicated what they are doing. If I were another team I would go after Koji for more than $5mil in that closer role. I'll bet the O's will have to pay more for him given the competition. If the O's don't bring him back and bring in some other lamduck closer I will know they are not serious about winning and I will move on because I am tired of investing my emotional energy and money to watch the O's continue to lose. The O's really need to step it up and reassure it's fanbase. Without it's fanbase the O's are nothing. Do they get that? If Koji's injuries are more related to his starter role they should have locked him up already, but if he is generally injury prone than they did good not to offer arbitration. You know Millwood wasn't really that bad. He probably got tired of the tremendous lack of run support. It was right not to offer him arbitration. I just can't believe how they let Victor Martinez get away for under $2 million. That is really disappointing because that is probably about as close as they are going to get for the middle of the order lineup. They spot needs to be the O's number one priority no matter what else happens. Also, I would really hate to see david Hernandez go, especially for someone like Bartlett or that other guy. If he is traded it better be for someone who can really produce instead of some "stopgap". This is all from my laymans perspective. Go O's!

So here we go with this cheap front office. What the heck are they thinking. It shouldn't be in terms of Koji is his relief pitching where he made his name last season. Pay the man and stop being so damned cheap! He'll end up on some other team's roster.

In an offseason where the oft-injured Joaquin Benoit got 3 years and $16.5MM, the Orioles are just as stupid as we all fear if they honestly think they can bring him back on a one-year incentive-laden deal. Not going to happen. Some team is going to give him multiple years, and I can't believe MacPhail doesn't realize this.

This is not a big deal, people, lighten up.

For those who think they should have offered Millwood arbitration, and there are those who do, you must be kidding. The guy would kill to be offered arbitration, he would have made a hell of a lot more that way than on the open market. The Orioles might yet bring him back, but at a substantially reduced rate.

As for Uehara, sure he had a nice couple of months, but isn't it amazing that the same people who clamor that you can't judge the Orioles by the last two months of last season say that because Koji had a nice run, he's all of a sudden the end all, be all of the bullpen and we can't live without him? Puh lease. Oh, and it is quite possible he signs that deal because I don't believe that other teams are convinced he can get through a season without injury. The Benoit deal is night and day with Koji, and there are many baseball people who cannot believe the Tigers gave that guy 16.5 over three.

When are you people going to realize that the Orioles are making sound business decisions, based on signings they still have to make? You might think the Orioles are rolling in money but it doesn't mean you can just throw it out the window. The free agent process is just starting and a month from now, the Orioles will likely look like a different team. Let it go on at its normal pace and we'll see what happens.

I think not offering Koji arbitration was a mistake. If an arbitration hearing would have pushed his salary up, then that might reflect his true market value. In other words, the Orioles might find themselves out of luck if they want to give him a pay cut in normal free agency. And if he signs with another team, then they're out of a pretty nice pick (itself with considerable value, probably around $1 million). Basically, the Orioles are taking a gamble that they can convince Koji to take a pay cut and save $1 million or 2, when in fact that is unlikely to happen.

Not offering Millwood arbitration was a no-brainer: salary can only be dropped a certain percentage in arbitration, and whatever Millwood would have received there would be well above his worth. Good, but obvious, move there.


Salary can be cut as much as a team wants in free-agent arbitration (different than the 4-6 arb process). But an arbiter accepts one or the other, and if it is too low, that will hurt the club's chances in the hearing.

I know Koji was hurt on and off in his 2 years here, but when healthy he was very good! I thought he found his calling in the BP and I think this was bad mistake by the O's in not offering arbitration. If he gets say 7 mil a year, the O's can't afford it? Please!

Benoit who missed all of 2009 got 16.5 and he is a set up man so I think teams will be all over Koji including the Rays.

Andrew T hits the nail on the head. If anyone who wants to offer these two guys the kind of money they were making should buy part of the team and put up their own money to pay them. Or, better yet, what are they willing to bet that these guys will be worth the money next season? Put a little "skin" in the game and the tune usually changes. It is easy to spend Peter's money.

Koji was brought over from Japan to be a starter. His contract paid him starter money. Now, he's a reliever. An arbitrator may or may not know what difference that makes, but $5M for any reliever not named Mariano Rivera is more than likely too much.

I liked the way Uehara pitched the last two months of 2010, and I hope they bring him back. But for reliever money, not a starter's salary. Detroit can pay a set-up guy $5.5M if they want to -- a guy who's 33, less than 2 years removed from rotator cuff surgery and who began last year in the minors -- but that looks nuts to me.

Likewise, the Giants are probably going to be very unhappy with the new contract they awarded to Aubrey Huff. They will pay him almost as much the next two years as he made the last 4. Did they not see his numbers drop the last six weeks of the year? Did they not know how they got him so cheap last year, after he essentially stopped hitting from July on? Paying someone cleanup money doesn't make them a cleanup hitter.

Sucks about V. Martinez going to Detroit, the O's coming up a little short. But the article seemed to indicate he turned down an even better offer from the White Sox. Must have friends on the Tigers.

I'd take Eric Chavez, on a make-good contract. Those 162-game numbers are nice, but Chavez has only played 154 games. Over the last 4 years. Combined. With a back problem. Oy.

They are willing to offer Victor Martinez 48 million, but are afraid of paying an extra million or two for Koji??? That is juse being cheap right there. Glad to see the MASN money really helping out.

Unless Millwood agreed to not accept arbitration, there is no reason to offer it to him. Unless he truly wanted one more chance at the postseason and a WS, he would be foolish not to accept the arbitration offer as his salary would be guaranteed to be near his $13 million last year (decreases are limited to a specific % that I don't have handy at the moment).

However, I don't see why Uehara wasn't offered. They apparently want him back, but to say they want to bring him back on an incentive laden deal tells the real story. Out of 31 other teams, there is bound to be 1 that will give him a decent guaranteed 1 yr deal and in all likelihood a 2yr deal. Perfect example is Danys Baez last year signing a 2yr deal with the Phillies. Such a good pitcher, he didn't even make the postseason roster. Again, I think the lack of an arbitration offer tells more about the teams desire to have him back more than it does about the price to do so.

We're still a month from Christmas and already Peter Angeloscrooge is in fine form. Any chance we could trade him for Detroit's owner?

I can see it now. Opening Day. O's have slim lead going into the 9th. New closer comes in and starts throwing breaking balls in the dirt. A walk to start the inning and disaster results. I don't care about the walkoff HR's against NY, I want a closer that can throw strikes (actually I want starters that do the same). For all the money that has been thrown away, why are Angelos/McPhail quibbling over another $1-2 million? SIGN THIS GUY!!!

I still think not offering Koji arbitration is idiotic as I stated earlier.

But overnight, I figured maybe there is a logical explanation -- goes like this.

O's now -- after losing out on Martinez -- feel that Beltre is a must.

O's realize they are going to have to throw an extra $5 million or so to "get" Beltre.

Let's not risk a $7 MM deal for Koji at this point and use the saved funds to get Beltre.

Beltre signs -- Koji could still sign at a lower rate. And if he doesn't there are other closers out there (or at least decent bullen guys like Wood and Wheeler) who could fill the bullpen if needed.

If that is the logic, while I still disagree with it-- at least I would "get it".

You all are being much too hard on the front office. Right now they are basking in the afterglow of having successfully out bid every other team for the services of Josh Rupe. So you can excuse them for such minor stuff as gambling that they can successfully low ball Koji and still keep him. I mean now that they have Josh Rupe in the fold, Koji is just a little less

This offseason isn't over yet but why does it feel like it is? I know its early but I get the feeling that this is only the beginning of another mediocre winter.

Amazing how other teams sign players that they want while the Orioles make up a million reasons not to sign players. Then they try to justify average to below average players they bring in for meer pennies hoping for the "bounce back" year. There are times I really question if they care.

I usually don't press the panic button early but I just don't have a good feeling about this offseason at all.

I know its only Thanksgiving but.........

why do I get an uneasy feeling in my gut regarding the O's FO ? I dont want 'Fireworks , Promotionals , Giveaways , Reunions , Anniversaries , etc'
What i want is some freaking ballplayers !

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

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