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February 7, 2011

More on how Guerrero deal got done

I had acknowledged Saturday, a day after the Orioles and Vladimir Guerrero agreed to terms on a one-year, $8 million deal pending a physical, that I couldn’t explain why, all of a sudden, the Orioles’ raised their offer from between $3 million and $5 million to $8 million when no other suitor for the free-agent slugger had publicly emerged.

I still don’t have all the answers, but I certainly feel a little more confident giving an explanation after talking to some people familiar with the process.

The Orioles’ top decision-makers, mainly owner Peter Angelos and president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, wanted Guerrero. Guerrero wanted to get paid what he felt that he was worth, and wasn’t wavering.

The Orioles, who had already exceeded their targeted 2011 payroll, simply didn’t feel like they could accommodate Guerrero’s desired $8 million over this year. So the Orioles figured out a way to make it work. They deferred $3 million of the $8 million , meaning they’ll owe Guerrero $5 million this season. As for the remaining $3 million, it will be paid out in two installments down the road. And by down the road, I’m not talking about 2012-2013. The arrangement satisfied Guerrero, who will ultimately get his $8 million, and his agent Fern Cuza.

This practice is not unprecedented. The St. Louis Cardinals will pay outfielder Matt Holliday $2 million annually deferred from 2020 to 2029 in annual installments of $1.4 million or $1.6 million, depending on whether his option for 2017 vests or is exercised, according to the extremely useful website Cot’s Baseball contracts.

If you are fan of this move -- and most people appear to be, judging by the various reactions we’ve gotten -- credit Angelos and MacPhail for compromising and figuring out a way to get it done, which is what my colleague, Kevin Cowherd, wrote today. They obviously looked around at the rest of the DH market and weren’t terribly excited about giving Guerrero $8 million.

However, while no suitors had emerged publicly, there was always the fear from team officials that some teams would jump into the bidding the longer Guerrero stayed unemployed. And that fear was only heightened when reports started surfacing Friday that the Texas Rangers, the team Guerrero drove in 115 runs for in 2010, were in talks to trade designated hitter Michael Young. This is my opinion more than anything, but it doesn’t seem coincidental to me that the Guerrero deal with the Orioles was compromised on the same day reports became public that a Young trade could be imminent.

One more thing about Guerrero: His physical, which would make the deal official, has not been scheduled. It has been complicated by the fact that team officials and team doctors are heading to the team’s spring training complex this week in Sarasota, Fla., where pitchers and catchers report Sunday. At this point, the best guess is Guerrero takes his physical next week in Sarasota, and meets the media down there.

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Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 2:12 PM | | Comments (43)


Thanks for this info, Jeff. Very insightful. I speculated early Friday that the Rangers seemed to be positioning themsleves for a run at Vlad, so I wouldn't be surprised if that helped the O's move things along.

There are some - in Baltimore and around baseball - screaming that the O's bid against themselves and vastly overpaid, but their protests came without the benefit of complete information.

This seems the best of both worlds - the O's get the player they sought, for approximately what their standing offer was for ($5M), and Vlad and his reps gets to save face by saying he got one year, $8M. Everyone leaves happy.

Good for Peter and Andy for getting this done.

thanks for the explanation, Jeff. I guess I was off=track a little in my original reasoning for the extra 3 million pesos for Vlad. For some reason I thought that the "unnamed team" that was in the mix for Vlad, was Toronto, and Andy and Mr. Angelos sure as heck did not want the Blue Jays (who owned us last year) to acquire Vlad. It made sense to me that Toronto Could have been in the mix since they had traded Vernon Wells. I'm delighted to have Vlad in our lineup and very impressed with the out-of-box thinking by Mr. Angelos and Andy to get him here


Speaking of spring training, did all of the work in both the major and minor league facilities get finished?

Still working on it we believe


You state that PA and AM wanted him. Are you aware of, or do you sense that Buck wanted him as well? Or on the flip side, do you think Buck would have preferred a better defender (Pie) in left?

Also, I see two players now who provide depth but based on age and cost would be candidates to be dealt before Opening Day - Izturis and Winn. Izturis is a nice backup, but we could easily slide Andino or Harris in there. And Winn - this year's Jay Payton - could get very little playing time here with Vlad as DH and Pie on the bench. Any thoughts on those two players? Thanks.

Jeff Z's reply: Buck was behind the move as well. Winn is a minor league signing. He has no trade value right now and if he did, he would have signed elsewhere and given an immediate Major League deal. Izturis doesn't really either. They signed him with Andino already on their roster. I could see a scenario where both make the Opening Day roster. But I would be very surprised if Andino makes the O.D. roster over Izturis.

What are the chances that Guerrero flunks his physical? We all know how bad his knees are. So at what point do bad knees = failed physical?

anything is possible. It's not an easy physical.


Thanks for clearing things up about Guerrero's physical. I was wondering when/how they were going to take care of that.

I should imagine that the Orioles are well aware Vlad has some physical issues. We all know about his knees, back, and wahtever else. And he still hit what he hit last year. So, you would have to think the Orioles are OK with Vlad's condition or they wouldn't have signed him.

My guess is that unless he's diagnosed with something like schistosomiasis or some other deadly tropical disease, he'll be fine.

You don't think, maybe, that the delay in the physical is to make it easier to add Guerrero to the roster without having to DFA anybody. If they can stall until the 26th, he could get Simon's spot.

Jeff Z's reply: Nope, I've been led to believe it is strictly a logistics issue.

In the end lowballing a player isn't a good idea. So it was a smart idea to offer the deferred money to bridge the gap.

Jeff, any read on how long Angelos was involved in this deal? Never got any indication that Angelos was involved in any other deals up to this point.

According to your sources, how long were the O's and Guerrero talking? And was this one that Buck was involved in too? From watching him on MLB, he aways expressed a high regard for Vlad and his ability as a middle of the order hitter.

I'd agree on your assesment on TX, I think they were keeping Vlad on the backburner in case they could get a deal done to move Young's bloated deal. The idea of paying a guy 16m to be a supersub doesn't fly. When they signed Beltre, I think the wheels were turning to try and move Young and then bring Guerrero back to DH.

My take all along was Guerrero was going to get tired of waiting and would start to look elsewhere. Glad the O's stepped in before TX and the Rockies could get something done. Now TX might stand pat, unless they've managed to upset Young too, and he demands a deal.

To me, TX comes off looking a little silly in all of this manuvering. Your thoughts?

Jeff Z's: Angelos is going to be involved in any high price deal, as is every other professional owner. From what I gather, his primary involvement in this one was aggressively encouraging Andy MacPhail to get the deal done, regardless of the price, and figuring out a way to do it without taking on the $8 million hit this season. The O's and Guerrero's agent met at the winter meetings and they talked sporadically earlier in the offseason when the O's still didn't have a 1B, and at least considered moving Luke there, which would have created a DH opening for Vlad. But talks started again a couple of days after Rays signed Manny and Damon. They continued semi-regularly until the deal got done. I know Buck has talked to Vlad, but I don't think he was actively recruiting him or anything.

its the American way, mortgage the future...(kidding, kidding). Are Guerrero and his agent aware of the time value of money? Then again, with a zero-interest rate policy, doesnt matter much, see first sentence.

good question peteypablo. i bet if Buck had misgivings he aint lettin on now.

it took me a while to warm up to this move, but lately i've been hoping for it, and the money it took was a real eye opener . If nothing else, it makes the Orioles nationally relevant again, even in the spring conversations.

And i don't think there's anyway to quantify veteran clubhouse leadership. I'm definitely most intrigued by how the other players respond. This could even help my man Felix Pie's development in the long run.

Any chance they are trying to hold off on a physical until they can put Simon on the inactive list which would free up a spot on the 40 man roster?


I don't know about Winn, but Izturis isn't going anywhere. They just signed him for his glove. If Roberts or Hardy goes down, they want good defence off the bench. Obviously, they think they'll get more of that from IZZY than from either Andino or Harris.

could the O's have put together a package for mike young
i think that a younger young would be better than an older guerreo

Jeff Z's reply: Difference is Young still has $48 million and three years left on his contract. The Orioles got Guerrero for eight million. He's way better fit for what the Orioles need right now. The O's absorbing Young's contract, considering where they are and what he is at this stage of his career - and don't get me wrong, young has always been one of my favorite players - would just not be very smart.


Thanks for the information. Since Peter Angelos and Andy Mcphail wanted him so much, what are the chances there is an option for 2012 if he performs well? And also if he does, what better way to see Vlad hit his 500th homerun in a Oriole Uniform!

Jeff Z's reply: I think if they perform well, the Orioles would certainly be interested in keeping Vlad and Derrek Lee around past one year. But that's just speculation until you see how this season goes and how well they perform.

No one knows what he has left, but Vlads will be the best (historically) player ever to put on an O's uniform. He's up there with the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Williams, and Musial. It will be a real thrill just to see him at the Park.

There is no way that the Orioles are as strapped for capital as they pretend to be. The Nationals (the little team, with the light following) just paid a decent player, 18 million for 6 or 7 years. The Os have about 75% of MASN. Who are we kidding.

Jeff Z"s reply: What a shocker, David. All you kept saying was how Andy and Peter were going to blow this, how they weren't going to sign Vlad, how they are terrible, etc., etc., etc. Yet, I never heard a peep out of you when they did sign him. And now despite the fact that they did, you're back to being negative again and calling for them to sign another pitcher. I'm stunned. BTW, how much did Carl Pavano sign for this year?

I'm thrilled to have Vlad signed. Whether it's $5M or $8M, the O's have shown that they are committed to fielding a winning team. Kudos to Angelos and AM for putting the pieces together for Showalter. A .500 season looks within reach, but most of all, the O's look competitive against the likes of the Yankees and Red Sox. Go O's!

I love our fans. They're among the most fickle in baseball. Baltimore fans used to be among the most loyal and knowledgeable in baseball. Now, most look only for a reason to complain. If the O's "lowballed" Guerrero so badly, why was he still available? Could it be that they offered him his true "worth" then relented because they truly wanted him and made him an offer which allowed both sides to save face? Whatever the reason, he is a true superstar, whose offensive production has not suffered significantly, and will most certainly be a welcome addition to this club.

Go O's!

The other day I accidentally wrote the wrong name in my post here. Sorry. I was using my phone and its tiny screen and I got confused which blog I was on. I just wanted to say that, I am sure I am not alone in saying, that:

I consider you to be THE BEST journalist who covers the Orioles. It's no contest! The behind-the-scenes insights you bring, the integrity of the material, and credibility of the facts as facts cannot be matched.

For one thing, everyone else feels like somewhere between editorial and bloggers, which has a place, but it's not quite the same thing as real journalism.

Jeff Z"s reply: I was just messing with you Eddie. I wasn't offended. Roch is a good friend of mine and former colleague. Now if you said Schmuck, we may have had a problem. BUt in all seriousness, thanks for the kind words.


Not all O's fans are fickle, how can you say that? There's always boo birds, to be sure, but to lump us all together. Anyway.... @ the people who want Michael Young, the idea is intriguing, but there is no place for him here.The only thing left for the O's to do and it doesn't seem likely at this point , is go after a true #1 pitcher. Even one MLB hot stove analyst said the O's should go after one. However, I am unsure who they would want at this point, much less who they would offer in order to obtain one. I just want to say I am thrilled that Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail got this done. The O's should have one of the most potent offenses in 2011, if everyone stays healthy!

Touche' Jeff, way to stuff ole Spedden (Old English obviously for REHTARD). You're not the only one tired of reading his monotoned garbage!
Now, like most of us, I too have been guilty of getting uber frustrated, maybe more than the next fan, especially during this malaise of 13 years but facts are facts. Andy MacPhail has rebuilt the baseball operations. The minor league unit is rated in the top 10, 6th by Fanhouse. The rotation is studded with young, talented arms, the bullpen could be one of the best in baseball while the lineup now has some serious thunder (4 guys who have hit over 30HR's, 3 of them over 40 HR's in a season!)
Pure hitter Markakis might explode to super stardom in the 2 hole! Jones will benefit too from the shared load carry. HE HAS DONE THIS W ANGELOS SUPPORT!
Say what you want about the cause of the 13 year malaise, and certainly the blame has rightfully risen to the top, but surely even the town drunk can recognize that you strike when the irons hot and you baton down the hatches when its not.
If Sped prefers to be the King Ostrich here, let him dine on worms while WE ENJOY THE RENAISSANCE of OUR BELOVED BIRDS!

One other element of this signing and the others designed to boost the offense is the positive impact on our young pitchers. Imagine you pitched for the Orioles in 2010. If you gave up 3 runs, the game was over (in the 1st half of the season, I mean) Now you can go out there, challenge hitters and not pitch from fear, which has to be what they were dealing with last year. I am confident the whole pitching staff is breathing a sigh of relief, knowing this team has the potential to put people on base and knock in a few runs every night. It changes how you go about your job as a pitcher!!!

"Vlads will be the best (historically) player ever to put on an O's uniform."

Harold, I must assume that either: a) you are being facetious; or b) you have never heard of Eddie Murray, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Roberto Alomar, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr, or Wee Willie Keeler.

Hoosier Oriole, I completely agree. But it's been a long drought of winning, so we've kind of earned the right (even though I don't agree with the complaints this time).

For the past month the majority of fans on this blog have complained that Vlad wasn't signed yet, and the O's would blow it. Well now Vlad is signed, the FO didn't blow it, and there's still some discontent here. I'm a little bitter with that.

I am focused on 2011, and not the holes that will need to be filled come 2012. Let's see what this season brings. In my heart I think this team will contend, as ridiculous as that sounds after nearly finishing with the worst record since (I believe) the '62 Mets. But Buck came along and the O's were winners.

No reason, with all the added depth and talent, that they won't compete from April 4 til September.

Jeff, I hope to see you in Sarasota. I'll be there Sunday for the Tigers game. I'll say hi.

Dan qz,

Part of the reason I asked about Izzy is because he'll make $1.5 mill and signed early in free agency. Trade him for a prospect, save a mil, play andino... we need as many prospects as we can get.

Jeff Z"s reply: My point was you are not getting a prospect for Cesar Izturis. You wouldn't get much of anything. .

SmittyATL....comment should have indicated OFFENSIVELY the best...with that clarrification, I stand by my assertion. Your list of past Orioles include many fine overall players, but with the bat, Vlads is the best (historically).

Jeff--Two days before the agreement with Vlad, I emphasized with friends that there was no reason to wait this out for the lowest possible price. Vlad has put up Hall of Fame numbers, he is a fierce and proud competitor. Why not go a little extra and show him you respect him and want him playing for the Baltimore Orioles.

And, as I said, doing this would certainly make Oriole fans happy.

Some friends said they didn't understand my point, that there was no reason to bid against yourself.

But why not do this to make the team better? And why run the risk of losing this opportunity and having another team swoop in?

Why not make the player come to Baltimore happy and make the fans, who wanted this signing so much, happy?

And why are the Oriole players, Peter Angelos, Andy MacPhail, Buck Showalter, and Bird fans so happy? This is a lineup now that catches the attention of every other team in the American League East.

The young Baltimore pitching staff is going to enjoy the support of run-production.

Lookout. We are on the verge of enjoying wins once again that prompted Bill O'Donnell to delight us on so many summer evenings with his trademark sign-off--"It's been a good night, everybody."

To Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail--Thank you.

This is about getting behinds in seats.

You said it yourself. "the orioles top decision makers, namely Peter Angelos..."

Why pay more than the market demands? This deal does not provide any long term value and will only make the Orioles mediocre, which is the goal I guess.

Jeff -- Your assessment certainly makes sense. The possibility of losing him to the Rangers would make things a bit more urgent.

One sentence jumps out at me: "They obviously looked around at the rest of the DH market and weren’t terribly excited about giving Guerrero $8 million." I say this because the Rays signed Manny Ramirez to a $2 million contract, so it should be interesting to see who gets more bang for their buck. Should it turn out to be Tampa Bay, you just know the boo birds will be out in full force denouncing overspending on Vlad.

You say you don't see a press conference in the offing, but I'm puzzled as to why. Impact players are deserving of press conferences and Guerrero is nothing if not an impact player. What difference does it make if it's conducted in Baltimore or Sarasota, because those of you who cover the team are going to be down there.

One major side effect of the Vlad deal is left field. Scott's been penciled in as the new starter at that spot, but as much as like Luke, it almost makes more sense to deal him and let Pie get most of the playing time there.

I say this not, as many do, concerning defense, because Scott's not bad with the glove. No, my thinking is that the team has suddenly become loaded with power hitters to the point that it lacks speed. It's all well and good if someone goes deep, but there are some real base cloggers who can also kill rallies because they couldn't get score from second on a single.

Jeff Z's reply: The primary reason it would be in Sarasota is not because of the media, but because that's where all the team doctors will be because they're needed for the physicals when pitchers and catchers report.

To put is simple, this is the first time I have been excited about a season in about 13 -14 years! How can you not be! And I think Peter will see what amazing things fielding a good team will do to his box office. If you build it (team), they will come (fans). And to bring up last season, I am greatful bobby valentine decided it was too horrible a team to coach and pulled out of consideration, making way for a much better coach in my opinion. If only Wild Bill had hung on a few more years . . . GO O's!!

this totally helps. i'm just happy to see the team PULL the trigger, take a calculated risk (not unabated like albert belle), on a one year deal - defer some of the 8MM and maybe bring back some 0's magic.

Harold, I don't know what stats you're looking at other than BA but maybe you might reconsider your assertion that Vlad is the best offensively ever for the Os if you look closer at Frank Robinson's numbers. Not to put down Vlad but just sayin.

If Guerrero gets traded either at midseason or whenever, does his deferred payment pass on to the next team?

Jeff Z's reply: I think that could be worked out between the two trading teams, but I would think the O's will be on the hook for that.

to me a deferal is like using a credit card. somewhere down the road you have to pay the bill.and how much affect will or would it have on procuring a free agent or trade for a player when the orioles have to put out the deferred mney as the saying goes we will cross the bridge when we come to it.

I am not as excited as most of you over the Vlad signing, primarily because I am a big fan of Pie and watched him finally look ready to exploding under Buck. I think he can develop into an excellent hitter and is obviously a fine outfielder not to mention he's light years younger than Vlad.

That being said, I think the primary reason to be most excited about the Os this season is the main reason you win games--PITCHING!!
Remember it's all about the pitching. Look at how SF won last season and how Texas lost for all those years with a big bopper lineup.

If Matusz continues to grow and Arrieta and Tillman come along, as well as a young ace by the name of Britton, the Os could have one of the most exciting and lethal young rotations in all of baseball by next season.
Now that's something to be truely excited about.

Jeff, thanks for answering my earlier post. I thought the O's have been kicking the tires on a Guerrero deal for longer then it's been generally reported. I think TX thought they could keep him on the back burner while they courted Beltre, reinforced their catching/1b/and DH depth, and now are talking back in talks about moving Young.

Guerrero's got a lot of pride and the O's did a good job to keep in contact while TX took a long time to decide if they really wanted him or not.

What I can't figure is that some posters keep hollering to trade Scott now. I thought the point was to pack more power into the lineup, not give it up so Pie has a place to play.

My question is, why is there so much doubt about Scott playing LF? He takes good routes to the ball, runs reasonably well, and has a decent arm and glove. No he's not Carl Crawford, but he doesn't make 20m a year either.

What's your view on Scott as a Left Fielder?

Besides can't Pie be used as a defensive replacement, and spot starter, and give Jones days off as well. And wouldn't he likely be Markakis's B/U as well?

Jeff, Just read were Young has asked TX for a trade, seems he's fed up with being jerked around. That just underscores what I was saying about TX in my 2:45 post.


I'm guessing I misunderstood you. I thought you implied that there isn't going to be a press conference because of the logistics of it, but your reply to me makes it sound as though there is going to be one, just in Sarasota and not in Baltimore.

So, press conference or no press conference? Thanks.

BTW, congratulations on your sportswriters award. Well deserved.

Jeff Z's reply: Thanks Ken. This is totally up to the Orioles so I'm not positive one way or another. But my sense is there would be something in Sarasota.

Tom...add BA and HRs together as a guide to consistent hitting with power...Vlads is up there with the best....not to diminish the wonderful career of Frank R. Only hope he can look something like the Vlads of yester-year.....I want a great team NOW, never mind what he did in the past....but his numbers are in the books for thr HOF.


Does this mean the O's won't have the ability to increase payroll next year?

Seems like the have quite a few current players that are up for contracts and might need to go back to free agency for a first basemen.

Jeff Z's reply: Nope, it doesn't mean that.

So, how far down the road will Vlad get the other $3M?


Pretty far down from what we believe


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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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