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February 11, 2011

Should any current Oriole get a long-term deal?

With Luke Scott signing a one-year deal on Thursday, only Jeremy Guthrie remains unsigned among arbitration-eligible players.

If Guthrie, who asked for $6.5 million and the Orioles, who countered with $5 million, can’t find a common ground, a three-person arbitration board will choose one of the figures on Wednesday.

Guthrie and Scott, both of whom are eligible for free agency after the 2012 season, have shown interest in signing long-term deals. The Orioles aren’t willing to do that yet.

Of the other Orioles that qualified for arbitration, shortstop J.J. Hardy is a free agent after the end of this season; outfielders Felix Pie and Adam Jones are free agents after 2013 and pitcher Jim Johnson hits free agency after 2014.

Clubs like to sign players to long-term deals in order to ebb the potential financial escalation during the arbitration years and extend the tenure of coveted players beyond six full seasons.

Usually -- but not always -- players don’t get extensions until they are approaching or are in the midst of their arbitration years (which kick in after three seasons of service for most players and after two seasons for some players). Therefore, Orioles such as Matt Wieters and Brian Matusz, both of whom won’t see free agency until after 2015, aren’t likely in this discussion yet.

So let’s primarily consider the seven arb-eligible players above. They are the most obvious candidates for extensions – specifically Scott, Guthrie, Hardy and Jones. Would you offer any of them long-term deals right now?

Daily Think Special: Which Oriole or Orioles would you like to see get long-term deals? Why?

Posted by Dan Connolly at 12:15 AM | | Comments (39)
Categories: Connolly's Corner Sports Bar


The club needs to get younger. I'd trade Scott and Guthrie, not give them long-term deals. My guess is that the Orioles will be entertaining deals at the deadline for Guthrie, Scott, Guerrero (if the Orioles pitch in a lot of money), as well as Lee and maybe Hardy. Lee is probably the most likely to be traded at the deadline.

Maybe I'd give Hardy a year or two more if the price is right because, a) shortstops of Hardy's quality aren't exactly lying around in free agency, and b) he'd be a logical bridge to Machado.

I'm not willing to discuss any extension with Jones until he proves he lay off the junk pitches and maintain decent discipline at the plate.

Gurthrie for sure. He's been there most solid pitcher over the last several years, so that should be an easy decision.

Probably Hardy, good shortstops are hard to come by. I hear he's pretty good, though I haven't seen it first hand yet.

Scott is pretty iffy due to his tendency to be so streaky. He needs another good season with a mostly hot steaks and less slumping.

At this point, it's not really clear how good Jones is going to be. I think it makes sense to wait for Jones to prove that he's worth a long term contract before they just give him one.

The two guys that I would give extensions to are Guthrie and Jones. The O's need to see Hardy and what he can do. Jose Reyes is a free agent next season so if Hardy doesn't work out, you have a very speedy SS to look at in 2012.

The reason I would give Guthrie a long term deal is because he's durable. He isn't an ace, but that's not his fault. He loves Baltimore and he's very involved in the community plus he has one more year after this season before free agency so I would look at a 4 year deal to avoid another round of negotiations. His work ethic is second to none and I think he will be a good mentor for the young kids.

I know Jones is somewhat of an enigma at this point because I don't think anyone knows what he's truly capable of doing. I do know he has a huge upside, he's young and I think for the 1st time in his professional career, he has a "real" coaching staff around him. I also believe that if you sign him to say a 6 year extension and he's not everything you thought he would be, 10 teams would be knocking at the door for a young CF who is locked up for a number of years at a reasonable rate.

I have no clue what we have in Luke so I wouldn't give him a long term deal. He was the MVO, but he's also a streaky hitter. I would love to see some consistency out of him plus I am curious how he handles LF. The O's have him for 1 more year and I just don't think he's special enough to lock him up long term in my opinion.

Right now I would give 3 yr deals to Guthrie,and Jones. Guthrie has been fairly durable, but he isn't the biggest guy around so I expect problems with him soon. Jones is young enough to be able to make big improvements. I think he will have a monster year. Maybe extend Hardy after we see how he does this season. I would extend Matusz when he gets to his first arbitration year.

To me its probably Adam Jones. People commenting on here are saying that they wouldnt give Jones a long term deal until he "gets it" at the plate pertaining to him swinging at really bad pitched. But for a guy that isnt getting it yet to hit 19 homeruns the past 2 years seems pretty good. He is very fast, plays a pretty good CF (for the most part and you could always move him to left) and a career .274 batting average is respectable for a guy who hasnt figured it out yet.

I could see him between 25-30 HR's per year , with his ageand upside he should definetly get consideration for a long term deal.

No long term contracts for anyone in any sport. Your next playing year is dependent on your performance the previous year meaning playing well to the best of your ability and acting like you have some commonsense off-field. Long term contracts for athletes not a good idea, ever.

Guthrie at $6M/Yr for 4 yrs = $24M. Paying $6M per for a middle of the rotation guy who can be depended on to start 30+ games/yr without injury is smart and deal expires when he's 35.

I think it is funny when folks say we need to get younger, we need to trade such and such by the trade deadline. Think about what you are saying, we have been in the dumps for 13 years, we don't need to get younger, we already have a nucleaus, we need to add to that as pitchers mature. Every great team has a mixture of young and old. we just signed Vlad a week ago, and some folks already have him traded in the middle of the season. I for one am looking foward to Vlad and the other veterans playing alongside our younger players, to start turning it around this year, maybe even delusional enough to see us steal or come close to getting the wildcard with these "aging" players. Let these guys from winning organizations, rub off on our "losing" culture.

That said, I would offer Gutherie a 4-5 year deal due to what he has meant to the organization: stability, leadership, decent numbers, dependability, and most of all a healthy career. He would not be a big risk or cost a boatload of money for what he gives the Os. I am still not convinced on Jones.

Both Guthrie and Luke have earned three year extensions.

As someone said, Jones needs to prove he can lay off the junk pitches, and when he does, then he, too, should get another three years. And Hardy needs to prove he can stay on the field.

Lee and Vlad are too old for anything more than one or possibly two year(s) at a time. Matusz and Wieters are tied up til the end of time as it is..

No long term contracts at this point. If someone like a Matusz or Machado appear to be a Nolan Ryan or Derek Jeter at 26, I'd say yeah, 4 to 5 years tops.

Id give a 2 or 3 year deal to Guthrie or Scott. Good for the clubhouse. Good veterans to keep on the team.

I think Jones is the big question mark, especially after last season. He cant stay healthy, and we're all waiting for him to break out at the plate. (not to say it wont happen). But, until then, I think they should hold off.

Right now I wouldn't offer any of them long term deals. If Hardy has a bounce back year I could see resigning him for 2 years. That would give Machado a few years to push his way onto the club.

Guthrie, Jones, & Scott all need to show they can play at a high level consistently. Once they do, especially, Jones & Guthrie, I would talk long term deals with them.


One bad year. Can pitch with anybody on any given day. Durable.

No chance I'd give a deal to Jones. Last year was the worst CF defense I've seen for the O's in a loooooong time. Cost us 5 games I can think of off the top of my head, including opening day in B-more (everyone loves to blame M. Gonzo, but Jones dropped a ball in centerfield in the 1st that allowed 2 runs to score).

If he was a monster at the plate and on the bases, I'd be willing, but let's be honest... he's a slightly above average hitter.

Sure, he might get better because he is so young, but I'm not giving him a deal and waiting for that to happen. Show me the defense, the hustle, and the offensive improvement and I'd show him the money.

The real question isn't to whom would you give long term contracts; the question is how much are you willing to spend on a long term contract. Guthrie and Scott have shown great value and if they can be signed to a long term deal for a cheap or reasonable price, then you should do it. They can always be traded later, especially if they are locked up at an affordable price. Same for Jones except that he probably isn't interested because he knows he has little value at this point based on his career numbers. As to the blogger that said Jones is fast, they must have the wrong Jones. He stole only 7 bases last year and was caught stealing 7 times; probably the worst CS % in the league.

Easy answer: no.

Good performances this season from guys like Guthrie and Jones may sway my opinion.

Guthrie for right now...this moment. He has earned it. With the additional run production he will be extremely confident. And he is a tremendous person to keep in the organization long term.

If he has a very good year then sign Jones at the end of the season the way the Rays signed Longoria. I personally think that with this lineup Jones will hit 25 home runs and bat about .300.

Based on last season, I wouldn't give anyone a long-term deal. That being said, if Hardy has a decent year this year, sign him up for 2-3 more. If Machado pushes his way onto the roster, you can always trade Hardy, as SS aren't the most injury prone.

If Guthrie has a year like last year, then yes, give him a 4-5 year deal at around 8 mil per. Wouldn't be the cheapest contract, but wouldn't be a lowball offer for a guy that keeps his ERA under 4 in the AL East and logs 200+ innings/30 starts per year.

As for Scott, it all comes down to consistency. If he has another year like last, a 2-3 year deal is in order, at about 7 mil per.

With Jones, I feel like we have seen two players so far. In 2008, he was learning at the ML level. In 2009 he started off hot and showed what he is capable of when he is locked in, but he slumped terribly after the first full month and dragged that into 2010 through May. From June on he played pretty well, and the last two months his strikeouts went waaaaaaay down, while his average went way up. If he hits .250 in April instead of .225, we are looking at a guy who hit around .300 last year with about a .360 OBP.

If he can avoid the long slump this year, and play like he did from June-September 2010, then I think he will be one of the better CFs in the game, and of course you lock him up long term.

I think the O's are handling all of these cases well by going one year at a time. None of these players have proved reliable enough to warrant a multiyear commitment, and the O's have the leverage since all are under contract for another two seasons at least.

I could see extending Guthrie for a few years if he backs up last season with something similar in 2011, but the O's also have a lot of pitchers in the pipeline, and there's no way Guthries settles for 4 years/$24M. He would easily command $8M-$10M per season on the open market.

Scott, I think, is expendable and not worth a long-term commitment. He needs to show consistency and also that he can play a serviceable left field.

Jones needs to prove that he's progressing and not stagnating, but with him under control through 2013.

There is no pressing need to sign any of these players to long-term deals yet. I could see a two-year deal for Hardy, though this season should show just how hardy he is. Jones is entering a show-me year. Is he going to become the player he was projected to become -- a genuine allstar -- or is this it? Has Markakis maxed out, or will he justify the long-term contract he has already signed? Will Wieters take a big step forward this year, making us forget about that Posey guy? We've seen flashes of greatness ... now we need these players, and others, to show the flashes are not just in the pan. Then long-term contracts become plausible.

Luke's streakiness was not as apparent last year as in the past. He was more consistent across the board, his main drawback was the RISP average. But even so, he still had his best overall year. If not for the injury coming out of the spring that limited his production and the homerun hammy, he would have hit 30 and driven in at least 85.

He might be a good risk for a three year deal, that would end when he's 35 or 36 and ready to be a fulltime DH with no illusions about playing the field.

Guthrie also enjoyed a nice bounce back year and is a year or so younger than Scott. He's another guy they could tie down for three years.

Keep in mind that if they do sign these or any other players for an extended period, should the need arise, it is easier to trade a guy with a contract than a guy without. The traded to team wouldn't have to worry if their acquisition is a one year rental or not.

I think the overall climate of baseball contracts has changed in the past five seasons. I think for clubs to be able to leverage 'club friendly' contracts they have to take risks on future development and performance on younger high upside players. Because so many teams are doing this, I think it has an effect on these younger players, who see others -who they perceive- at their tier to receive the payoff of a multi-year multi-millions contract, who then wonder, 'why isn't my club appreciative of what I can bring to the organization'.

Additionally, the new earlier contract process, I believe, has resulted in the shift toward such overpaying of those players who do make free agency. How many of these really big contracts would be given out in a market where they were competiting with players like Hanley Ramirez, Evan Longoria, John Lester, Kevin Youkolis(sp?)?

I do not know which players at this point on the O's I would say deserve this; but, I would state that the organization needs to be considering that in the next two seasons they need to be considering the option for the Wieters, Matusz, Jones, and depending on this year maybe Arrieta.

It is a different approach to contracts and the O's need to show they are willing to pay early like others to retain their homegrown talent.

I think what we're looking for from Jones is HUGE #S despite swinging at the crap in the dirt. Lots of good hitters have a weakness, they make up for it by their production making the weakness tolerable. For instance, if Reynolds hits 40 dingers and drives in 90, I dont care if he strikes out 200 times.

Guthrie has been/is/will be a warrior. You'd be hard pressed to find 10 pitchers who have better #s over the last 3 years (outside of wins). 4 years/36 mil. It seems like a lot til you see whose getting way more and what a waste it is.

Jones is the only one I'd consider giving a long-term deal because of his age and potential; the others are more likely to decline.

But his erratic performances make me prefer to have him motivated by year-to-year contracts, at least for now.

Good question for a long winter evening's consideration, lubricated with appropriate potables.

One factor to consider: the upside (security, fewer distractions, knowing they're wanted...,) and downside
(do long-termers work as hard as Cal did to get better, year-in and year-out? Not all of them!) of long-term deals.

For example, Adam Jones still has the teenager mentality ("he just wants to have fun")which isn't exactly a bad thing, but it also shows when he gets bored (not talking with Markakis between pitches) and loafs on a catchable flyball. Does a long-term deal help him grow up faster, concentrate harder, and keep his head in the game at all times? Not necessarily.

Andy's recent Q&A at the Baltimore law school was important -- there are real, complicated equations to solve on the financial end as well. Getting a decent handle on your payroll several years in advance can be a good thing, but what happens to your key players' mood when they're locked into $6-8 mil per year when the O's finally violate their own wisdom to make the big splash for Fielder for $130mm?

More questions here than answers...need more potables and a loooooong winter's night!

At the moment, I wouldn't hand out long term contracts to any of the players mentioned b/c none of them have shown us that they are stars that we need to lock up right now. Once they have 2 consecutive seasons of great stats or obvious improvement then you start to think about locking them up. Outside of Jones, and maybe even Guthrie, I don't think any of the players you named are all that coveted by other teams so there's no point in locking them up longterm at this point in time.

At FanFest a couple of weeks ago, MacPhail said he didn't offer Jones more than a one year deal b/c Jones hasn't shown any improvement or any signs of being the player that they thought they were getting from Seattle in the Bedard trade.

I like Guthrie a lot, but he's not Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee. And any pitcher is always just one more pitch away from breaking down with arm problems.

I don't see a single position player on the Orioles who justifies a long term deal, either. Nobody on the O's reminds me of A-Rod or Pujols. Those are the kind of guys who get long term contracts.

Our younger players need another 2-3 years to demonstrate they can play consistently at a high level. If they do, then is the time to lock them up to long term deals. Remember the Cleveland Indians a few years back? They had a number of rising young stars and locked them up to long term deals. It worked in the short run, but where have the Indians been since?

Guthrie has earned a multiyear contract IMO. I do not see any compelling reason to believe that he will be prone to injury. He takes care of his body and is an excellent athlete. He also has great temperment, club presence, community outreach and is a polished speaker. I view him, along with Roberts and Markakis, to be role models for the Baltimore Orioles.

I would like to see Reynold given a extenion. He is only 27, and just coming into his prime. The only young player at third is Bell and he could move to first base. I am not quite sure hes going to make big any way.

I only count six players as arbitration eligible, not seven, but nobody ever said that journalists (or bloggers) had to be math majors. Would I offer extensions to any of the six right now? Nope. If they all do what we hope they do this year it will enhance their negotiating position for next year and beyond but that's okay. Here's my take on them individually, based on them having that good season we want.

Guthrie - offer to buy out the last arbitration year with a three year deal. Start by offering 3/24, be willing to go to 3/27 but no more, unless he is in the Cy Young discussion.

Scott - they actually are doing him a favor increasing his value playing him in LF. Still, it's worth it bringing in Vlad this year. I'm looking at the same deal as Guthrie, again unless he is in the MVP discussion.

Hardy - he'll be a free agent. Bid accordingly, probably in the range of 3/21 for starters.

Jones - if he's in the MVP discussion you think about extending, otherwise be prepared to wait another year.

JJ, Felix - please. Get real. We're talking about a set-up guy and a 4th outfielder at the moment, both with injury history. Unless and until that changes take it as it comes.

As a previous poster stated, long term contracts are not good (for the teams, at least) in any sport. Crazy old Charley Finley was right: at the outset of free agency, he submitted a proposal to MLB owners that ALL players played on one-year contracts, no reserve clause. Thus, every player was a free agent after every season. Finley's reasoning was that since the so-called free agent market would be glutted every off season, there would be no "we have to sign Cliff Lee for 80 bazillion dollars now" kind of spending. That said, in the current MLB climate, you have to get a few key guys signed to reasonably long term deals. Guthrie (3 yrs), Jones (3), Scott (2), Hardy (2). That'd be it for me.

Great topic Mr Connolly.

Guthrie. Discussed this before this settlement, but 3 years at 24 million could have gotten it done. Very reasonable price for a quality starter with no injury history.

Jones. He is a ML starter no matter if he stays in CF or moves to LF. He still has tons of potential after shifting from the infield a few years ago. Same goes for offense. Can he reach it under Buck? My money and his are on the yes side.

Scott? No thanks. A poor defender and horrible home away splits make him a one trick pony. Its going to be tough to trade him unless he improves offensively, yep, I'm not impressed with his numbers after close inspection.

Hardy. No, if he can stay healthy and improve offensively, the little things, he could be worth a 4 year contract as a FA. But right now I would have to pass. Reyes in Black and Orange would be nice.

Colorado Oriole -

Unlimited free agency is exactly what Marvin Miller did not want when he designed the first free agency plan.

In his opinion, everyone being a free agent was the same as nobody being a free agent. And this, of course, would shift the deals to the stars, thus eliminating the middle class that makes or breaks any society, baseball or not.

Right or wrong, Miller did not want to see the market flooded, as those eligible would inevitably bump up the salaries for everyone in successive years, while the bottom line would hopefully continue to rise.

You can agree with Mr. Miller or not, but there is no doubt that free agency has been a smashing success for the players and, in terms of team success, often to the fans as well.

Unlikely contenders, playoff teams, or even better over the pasrt decade or so have included Minnesota, Detroit, Tampa, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona, Florida, and Texas. And those are just off the top of ny head. And that does not invlude perennials such as the Yankees, Boston, and Philadelphia..

This team has been such a hot mess for the past 13 years that no one currently on the roster deserves a long-term deal. A case may be made for Markakis. How many of the current 40-man roster were on the 40-man roster in 2005? Only proven long term talents deserve such things, Pujols, Texiera or Ichiro. Guthrie has always been overrated and Scott is inconsistent. Not to mention anyone on this current team may need to be moved quickly if things don’t work out well. Shorter contracts are easier to move, or just wait out.

GUTHRIE! Why not lock up your best starter??? He's neither old nor oft-injured.

It's hard believe I find myself saying this, but I think the O's did exactly the right thing, at this point in time, by signing all these guys to one year deals. There is no reason why the team shouldn't be better this season, and possibly substantially better. So let's see what happens now, when things start to really count. Let's see who performs and who doesn't, under these kind on conditions, before we sign any of these guys to a long term contract. This season is shaping up to be a perfect time to evaluate who we're going forward with, and on the other hand, who we're better off without.

Luke Scott is an ... His comments about the president were not the kind of comments that make for a cohesive locker room.He is inconsistant. He might go thirty days without a decent hit and then hit a hot streak for two or three weeks. I say get what you can for him now.


Considering all the personnel changes in the team, I don't think Oriole management will negoiate any long term contracts before the end of June and probably not until after the 2011 season. Like you say Hardy, Guthrie and Scott are prime candidates for a long term contract but I think management will reward the most outstanding player(s) of the 2011 season with long term contracts. And I wouldn't rule out Lee, Guerrero or Duchscherer if you consider two years a long term contract.

Long term contracts(3 or more years) should only go to the cream of the crop. Right now, that's Markakis, Roberts and possibly Gregg. I don't know which players will rise to the top in 2011. Could be Guthrie, Scott or even Hardy. But it could just as well be someone else. At any rate, the team will certainly be more interesting to watch.

the only two I would give a long term already have them in roberts and markakis. Pie might be worth it if he turns the corner this year, but he might just as well slide back with a new hitting coach. hopefully, someone can get him to pay attention to the games he's playing in.

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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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