Two weeks ago Baltimore declined to offer arbitration to Koji Uehara because it would have meant committing to a raise on his $5 million salary, but the Orioles have now re-signed the 35-year-old reliever to a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2012.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun the new deal includes $3 million in guarantee money and another $2 million or so in possible incentives.
Uehara reportedly drew interest from a half-dozen teams as a free agent, so by not offering arbitration the Orioles risked losing him without receiving a compensatory draft pick in return, but the move ultimately worked out well as they lowered the upfront money and also potentially secured his rights for 2012.
Uehara struggled to stay healthy as a starter, but transitioned to the bullpen full time this year and thrived with a 2.86 ERA, .220 opponents’ batting average, and 55-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 44 innings. He converted 13 saves in 15 chances and will likely enter 2011 as the favorite to claim closer duties.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.