Orioles and Jim Johnson avoid arbitration with one-year deal

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Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and closer Jim Johnson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.5 million contract. He could earn an additional $50,000 based on games finished.

Johnson requested $7.1 million and was offered $5.7 million from the Orioles when arbitration figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled for a little over the midpoint. The 29-year-old right-hander made just $2.625 million last season, but his salary will more than double for 2013 after he posted a 2.49 ERA and led the majors with 51 saves.

Johnson was arbitration-eligible for the third time this winter, but because he was a Super Two player, he’ll remain under team control through 2014. That means he’ll likely have another healthy jump in pay next winter.

 

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.