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Orioles will tender contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players

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MLB teams have until December 2 to decide whether to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, but there won’t be any intrigue with the Orioles. According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette confirmed this evening that the club plans to tender contracts to all nine players in question.

“We are planning on tendering those guys,” said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. “Most of the guys we have there are real good players.”

The nine players, who due to their service time are eligible to have a panel of three arbiters decide their 2014 salary if they can’t come to an agreement with the club, are: catcher Matt Wieters, first baseman Chris Davis, outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearace, relievers Troy Patton, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson and starter Bud Norris.

Most of these players are no-brainers, but Reimold and Johnson are interesting cases. Reimold has shown potential at times, but he has been limited to just 56 games over the past two seasons due to multiple neck/spine surgeries. However, he’ll only get a sight raise from the $1 million he made in 2013 and Duquette said he’s doing well in his rehab. As for Johnson, MLB Trade Rumors projects him to make $10.8 million in his final year of arbitration coming off back-to-back 50-save seasons. The Orioles could potentially get similar production for a lesser price, especially with other holes to fill on their roster, but all indications are that he’ll be the ninth-inning man again in 2014.

Duquette also mentioned that he has yet to engage in extension talks with either Wieters or Davis. Both players are two years away from free agency.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.