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Orioles plan on arbitration hearings for three players

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Orioles general manager Dan Duquette is planning on taking right-handers Kevin Gausman and Brad Brach and catcher Caleb Joseph to arbitration hearings next month, according to comments made by the GM during FanFest on Saturday.

Gausman, 26, returned to a full-time starting role with the Orioles in 2016. He went 9-12 with a 3.61 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 8.7 SO/9 over 179 2/3 innings, a substantial improvement over the 4.25 ERA he posted as a swingman in 2015. He filed for $3.55 million and was met with a $3.15 million offer by the team, but the two have been unable to compromise on a midpoint in the weeks following the deadline.

Right-handed reliever Brad Brach had a stunning season in Baltimore, earning his first career All-Star nomination and touting a career-best 2.05 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 10.5 SO/9 through 79 innings. The 30-year-old requested $3.05 million, which was countered by a $2.525 million sum from the Orioles.

Things weren’t so hot for 30-year-old part-time backstop Caleb Joseph, who sustained a severe testicular injury on a wayward foul tip and lugged a .174/.216/.197 batting line and three doubles through 141 PA with the club last year. Joseph is expected to serve as the primary backup for catcher Welington Castillo in 2017. The team offered $700,000 to Joseph’s $1 million request.

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.

Rockies sign 30-year lease to stay in Coors Field

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Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies agreed to a $200 million, 30-year lease with the Metropolitan Baseball Stadium District, which is the state division that owns Coors Field. As part of the deal, the Rockies will lease and develop a plot of land south of the stadium, which will cost the team $125 million for 99 years.

As Groke points out, had the Rockies not reached a deal by Thursday, March 30, the lease would have rolled over for five more years.

Rockies owner Dick Monfort issued a statement, saying, “We are proud that Coors Field will continue to be a vital part of a vibrant city, drawing fans from near and far and making our Colorado residents proud.”

The Rockies moved into Coors Field in 1995. It is the National League’s third oldest stadium. In that span of time, the Rockies have made the playoffs three times, the last coming in 2009 when they lost in the NLDS to the Phillies. The Rockies were swept in the 2007 World Series by the Red Sox.