Diamondbacks decline options on Aaron Hill, Zach Duke

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Neither of these moves come as a huge surprise, but the Diamondbacks announced this evening that they have declined their club options on Aaron Hill and Zach Duke.

Hill’s contract included a pair of $8 million options for 2012 and 2013. The 29-year-old second baseman played well after being acquired from the Blue Jays in August, batting .315/.386/.492 with two homers, 16 RBI and an .878 OPS over 142 plate appearances. The small sample of success wasn’t enough to convince Arizona GM Kevin Towers to make the hefty investment, but they are interesting in retaining him at a lesser salary.

Duke, who was acquired from the Pirates last December, will receive a $750,000 buyout rather than a $5.5 million salary in 2012. The 28-year-old left-hander didn’t make his season debut until May due to a broken hand and ended up posting a disappointing 4.93 ERA and 32/19 K/BB ratio over 76 2/3 innings. He was banished to the bullpen following the All-Star break.

The Diamondbacks also exercised mutual options on utility infielder Willie Bloomquist and backup catcher Henry Blanco. Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that Bloomquist will become a free agent after declining his portion of the mutual option, but that he is interested in returning as part of a multi-year contract. If Blanco opts to exercise his part of the mutual option, he will earn $1.15 million in 2012.

No lease extension, but O’s and governor tout partnership

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The Baltimore Orioles and Maryland Gov. Wes Moore announced a joint commitment to what they called a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.

The statement from the team and the state’s new governor came Wednesday, the deadline for the Orioles to exercise a one-time, five-year extension to their lease at Camden Yards. The team was not planning to exercise that option, according to a person with knowledge of the decision. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the club hadn’t announced its decision.

With no extension, the lease is set to expire at the end of this year, but the team and the Maryland Stadium Authority can keep negotiating. Wednesday’s joint release seemed to be an attempt to calm any nerves in Baltimore about the team’s future.

“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves,” Orioles CEO John Angelos said.

“We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”

Republican Larry Hogan, the state’s previous governor, signed a bill last year increasing bond authorization for M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens, and Camden Yards. The measure allowed borrowing of up to $600 million for each stadium.

“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore, a Democrat, said Wednesday. “We share the commitment of the Orioles organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership.”

Angelos recently reaffirmed that the Orioles would stay in Baltimore, although he dressed down a reporter who asked for more clarity on the future of the team’s ownership situation. Angelos was sued last year by his brother Lou, who claimed John Angelos seized control of the Orioles at his expense.