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.
Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.
This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.
Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.
Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.