Spring training is coming up soon, and the Orioles are beginning to put the finishing touches on the 2004 roster; they've started resolving the arbitration process:
The Orioles signed second baseman Jerry Hairston and center fielder Luis Matos to one-year contracts yesterday, avoiding arbitration with both players shortly before the deadline to submit salary figures to the commissioner's office.Gibbons, Mora, and Ryan still to go. Matos just snuck in for arbitration eligibility, so that's pretty good considering he has barely played in the majors.
Hairston received $1.65 million, and Matos got $975,000.
The Hairston signing reduces uncertainty, hopefully clearing the way for the Orioles to resolve the Hairston/Roberts mess. Given the Orioles' extreme lack of young players in recent years, it seems a shame to talk about getting rid of one. But a team simply doesn't need two second basemen, and a second baseman does not a utility infielder make. Unless they decide one of them can play short -- and they don't appear willing to say so -- then one of them has to go. If it were up to me, I'd keep Roberts, who's two years younger and seems to have more upside. But if the Orioles can convert either one into usable talent, I'll be happy.
I've updated my historical Orioles arbitration chart.