Gibbons, O's agree on 1-year deal

Outfielder was team's last arbitration-eligible player

Baseball

February 13, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles didn't sign every free agent on their winter wish list, but they managed a clean sweep when it came to avoiding arbitration with their five eligible players.

Right fielder Jay Gibbons agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.6 million yesterday, perhaps completing the team's last order of business before pitchers and catchers report to spring training next Friday.

Gibbons, who turns 27 on March 2, was named Most Valuable Oriole last season after batting .277 with 23 home runs. He led the club in RBIs (100), runs (80), hits (173) and doubles (39) and missed only three games.

By collecting his 100th RBI on Sept. 27, Gibbons, who earned $375,000 last year, became the first Oriole to reach the milestone since Albert Belle and B.J. Surhoff in 1999. He has batted .259 with 66 homers in three seasons since being drafted from the Toronto Blue Jays' organization in 2000.

Gibbons' arbitration hearing was scheduled for Thursday. He requested $2.8 million, and the Orioles countered at $2.4 million before both sides met in the middle.

Reliever B.J. Ryan, second baseman Jerry Hairston and outfielder Luis Matos also signed one-year deals to avoid arbitration, with Ryan settling on Wednesday for $1.275 million. Mora, who's expected to start at third base, signed a three-year contract.

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