Ideally, the Orioles would have loved to announce a long-term contract extension yesterday with second baseman Brian Roberts. But with the two sides still a ways apart on such a deal, they settled for a much shorter solution - for now.
While pledging to continue discussions on a long-term extension, Roberts and the Orioles agreed yesterday to a one-year $4.2 million deal that will allow the 29-year-old to avoid arbitration.
Roberts' 2007 salary represents a $600,000 raise and the midpoint in the arbitration figures exchanged by both parties in mid-January. Roberts asked for $4.6 million; the Orioles offered $3.8 million.
"We're not disappointed," said vice president Jim Duquette when asked about the club's inability to secure a longer-term deal to this point. "These things take time. We're still hopeful and optimistic about working something out."
Duquette declined to give any details of the club's long-term contract talk with Roberts, saying only that the Orioles and Roberts' agent, Mark Pieper, "have had plenty of dialogue and will continue to have dialogue."
According to one club source, much of the discussion has been about a three-year deal that, barring a trade, would keep Roberts as an Oriole through the 2009 season. As it stands, Roberts is under contractual control through 2008.
Roberts, the American League's starting second baseman in the 2005 All-Star Game, made a successful comeback from extensive arm surgery in September 2005, batting .286 with 10 home runs and 55 RBIs in 138 games last season.
His signing leaves the Orioles with two players, starting pitcher Erik Bedard and center fielder Corey Patterson, eligible for arbitration.
"We're continuing to prepare the cases, but we're having positive conversations [with the agents]," Duquette said.