SARASOTA, Fla. — The Orioles announced Tuesday that the remaining unsigned players in camp have come to terms, but not everyone came along voluntarily. The club exercised its right under Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement and renewed the contracts of Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Jason Berken after negotiations failed to produce agreement on their 2010 salaries.
The union contract allows a team to pay its "zero-to-three" players (players with less than three years of major league service) any amount, so long as it does not tender a contract for less than the major league minimum salary or cut a player's previous salary more than 20 percent. But that doesn't mean team officials enjoy putting that hammer down.
"I don't particularly care for that part of it," Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. "It's been part of our system for a long time. We counted over 200 guys who have been renewed in this CBA. A lot of them get multiyear deals, but if I could create my ideal system, this wouldn't be it."
The players obviously don't relish the renewal process either, but all the affected Orioles accepted their contractual fate without public rancor. "It's part of the business," Wieters said. "I understand their side, and we still get paid pretty good to play this game. It's definitely not a big deal. It's just something that's sort of on the business side and now I'm just going out there and play, so that's good."
Though automatic renewal is not the happiest outcome for the players involved, it's not necessarily a harbinger of a bad long-term relationship with the team. When Nick Markakis was renewed by the Orioles a couple of years ago, it was viewed by some as a provocation that might lead to his becoming a free agent later in his career, but Markakis signed a six-year, $66.1 million contract extension last January.
"You just have to deal with it," Markakis said Tuesday. "That's part of baseball that you have to deal with, and that's part of putting your service time in first. In the long run, I think players make out better than what they think or what they can complain about. It is what it is, and you just have to put it behind you when you're done."
That advice must have gotten around the clubhouse, because all the players involved said essentially the same thing.
"There's no need for both sides to get into any war," Jones said. "Let's just play out this year. If it's all going to work out, it works out. Before you're arbitration-eligible, I guess they can do whatever they want."
If anyone had reason to be frustrated with the process, it would be Jones, who has been renewed at a salary of $465,000. He lost a tiebreaker to qualify for "Super-2" status, which means he missed being eligible for salary arbitration by one day of service time. Jones said the renewal should not affect his chances of staying in Baltimore for the long run.
"If they want me to be here for a long time, I would love to be here for a long time," Jones said. "They've expressed the same interest. You just let Andy and Baltimore and my agents do their work. I want to build on what I did last year. You just have to keep improving."
Reimold and Berken also accepted their contractual fate without complaint.
"No hard feelings," Reimold said. "I understand both ways."
The list of young players who agreed to terms: Robert Andino, Michael Aubrey, Josh Bell, Brad Bergesen, Alberto Castillo, Brandon Erbe, Pedro Florimon, David Hernandez, Rhyne Hughes, Jim Johnson, Luis Lebron, Kam Mickolio, Lou Montanez, Troy Patton, Wilfrido Perez, Felix Pie, Dennis Sarfate, Brandon Snyder, Chorye Spoone, Craig Tatum, Chris Tillman and Justin Turner.