Orioles agree to terms with Scott; Guthrie lone arbitration-eligible player left

Slated to move back to left field, controversial slugger will make $6.4 million

February 10, 2011|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

Luke Scott's 2011 season will start with a position switch and a hefty raise.

The club's 2010 Most Valuable Oriole agreed to a one-year, $6.4 million deal Thursday, allowing him to avoid an arbitration hearing for the third consecutive offseason. Scott also can receive up to $350,000 additionally if he wins certain awards, such as Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and MVP.

"I am happy and I feel the Orioles are happy with it," Scott said. "It's a good situation. I am going to give my best — regardless I always give my best — but it is a good feeling going into spring training that now I can be totally, totally focused in my mind on this upcoming season."

The sides compromised on a salary slightly above the mid-point after Scott asked for $6.85 million and the club countered with a $5.7 million offer when they exchanged figures in mid-January. Scott's hearing, which was set for Monday in Phoenix, has been canceled.

"I wasn't concerned. On my part, I was very prepared (for a hearing)," Scott said. "My team was prepared. (Agent Page Odle) had done a great job and it's a business. That's part of the business."

Scott's signing leaves starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie as the Orioles' lone arbitration eligible player who has not settled on a 2011 deal. Guthrie has asked for $6.5 million while the Orioles offered $5 million. The sides continue to negotiate, but if they cannot work out a deal, Guthrie's hearing will be Wednesday in Phoenix.

Scott, 32, made $4.05 million last year, but is coming off his best big-league season. He hit .284 with 27 home runs and 72 RBIs in 131 games and led the team in homers, slugging percentage (.535) and on-base-plus-slugging (.902). He was second on the team in RBIs despite missing much of July with a hamstring injury.

After becoming the Orioles' primary designated hitter in 2010, he'll move back to the outfield now that the Orioles have agreed to terms with DH Vladimir Guerrero.

"It's been a really good situation for me, getting to go back to doing something I love, playing left field," he said.

In his three seasons with the Orioles, Scott has become a fan favorite in Baltimore for his accessibility to fans, his work ethic and his positive attitude. He also has rankled some with his outspoken nature, commenting publicly on religion and politics, including criticism in December of President Barack Obama.

Although not eligible for free agency until after the 2012 season, Scott would like to sign a long-term deal, but at this point the Orioles have not pursued that possibility. Scott is in California now, but expects to be in Sarasota by the end of next week, a few days before Feb. 21, the first workout day for Orioles' position players.

"I am excited with the bats they have added to our lineup. All are great additions to our team, and I am excited about the young pitching staff that really matured for us last year," Scott said. "I am excited to see what happens."

The Orioles settled four of their six arbitration cases without formally exchanging numbers, agreeing with Felix Pie ($985,000), Jim Johnson ($975,000), Adam Jones ($3.25 million) and J.J. Hardy (5.85 million).

The Orioles haven't gone to a hearing with a player since pitcher Rodrigo Lopez before the 2006 season. They haven't lost a hearing in six tries with general counsel H. Russell Smouse and his son, Greg, presenting their side.

Sun writer Jeff Zrebiec contributed to this article.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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