Brian Roberts talks about leaving the Orioles, joining the Yankees and his YES Network comments

January 27, 2014|By Dan Connolly | The Baltimore Sun

I had a chance to talk today to former Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, who signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the rival New York Yankees.

Roberts, 36, can make up to $4.6 million total in 2014 if he reaches 650 plate appearances (it’s an escalating bonus scale that starts at 250 plate appearances).

He is coming off a four-year, $40 million contract extension with the Orioles, the organization that selected him as a supplemental first-round pick in the 1999 first-year player draft. Roberts played 13 seasons with the Orioles, made two All-Star teams and was the face of the franchise – at least until myriad injuries limited him to just 192 games in the past four seasons.

He talks about leaving the Orioles, joining the Yankees, disappointment in never playing in the playoffs for the Orioles and his comments to the Yankees-owned YES Network last week that rankled some Orioles’ fans feathers.

Here is the interview:

To start, what are your thoughts on no longer being an Oriole?

"It’s definitely something that I’m not sure I ever really envisioned. Once I got to a certain point in my career, I just had the feeling or belief that I would play my entire career as an Oriole. It’s something that certainly was very high on my priority list and something that I felt was very special to be able to do. But it didn’t turn out that way. But it doesn’t take away from the 14 or 15 years -- or how many I had been in the organization -- and the time I had there. It doesn’t -- and never will -- detract from that, because every opportunity and every day that I had to be an Oriole was more than I could have ever dreamed of. But at this point it just didn’t happen.”

What it’s like now being a Yankee?

“You know, I’m very excited. I’m excited for the opportunity to continue playing. I am excited for the next stage and being part of a tremendous franchise with so much history. And I think if I was going to have an opportunity to keep playing, I wanted to do it in a setting where I had an opportunity to accomplish something I haven’t had an opportunity to do -- which is hopefully play in the playoffs and have a chance to win a World Series. And I thought going to New York gave me a great opportunity to do that.”

You told the YES Network in a recent interview that you felt it was “time to move on.” What did you mean by that?

“I think some people may have taken that in a different way than I said it. The only thing I meant by that was that I was really moving on because the opportunity to be an Oriole wasn’t there anymore. And that’s perfectly OK. I understand 100 percent that it is a business. And my time there had been great. Obviously, there had been some ups and downs in the past couple years. That was hard on me as an individual and baseball player and hard on the organization, I’m sure, to not have someone on the field that they counted on. So when I said it was time to move on, that was really the only option I had to continue playing, was to move on at that point. That’s what I meant. I didn’t mean it, by any means, that I chose another organization over the Orioles. That wasn’t what happened, and that really wasn’t an option. It was time to move on, and I think the signs were very clear that that was what was going to happen."

The Orioles never approached you in the offseason about a deal and you never approached them. What happened there?

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