Davis' breakout season nets massive pay raise
Slugger joins Hunter, Matusz, Norris, Patton in avoiding salary arbitration
The Baltimore Orioles reportedly handed first baseman Chris Davis a significant raise on Friday, one of five one-year contracts they worked out with arbitration-eligible players ahead of a 1 p.m. ET deadline to exchange salary figures.
While Baltimore also avoided arbitration with pitchers Tommy Hunter, Brian Matusz, Bud Norris and Troy Patton, the process will continue for catcher Matt Wieters. The two-time All-Star has exchanged salary figures with the club, although he can keep negotiating with the O's until his arbitration hearing, which will take place between Feb. 1-21.
That won't be necessary for Davis, whose salary will climb from $3.3 million to $10.35 million, plus incentives, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The 27-year-old was due for a sizable boost after an All-Star season in which he hit .286/.370/.634, led the Majors with 53 home runs and 138 RBIs and finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player Award voting.
Davis would become Baltimore's third-highest-paid player, after right fielder Nick Markakis and center fielder Adam Jones. Davis is eligible to go to arbitration one more time before becoming a free agent after the 2015 season.
Of the Orioles pitchers who reached settlements, Norris received the biggest raise, with The Baltimore Sun reporting that he will go from $3 million to $5.3 million in his second season of arbitration-eligibility and his first full season with Baltimore. The club acquired the right-hander from the Astros at last year's July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline and now has two seasons of control remaining before he hits free agency.
"Today was a great day," Norris tweeted after agreeing to his deal on Thursday night. "So blessed and grateful. And so excited for 2014. #GoO's #blessed #stayhungry"
Norris made 11 appearances for the O's, including nine starts, and went 4-3 with a 4.80 ERA. Overall last season, he was 10-12 with a 3.93 ERA and rates of 7.5 strikeouts and 3.4 walks per nine innings.
Hunter, also in his second arbitration year, will see his salary rise from $1.82 million to $3 million, according to The Sun. The righty, a top candidate to take over as the Orioles' closer in 2014, posted a 2.81 ERA over 86 1/3 relief innings last season, with a 68 to 14 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Left-handed relievers Matusz and Patton are both in their initial arbitration season. Matusz, who converted to the bullpen full-time in 2013, will go from a $1.6 million salary to $2.4 million -- per the New York Post's Joel Sherman -- after posting a 3.53 ERA across 51 innings, with 50 strikeouts, 16 walks and a .168 opponents' average against lefties. Patton will go from $825,000 to $1.275 million -- according to The Sun -- after producing a 3.70 ERA in 56 relief innings, with 42 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Wieters made $5.5 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility and filed at $8.75 million on Friday, while the O's countered with $6.5 million, according to Heyman. Wieters is two seasons away from free agency and is represented by agent Scott Boras, making a contract extension a difficult and expensive proposition. The 27-year-old Wieters should get a raise despite the fact that his offensive rate stats dropped last year, when he hit .235/.287/.417, with 22 homers and 79 RBIs.
Teams and players often meet somewhere close to the midpoint of their proposed figures, although they also can negotiate multiyear deals. If no agreement comes before a hearing, both parties present their case to a three-member panel of judges that weighs the arguments and chooses one of the two salaries.
The O's, like many clubs, mostly avoid hearings. They did, however, take part in one as recently as 2012, when a panel sided with them over pitcher Brad Bergesen.