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Givens, Alberto, Mancini avoid arbitration

@JoeTrezz
January 10, 2020

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles on Friday avoided arbitration with all of their remaining eligible players, inking Trey Mancini, Mychal Givens and Hanser Alberto to one-year contracts prior to the deadline for players and teams to exchange figures. Mancini and Givens will earn $4.75 million and $3.225 million in 2020, respectively,

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles on Friday avoided arbitration with all of their remaining eligible players, inking Trey Mancini, Mychal Givens and Hanser Alberto to one-year contracts prior to the deadline for players and teams to exchange figures.

Mancini and Givens will earn $4.75 million and $3.225 million in 2020, respectively, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, while Alberto will earn $1.65 million plus performances incentives, a source told MLB.com.

The Orioles’ top offensive players last season, Mancini was first-time arb-eligible after a campaign that saw him hit .291/.364/.535 with 35 home runs and 97 RBIs, setting career-highs in almost every major category. He paced the Orioles in doubles, homers, RBI, OBP, SLG, weighted on-base average, weighted runs-created plus, isolated slugging and total bases. This winter, Mancini has had his name included in rumors and speculation as the top trade chip for a rebuilding Orioles club that’s already shopped veterans like Jonathan Villar and Dylan Bundy.

Givens, 29, was arbitration-eligible for the second year after pitching to a career-worst 4.57 ERA over 58 games in 2019, saving 11 of them. Givens did post a career-high 33.1 percent strikeout rate, but he also allowed 13 homers, a career high. He earned $2.15 million last season -- a year in which he was tasked with handling the overwhelming majority of Baltimore’s high-leverage situations.

Prior to 2019, Givens had pitched to a 3.12 ERA in 226 career appearances, mostly in a setup role. He is expected to reprise his fireman role for the Orioles in '20, likely getting the lion’s share of the club’s ninth-inning duties.

Alberto was arbitration-eligible for the first year after breaking out to the tune of a .305/.329/.422 slash line in 2019, his first full season in the Majors. One of baseball’s top contact hitters, Alberto competed for the American League batting title and hit a whopping .398 against left-handed pitching, the second-best mark in the Majors among qualified batters. He added 12 homers and posted MLB’s lowest strikeout rate, at 9.1 percent.

A journeyman who changed organizations four times last winter, Alberto became a regular presence in the leadoff spot last season while playing primarily second and third base. He was projected to earn $2.25 million in arbitration, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

The club previously settled with relievers Miguel Castro ($1.05 million) and Richard Bleier ($915,000) and traded Bundy (to the Angels) and Villar (to the Marlins). They last went to hearing with a player in 2017, losing their case to Brad Brach but beating Caleb Joseph.

ROSTER MOVE

The Orioles also added some infield depth on Friday, claiming former Blue Jay Richard Ureña off waivers from Toronto. The club designated utiltyman Pat Valaika for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.

Valaika, 27, was claimed off waivers on October 30 from Colorado. He can remain in the organization if he clears.

Ureña, 23, hit .253 with two home runs and a .636 OPS across parts of the last three seasons with Toronto, appearing in 91 total games. He enjoyed a strong showing in the Dominican Winter League this offseason, slashing .292/.367/.365 for Gigantes. He is a switch-hitter and natural shortstop, where the Orioles had been looking for organizational depth behind recently-signed Jose Iglesias. Though Valaika’s calling card is his versatility, the O’s did not view him as a real option at shortstop.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.