Orioles sign Roberts to one-year deal

Orioles sign Roberts, avoid arbitration

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles signed leadoff man Brian Roberts to a one-year deal with a base salary of $4.2 million Thursday, avoiding arbitration with the veteran second baseman. That figure is exactly midway between the proposals floated by Roberts ($4.6 million) and the team ($3.8 million) in the early stages of the arbitration process. Baltimore still has two players eligible for arbitration.

Roberts didn't put up huge numbers in 2006, but he completed his comeback from a devastating injury to his left elbow. The second baseman had to undergo reconstructive surgery and a grueling rehab process that dragged into Spring Training. He was ready for Opening Day, but his power didn't come back until the second half.

Roberts hit nine of his 10 home runs after the All-Star break, and he finished second on the Orioles with 36 stolen bases. Despite those strong points, most of his statistics dropped precipitously from his All-Star season of 2005. That was expected after his injury, but now Roberts can make a run at matching or surpassing his career year.

The switch-hitter is under organizational control for one more year after '06, and there are reports that the O's would like to sign him to an extension. Those negotiations may be ongoing for the next few months. In his new deal, Roberts can earn an extra $50,000 for an All-Star berth or a Gold Glove Award, and $25,000 for the Silver Slugger.

"This doesn't preclude us from signing an extension," Baltimore vice president of baseball operations Jim Duquette said. "We've had discussions in the past and we'll continue to have discussions on it."

The Orioles' last two potential arbitration cases belong to Erik Bedard and Corey Patterson. Bedard's agent asked for a $4 million salary, and Baltimore countered with a $2.7 million offer. Patterson's case is a little closer, with just $600,000 standing between the team's offer ($4 million) and his agent's proposal ($4.6 million).

In other news, Baltimore learned that Marino Salas was claimed off waivers by the Brewers. Salas was designated for assignment earlier in the week, right after the Orioles claimed Jeremy Guthrie from Cleveland.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.