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O's decline to offer four arbitration

O's decline to offer four arbitration

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles declined to offer arbitration to any of their outgoing free agents Monday, allowing a league-wide deadline to pass without incident. None of Baltimore's four free agents -- Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, Juan Castro and Alex Cintron -- were eligible for Draft pick compensation had they been offered arbitration.

None of the four veterans were designated as either Type A nor Type B free agents, giving the Orioles an easy decision in terms of arbitration. Baltimore can still retain any of those players by entering into the bidding on the open market, but there was little or no advantage to be had by offering them arbitration.

In reality, the Orioles aren't expected to make a serious play for any of their free agents, but Millar likely represents the best chance of the four to return. Baltimore is attempting to make a high-dollar bid for local native Mark Teixeira at first base, and even if that falls through, it would likely move Aubrey Huff over from designated hitter.

Millar, a three-year starter in Baltimore, has voiced his desire to come back and likely will be available to sign late in the process. Over time, Millar may well assert his case to be a fitting contingency plan.

Things are a little more obvious with Payton, who grew uncomfortable with his role last season. Baltimore's outfield appears to be set -- with Luke Scott, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis nailing down jobs -- and Payton is believed to want a shot at a starting job in another city, and failing that, to play for a contender.

Baltimore also has former first-round pick Lou Montanez and prospect Nolan Reimold vying for reserve jobs in the outfield, a twin presence that makes it easier to move on from Payton and pursue a new direction.

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Castro and Cintron were both part of Baltimore's laborious attempt to crown a starting shortstop job last year, a search that will continue into this offseason and perhaps beyond. Both veterans held the starting role at one point or another, as did light-hitting utility types like Luis Hernandez, Freddie Bynum and Brandon Fahey.

Both Castro and Cintron likely will move on, and both may wind up signing Minor League deals with invites to Spring Training. Baltimore, meanwhile, will search for a new shortstop through every means available.

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

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