Tag Archive | "MLB"

Orioles agree to one-year deal with lefty reliever Wright

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with lefty reliever Wright

Posted on 16 December 2014 by Luke Jones

Searching to fill the void left behind by the departure of Andrew Miller, the Orioles agreed to terms on a one-year deal with left-handed relief pitcher Wesley Wright on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old went 0-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 48 1/3 innings with the Chicago Cubs last season. In seven major league seasons, Wright sports a 10-18 record with a 4.17 ERA, but the lefty has posted a 3.25 ERA in his last four seasons split among Chicago, Tampa Bay, and Houston.

In 2014, left-handed hitters posted a .273 batting average and a .594 on-base plus slugging percentage and didn’t record an extra-base hit while right-handed bats sported a .255 mark with a .719 OPS. Wright wasn’t tendered a contract with the Cubs and is scheduled to become a free agent after the 2015 season.

Wright’s addition gives manager Buck Showalter another left-hander to throw into the mix with closer Zach Britton, lefty specialist Brian Matusz, and long reliever T.J. McFarland. Matusz has been discussed in trade talks, but he remains with the organization for now.

A seventh-round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2003 draft, Wright made two appearances with the Rays in the 2013 American League Division Series, allowing a hit and a walk in two-thirds of an inning against Boston.

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Orioles first baseman Davis receives approval for Adderall

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Orioles first baseman Davis receives approval for Adderall

Posted on 16 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles hope first baseman Chris Davis can bounce back from a nightmarish 2014 campaign that ended with him being suspended 25 games for testing positive for Adderall.

It now appears that he’s been approved to use the drug for the 2015 season. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters Tuesday that Davis recently told him that he received a therapeutic use exemption from Major League Baseball to use the drug commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Davis reportedly had an exemption to use the drug when he was a member of the Texas Rangers, but it’s believed that growing concern over the high use of Adderall has led to baseball creating a more stringent process for issuing approval in recent years. Roughly 10 percent of players on 40-man rosters in the major leagues presented notes from doctors for Adderall use last year.

Even if the newly-secured exemption may bring some closure to the disappointment of last season, trying to determine how much Adderall might impact Davis’ performance is difficult. He allegedly didn’t have an exemption to use it in 2013 when he hit a franchise-record 53 home runs. In contrast, he tested positive for the second time in his career — the first failed test reportedly came when he was still a member of the Rangers and didn’t carry a suspension — in the midst of a season in which he hit .196 and saw his long-ball total fall to 26.

The 28-year-old still has one game remaining on his 25-game suspension that began on Sept. 12 and made him ineligible for the Orioles’ 2014 postseason run.

Entering his final season before hitting free agency, Davis will look to prove he’s more like the player who was the major league home run king in 2013 and not the player who struggled throughout 2014 and saw his season end in disgrace. The Orioles would gladly take a compromise resembling his first full season with the Orioles in 2012 when he hit .270 with 33 homers, 85 runs batted in, and an .827 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Davis posting numbers in that neighborhood would go a long way in helping replace the void left behind by Nelson Cruz, who departed via free agency earlier this month to sign a four-year, $57 million contract with Seattle.

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Orioles add two right-handed pitchers in Rule 5 draft

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Orioles add two right-handed pitchers in Rule 5 draft

Posted on 11 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles completed their quiet week at the annual winter meetings in San Diego Thursday with the addition of two right-handed pitchers in the Rule 5 draft.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette acquired pitcher Jason Garcia in exchange for cash considerations from the Houston Astros after he’d been selected fourth overall in the Rule 5 draft from the Boston Red Sox organization. The Orioles then selected right-hander Logan Verrett from the New York Mets organization.

The 22-year-old Garcia carries some intrigue as he was clocked in the high 90s while pitching in the instructional league this fall. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2013, Garcia went 3-2 with three saves and a 3.67 ERA in 56 1/3 innings between short-season Single-A Lowell and Single-A Greenville.

Garcia struck out 9.4 batters per nine innings and held right-handed hitters to a .189 average in 121 total plate appearances. The Orioles are expected to take a look at him as a relief pitcher during spring training, but keeping him would restrict their roster flexibility because of the need to keep him on the 25-man roster.

Originally selected by Boston in the 17th round of the 2010 amateur draft out of Land O’Lakes High School in Florida, Garcia has gone 15-16 with a 4.69 ERA in 73 minor league games (51 starts).

The 24-year-old Verrett went 11-5 with a 4.33 ERA in 28 starts spanning 162 innings with Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014. He went 28-13 with a 3.89 ERA in his three years in the Mets organization.

Verrett was originally selected in the third round of the 2011 amateur draft out of Baylor University.

The additions of Garcia and Verrett mean the Orioles currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster. Garcia and Verrett would need to remain on the 25-man roster all season.

This marks the fourth straight year that Duquette has added at least one player in the Rule 5 draft, taking infielder Ryan Flaherty in 2011, left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland in 2012, and infielder Michael Almanzar last year.

In the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles selected outfielder and first baseman Sean Halton of the Milwaukee organization in the Triple-A phase.

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Report: Blue Jays team president staying put for 2015 season

Posted on 09 December 2014 by Luke Jones

It appears the uncertainty surrounding Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was all for nothing.

According to the Toronto Sun and FOX Sports, Toronto Blue Jays team president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston will remain in the position through the 2015 season. The news likely means the Orioles can rest easy about Duquette, who was reportedly interested in the job and viewed as a top candidate.

It remains unclear why news of potential replacements for the Blue Jays position was floated, but Orioles owner Peter Angelos made it clear Sunday that he expected Duquette to honor his current contract that runs through the 2018 season. Duquette reiterated Monday that he was under contract and representing the Orioles at the winter meetings, but he didn’t go out of his way to squash reports of his potential interest in joining the Blue Jays.

Beeston has spent large stretches of the last four decades working in the Blue Jays organization, serving as CEO from 1991 through 1997 and then returning to Toronto in the same capacity in 2008 after a five-year stint as the chief operating officer of Major League Baseball.

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Will trust become issue between Duquette, Angelos?

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Will trust become issue between Duquette, Angelos?

Posted on 08 December 2014 by Luke Jones

After Orioles owner Peter Angelos made his stance perfectly clear on what he expects to be a long future for Dan Duquette in Baltimore, the executive vice president of baseball operations didn’t exactly squash the rumors and reports linking him to the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday.

Speaking to reporters gathered in San Diego for the MLB winter meetings, Duquette reaffirmed what he said Sunday about being under contract with the Orioles, but his words did little to negate reports of him being interested in becoming the new president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays. The 56-year-old is under contract with Baltimore through the 2018 season, but the Blue Jays position would represent the kind of promotion any general manager around baseball would be intrigued to at least explore.

“I’m here with the Orioles, and my focus is with the Orioles and helping the Orioles put together the strongest team that they can have in 2015,” Duquette told reporters Monday afternoon. “We have a lot of the pieces here. We have a good farm system, we have established people in the big leagues and we have a good pitching staff, so to me it’s really a matter of adding some pieces and we can contend again.”

According to the Toronto Sun, Paul Beeston is expected to remain in the position through the 2015 season, so it’s a mystery why the Blue Jays would be reaching out to potential replacements at this early stage. It’s believed that Toronto hasn’t requested permission to talk to Duquette about the position, and Angelos made it clear in interviews with local media Sunday that the Orioles won’t be willing to “relinquish” their rights.

It isn’t difficult to understand either side’s position, regardless of whether there are real legs to Duquette being a top candidate for the Blue Jays job. In any career field, you can understand a person being interested in the possibility of a lucrative promotion — even if they’re happy with their current job. By all accounts, Duquette has been happy in Baltimore and appreciative of the long-term commitment, but the opportunity to be in charge of all facets of an entire organization — not just baseball operations — has to be intriguing.

On the flip side, the Orioles can’t appreciate the timing of the news on the eve of the winter meetings, a critical juncture in the offseason when they’re trying to make signings or trades to improve your club. And it was the Orioles who hired Duquette after he spent nearly a decade away from the majors and then Angelos offered him a six-year commitment after only one year on the job.

It may be considered industry protocol to allow an executive to interview for a promotion, but how far does that go when you’re already deep into the offseason and that promotion is potentially coming with a division rival?

Even if the talk of the last couple days doesn’t lead anywhere, it’s fair to wonder if the trust between Duquette and Angelos will be harmed moving forward.

Duquette deserves plenty of credit for the work he’s done in his three years with the Orioles, but will his heart be in finishing the job of building a championship club if the organization ultimately denies him permission to at least explore the kind of promotion that doesn’t appear to be available with the current ownership structure in Baltimore?

And by all accounts, Angelos has put his trust in Duquette to run the baseball side of the organization without any significant whispers of the owner meddling. The decision to let outfielder Nick Markakis — one of Angelos’ favorites — leave via free agency appeared to be a prime example of Duquette’s autonomy, but would his flirtation with the Blue Jays prompt the owner to rethink that trust and that long-term commitment he made prior to the 2013 season?

With so many needs to address on the field between now and Opening Day, the Orioles hardly needed their infrastructure to come into question at the start of one of the more important weeks of the winter.

You can only hope there isn’t long-term fallout, regardless of the outcome.

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Report: Duquette wants to leave Orioles to become Blue Jays president/CEO

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Report: Duquette wants to leave Orioles to become Blue Jays president/CEO

Posted on 07 December 2014 by Luke Jones

What’s already been a difficult offseason for the Orioles could become much worse.

Multiple outlets are reporting executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is a candidate to become the president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Blue Jays. Duquette wants to take the position with only owner Peter Angelos standing in the way, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.

The 56-year-old is under contract through the 2018 season and helped guide the Orioles to their first two playoff appearances and first American League East title since 1997. However, it could be difficult for the organization to stand in his way from a pragmatic standpoint if his heart is truly in running another organization.

Angelos made it clear to MASNSports.com that he has no intention of letting Duquette jump ship.

“They would have to contact us and ask if we’re willing to relinquish him,” Angelos said in the interview. “We’re not relinquishing him, period. He’s signed for four more years, and we’re delighted by the team’s performance. We intend for him to remain for the next four years. We’re satisfied with him, obviously.”

Baltimore would likely seek compensation from the Blue Jays if Duquette were to be allowed to leave.

The Orioles have already lost outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis and left-handed reliever Andrew Miller in free agency this offseaosn, but Duquette’s departure would be a stunning blow for an organization that appeared to turn a corner following 14 consecutive losing seasons. Duquette was recognized as the executive of the year by Sporting News and Baseball America after the Orioles won 96 games to run away with the division title.

Duquette previously served as the general manager for the Montreal Expos from 1991 through 1994 and for the Boston Red Sox from 1994 through 2002. He has often spoken fondly of the late Harry Dalton, who once served as Orioles general manager and gave Duquette his start as a scouting assistant with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1980.

The executive addressed the rumors on MLB Network Radio after he arrived in San Diego for the winter meetings.

“Well, I’m with the Orioles, OK?” he said. “I’m here to represent the Orioles at the meetings, and I don’t really have anything to add other than that. These rumors, they come up in the industry all the time and I don’t spend a lot of time speculating on the rumors and I’m not in a position to do that here, either.

“And I do have a contract, and I’ve always honored my contract, so I appreciate the interest, and I don’t have anything else to add.”

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Ex-Orioles reliever Miller agrees to join Yankees

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Ex-Orioles reliever Miller agrees to join Yankees

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Luke Jones

In a move that was expected after the Orioles hadn’t pursued him in free agency, left-handed relief pitcher Andrew Miller agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract to join the New York Yankees on Friday.

The news comes at the end of a very difficult week for the Orioles after they had already lost free-agent outfielders Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to the Seattle Mariners and the Atlanta Braves, respectively. It remains undetermined whether Miller will assume the closer role in New York, but his deal would be the richest awarded to a non-closer relief pitcher in major league history.

Acquired from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez on July 31, Miller was a major part of the Orioles’ push for their first American League East title since 1997. The 6-foot-7 lefty pitched to a 1.35 ERA and struck out 34 hitters in 20 innings for Baltimore to close out the regular season, stepping into a late-inning role to set up for closer Zach Britton.

Miller’s work was even more dominating in the postseason as he pitched 7 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed only one hit while striking out eight.

The Orioles were never in the picture in terms of keeping Miller as he was always expected to receive lucrative money, but his destination is bad news for the rest of the AL East.  Miller will join right-hander Dellin Betances in forming what could be the most dominating relief duo in the major leagues.

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Cold, hard numbers prevail over emotion with Markakis’ departure

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Cold, hard numbers prevail over emotion with Markakis’ departure

Posted on 03 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles faced difficult free-agent decisions entering the offseason after winning their first American League East title in 17 years.

The anticipated departures of slugger Nelson Cruz and shutdown lefty reliever Andrew Miller certainly hurt from an on-field standpoint, but both were hired guns for the 2014 season with little emotional attachment.

But longtime right fielder Nick Markakis?

That one hurts. It hurts a lot.

It stings fans, teammates who adore him and respect his everyday approach, and manager Buck Showalter, who has often said Markakis is the kind of player whose value isn’t fully felt until you don’t have him anymore.

That sentiment now becomes reality, and we’ll learn how true the manager’s words ring.

The organization’s longest-tenured player departing to sign a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday hurts as much as any Oriole to leave via free agency since longtime ace Mike Mussina joined the New York Yankees 14 years ago. After making his home in Monkton, Markakis was supposed to spend his entire career with the Orioles.

One of the lasting images of a wonderful 2014 season was watching Markakis, after enduring years of losing in Baltimore, celebrate the Orioles’ first division title since 1997 when they clinched in mid-September. After he could only watch the Orioles in the 2012 playoffs because of a season-ending thumb injury sustained a month earlier, the 2003 first-round pick finally earned his first taste of postseason play in his ninth major league season.

So, how did it get to this point after nearly everyone assumed that Markakis would be back?

Both local and national outlets reported a month ago that the Orioles and Markakis were working toward a four-year deal in the neighborhood of what the Braves ultimately paid the veteran outfielder. Concerns over a herniated disc in his neck discovered in 2013 reportedly prompted the Orioles to hedge on a guaranteed fourth year as the weeks progressed while Atlanta offered no such trepidation in bringing Markakis back to his home state.

Frustrated fans will understandably question the Orioles’ loyalty in how they negotiated and in ultimately failing to retain their longest-tenured player, but how much responsibility should Markakis hold? If he were truly committed to staying, why not sign a month ago when a similar offer was allegedly on the table instead of holding out for more and giving the Orioles the opportunity to rethink their position?

For as much as Markakis has been valued for his durability and consistency throughout his tenure in Baltimore, let’s not pretend the $30 million he earned in his final two seasons with the Orioles was reciprocated with similar value in production.

And that’s when we begin to view Markakis as the fascinating case study of weighing the old-school “gamer” against the cold, hard numbers he produces.

A look at the negative reaction from players via social media in the hours after the announcement suggests how unpopular the move will be in the Orioles clubhouse. Though a quiet man who doesn’t draw attention to himself, Markakis was a prime example of the club’s sum being better than its parts over the last three winning years. He plays the game the right way and is admired by teammates and fans alike.

But how much can and should you pay for those intangibles?

Assessing his value based solely on what shows up in the box score, Markakis likely isn’t worth close to $44 million over the next four seasons. In fact, observers with no apparent agenda are already saying the Braves will wildly regret investing so much in an outfielder whose numbers have declined over the last couple years.

Though he never developed the home run power some projected him to earlier in his career, Markakis averaged more than 65 extra-base hits per year from 2007 through 2010. He’s averaged just under 42 in each of the four years since, with only 34 in 160 games in 2013. What was once a gap hitter who regularly hit more than 40 doubles per year has become much more of a singles hitter — with little speed — in recent years.

His slugging percentage has dipped below .400 in each of the last two seasons, and he has only posted an on-base plus slugging percentage above .756 once in the last four years — his injury-abbreviated 2012 campaign when he produced an .834 OPS in only 471 plate appearances. Though a very good and dependable right fielder with a strong arm that resulted in him winning his second Gold Glove in 2014, Markakis’ range in right field has declined and figures to get worse over the next four years.

Those numbers aren’t presented to suggest Markakis no longer has any value as his durability, leadership, and work ethic can’t easily be quantified and will certainly be missed in addition to what he can still bring with the bat. But the numbers do confirm there is strong evidence to suggest he’s not worthy of a four-year investment after already showing substantial decline in recent seasons.

Only time will tell if the Orioles regret their decision based on how effectively they’re able to replace their longtime right fielder and on how he plays in his new home. It’s quite possible executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette made the responsible call, but that will only matter if the Orioles find a quality replacement at the top of the order and in right field to continue the momentum of three straight winning seasons and a 2014 division title.

That will be easier said than done based on what options are available on the open market unless they plan to overpay some other player after drawing a line in the sand with the longest-tenured member of the organization.

The numbers and projections certainly shouldn’t be ignored, but baseball isn’t played in a vacuum, either. Markakis will be missed by teammates and fans alike, but the cold, hard numbers ultimately prevailed.

Markakis wasn’t the biggest or only reason why the Orioles have won over the last three years, but he has been a significant part of what they’ve done. He’s been one of their rare hitters to work counts and get on base — major weaknesses for the club despite their winning record — and one of their most influential presences in a clubhouse that’s been harmonious under Showalter.

Despite the disappointment and the frustration felt by many over the lifelong Oriole’s departure and the questions it creates, four months remain before Opening Day. Duquette deserves some benefit of the doubt after a very rocky start to the offseason in which two key everyday players have bolted.

But the Orioles have a lot of work to do to appease both a shaken fan base and an unhappy clubhouse.

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Longtime Oriole Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta

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Longtime Oriole Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta

Posted on 03 December 2014 by Luke Jones

A 12-year relationship is no more as longtime Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has agreed to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Two days after 2014 home run champion Nelson Cruz departed Baltimore to sign a four-year, $57 million with Seattle, the longest-tenured player in the organization agreed to a contract worth $44 million, according to Yahoo Sports. The 31-year-old Markakis will be returning to his home state of Georgia where he grew up north of Atlanta in nearby Woodstock.

The Orioles and Markakis had engaged in talks last month that appeared to be progressing toward a four-year deal, but discussions stalled as the organization reportedly became hesitant about the idea of guaranteeing four years to the two-time Gold Glove outfielder. Markakis’ offensive production has declined in recent years, but replacing his ability at the top of the order and in right field as well as his presence in the clubhouse will be easier said than done.

After a rough 2013 season in which he hit a career-low .271 with 10 home runs, 59 runs batted in, and only a .685 on-base plus slugging percentage, Markakis rebounded some last season to bat .276 with 14 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a .729 OPS. His slugging percentage fell below the .400 mark in each of the last two years with his once-impressive gap power that once produced more than 40 doubles per season in clear decline.

The seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft, Markakis appeared in his first postseason with the Orioles this past October, hitting .258 with one home runs and three RBIs.

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Orioles tender contracts to Davis, Matusz, nine other arbitration-eligible players

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Orioles tender contracts to Davis, Matusz, nine other arbitration-eligible players

Posted on 02 December 2014 by Luke Jones

There were no surprises prior to Tuesday night’s deadline for arbitration-eligible players as the Orioles tendered contracts to all 11 eligible in that department.

The group includes position players Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Ryan Flaherty, Steve Pearce, and Alejandro De Aza and pitchers Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton, and Brian Matusz. There had been some debate about the futures of Davis, De Aza, Hunter, and Matusz, but the Orioles tendered each a contract with the former three set to become free agents after the 2015 season.

As is always the case with arbitration situations, the sides will exchange salary figures in hopes of meeting somewhere in the middle and avoiding a hearing. For now, each player simply remains under club control as the Orioles can include them in any potential trade.

Though it was previously undetermined whether the Orioles would retain De Aza, his presence becomes even more important after the free-agent departure of Nelson Cruz and the undetermined status of free-agent outfielder Nick Markakis. De Aza batted .293 with the Orioles after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox in late August and is projected to make $5.9 million in 2015, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

Davis is coming off an abysmal season in which he hit only .196 and was suspended 25 games for amphetamine use, but the memory of his 53-homer campaign in 2013 was too much to ignore as he enters his final season before free agency. After making $10.3 million in 2014, Davis is projected to receive a raise to $11.8 million next season.

Perhaps the most questionable decision was tendering Matusz a contract as the lefty specialist is projected to make $2.7 million in 2015. The 27-year-old remained effective against left-handed hitting in 2014, but he once again struggled against right-handed hitters, who posted an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage against him.

Of the Orioles’ other arbitration-eligible players, Pearce figures to receive a significant bump after a career year while arbitration first-timers Tillman, Gonzalez, and Britton are in line for significant raises after impressive accomplishments in 2014.

Davis, Wieters, De Aza, Norris, Pearce, and Hunter are all scheduled to become free agents next offseason.

Below is a list of of Baltimore’s 11 arbitration players with their MLBTradeRumors.com projected salaries for 2015 in parentheses:

LHP Zach Britton ($3.2 million after making $521,500 in 2014)
INF Chris Davis: ($11.8 million after making $10.3 million in 2014)
OF Alejandro De Aza ($5.9 million after making $4.25 million in 2014)
INF Ryan Flaherty ($1 million after making $513,000 in 2014)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez ($3.7 million after making $529,000 in 2014)
RHP Tommy Hunter ($4.4 million after making $3 million in 2014)
LHP Brian Matusz ($2.7 million after making $2.4 million in 2014)
RHP Bud Norris ($8.7 million after making $5.3 million in 2014)
1B/OF Steve Pearce ($2.2 million after making $700,000 in 2014)
RHP Chris Tillman ($5.4 million after making $546,000 in 2014)
C Matt Wieters ($7.9 million after making $7.7 million in 2014)

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