The Orioles and owner Peter Angelos are faced with a problem they haven’t had since Mike Mussina was short-changed by the club and headed off to New York.
They have to pay the going rate and then some or risk the embarrassment of losing a player they’ve groomed over several years. It’s only fair to mention that neither Jones or Wieters is obligated to sign in Baltimore. One or both could simply say “No thanks, I’ll just play this thing out and test free agency when it comes around.” That’s their choice. Doing that, though, would rob them of making big money sometime soon, particularly Wieters, who is only making $500,000 in this, his 4th season with the club.
It’s incumbent upon the Orioles to do the chasing in this case. They must make signing Jones and Wieters a priority, effective immediately. This is what everyone wanted. It’s time to pay the two of them or risk having them go elsewhere.
Losing one would be crushing. Losing both would be catastrophic.
Call it roughly somewhere between $250 and $300 million the Orioles will probably have to shell out over a 6-10 year period considering the staggered nature of the respective free agency years of their stars.
If the rumors about Peter Angelos being interested in selling the team are true, how much harder would it be to get his desired asking price if the first thing a prospective buyer sees is a couple hundred million dollars of GUARANTEED money on the books for two players?
Then again, it might be easier to sell the team if a new owner is inheriting a winner, no matter what the accountants say.
But in the world of Angelos, particularly now, 20 some years into his ownership, it’s apparent that money continues to be the driving force behind the team and the MASN television network he owns.
And early next month, the Washington Nationals could win a legal battle with MASN that might very well take their annual rights fee from $30 million a year to $60 million or more over the next five years.
What if MASN comes up on the short end of that legal scrap as most believe they will? That’s $30 million of lost revenue for MASN and a direct blow to the wallet of Angelos and, indirectly, the Orioles.
If the Nationals deal calls for $60 million or more in annual rights fees, will Jones and Wieters possibly suffer because of it?
Sure, that could happen.
But it better not.
Under no circumstances should the Nationals affect the Orioles and their ability to sign or re-sign any players. But we’ve seen this movie plenty of times before. The Orioles talk about being involved in the free agent market. They sniff around and make an offer or two, but when the dust settles it’s always someone else having the press conference to announce their new player. In that regard, it wouldn’t at all be surprising to see the Birds balk at having to cough up upwards of $100 million to Adam Jones.
$100 million is a lot of money, particularly when it has to be guaranteed.
It’s nearly $30 million more than the largest contract the Orioles have ever paid one player.
But that’s what we all wanted five years ago when Jones showed up and Wieters was drafted.
We just wanted the Orioles to get better.
And we knew the only way they’d get better would be by bringing in better players.
Well, they’re here now.
And it’s time to start paying them.
As George Clooney said in “The Perfect Storm”…”this separates the men from the boys”.
The real teams, the winners…they pay their talent.
The imposters let their best players go somewhere else and get rich.
The Orioles better not be imposters this time around.