At long last it seems as though the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to sign Brian Roberts to a long-term contract extension. On the surface this is a great move. I think, however, that I have found a problem or two with this contract agreement.
First, yes Roberts is a big draw to the Baltimore fan base, but the O's had made him a fair offer when it was the proposed three years for $30M. It was known that he wanted four years, but the reason why the O's offered him three years is because of his age. Roberts is 31 this year and now, at the end of his extension that is rumored to be starting in 2010, will be 36. Had he agreed to the three year contract he would be 35.
I was fully behind the O's for offering him only a three year deal and thought the money was fair. Obviously, the player wants to get his best deal and four years is an excellent deal for the player, but if the O's develop another second baseman and Roberts has a no-trade clause (I'm not sure at this point if he does) what does the organization do with the major league-ready ballplayer?
Secondly, I thought Roberts was very worthwhile on the trade market. I like the guy. I think he's great at what he does and is wonderful in the community, but the Orioles are in rebuilding mode. If perhaps the front office traded him the farm system could have been even more flush with new players or prospects and more pitching could have been added at the Major League or Triple-A levels.
At one point this offseason it was rumored Roberts was being shopped to the White Sox for local product Gavin Floyd and possibly another player. I think this would have been a great trade for the Orioles. Not only would the team have gotten even younger, but they would have gotten a local boy in Floyd and a major league-ready second baseman in Chris Getz.
Overall, however, I'm happy that both sides are close to sealing the deal. Roberts is a homegrown product of the O's system and has been through many losing seasons with the organization. Hopefully, with the direction Andy MacPhail is taking the team, and some time for the young guys to develop, the Orioles will be contenders in the American League before B-Rob's contract expires.