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This one could end up being the toughest decision of all. Or it could end up being the easiest.
Brian Roberts has spent 13 years as a Baltimore Oriole. During that time, he has compiled a .278 batting average, .349 OBP, 278 stolen bases and led the league in doubles twice.
However, Roberts has spent the last four seasons on and off the DL, playing in just 192 games during that time period. Roberts was a model of health and consistency during the first nine seasons of his career, but has since fallen off the baseball world's radar due to his injury-plagued status.
So why would the Orioles want a 36-year-old injury-plagued second baseman back? Well, Roberts is currently the longest-tenured Oriole, having spent his whole career in Baltimore, so loyalty comes into play. The O's love Roberts and Roberts loves the O's, so naturally there's mutual interest in a new contract.
And despite Roberts' injury tag, he actually strung together a nice sample size of health during the second half of the 2013 season. Appearing in the season's first three games and injuring himself in the third contest, he returned toward the beginning of the season's second half, playing in 74 games from that point on.
In 2013, Roberts hit .249 with just a .312 OBP, but did hit eight homers and drive in 39 runs while spending the majority of his time at the bottom of the order. Roberts still has some pop in his bat, and if utilized correctly at the bottom of the order, could be a nice veteran weapon to fill out the lineup.
Roberts has spent the majority of his career as a leadoff hitter, though, and since the O's lack a true leadoff option, Roberts would also be a possibility there.
What's more, the O's would love to have some infield depth since third baseman Manny Machado likely will miss the beginning of the season after having knee surgery. Whoever leaves spring training as the utility man will likely be the starting third baseman until Machado is ready to go.
So for instance, should Ryan Flaherty break camp with the O's, he'd likely be the third baseman for a little while even though the club would rather utilize him at second base. But while he's stuck at the hot corner, Roberts would be the starting second baseman, and when Machado comes back, Flaherty and Roberts would share second base duties with Roberts getting regular rest and time at the DH position (only if the O's don't add a full-time DH).
Roberts brings quality depth and leadership to any team he signs with, and the O's want it to be them. They'll be looking to strike a one-year deal with Roberts with a low base salary and plenty of incentives. Roberts surely would understand that angle and jump at the chance to return to the club he's spent his entire career with.
Both parties want a reunion. Therefore, it would shock me if it didn't happen. But there's a lot to consider, which is why it could end up being a very tough decision.