Roberts says deal with O's nearly done
Baltimore hasn't announced four-year, $40 million extension
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The ink isn't dry, but the deal appears to be done.
Second baseman Brian Roberts addressed the media regarding his impending four-year contract extension on Thursday, a four-year deal that will take him through the 2013 season. Roberts said that the process isn't completely finished on his $40 million extension, but he expressed relief that the negotiations are behind him.
"Obviously, it's fairly close to being done," Roberts said Thursday morning. "I think we're all excited about the possibility that it is [done]. It's been a long process, but hopefully in the end it works out and both sides are happy."
That potential deal will end two years of trade speculation surrounding Roberts, who last signed a two-year extension right before the 2007 season. And it will ensure continuity for the Orioles. Roberts, the second-longest serving member of the team, has been a starter for several seasons and has served as Baltimore's leadoff hitter.
"We're getting toward the pending physical stage," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "I haven't gotten any medical word yet on that."
Roberts still has to undergo a routine physical examination on Thursday, and the Orioles will likely announce the contract extension at a news conference on Friday. But the switch-hitter said he was happy to have it behind him and thrilled at the prospect of potentially spending his entire career with the same franchise.
"Another way to put it is you can't worry about your contract," the two-time All-Star said before Baltimore's first full-squad workout. "If something hadn't worked out, I still would've gone out, played and not worried about it. Everything would've taken care of itself at the right time. But given the circumstances, if it does work out the way we want it, it's a big relief for myself and my family. It's something we've put a lot of work, a lot of thought and a lot of effort into. Hopefully on both sides, everyone thinks this is the best for the organization, for myself and my family."
The timing, too, was important for Roberts, who didn't want to spend all spring negotiating a contract. And given the financial market, he didn't necessarily want to play out his deal and head to the open market, either. Now, Roberts will have a partial no-trade clause and the security to know where he'll be playing for the next few years.
"That was our goal from the outset, starting in October -- to be patient, to give us time to get what we wanted to get done and to have it done at a certain point," Roberts said. "I don't think it would've done either side much good to continue this process any farther than we had to. I went through it last spring and I it wasn't fun for either side."
Roberts has batted .285 or better in each of the past four years and has been in the league's top 10 in stolen bases in each of the previous six seasons. The Orioles have had 11 consecutive losing seasons, though, and Roberts said that he wanted to see the franchise begin to turn around before he made a long-term commitment to stay in Baltimore.
That process apparently began with the hiring of MacPhail, and was enhanced by the twin trades of Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada. Then Roberts watched as the Orioles tweaked the roster at the margins this winter and extended right fielder Nick Markakis for six years and $66 million.
"I don't think I would've made the commitment to even begin negotiations if I didn't think that at some point in this process of the next four or five years that we'd have another chance to win," said Roberts of the team's transformation. "I hope people interpret it as the fact that we are going in the right direction. We're putting faith in the people in charge that we can get to that point. It's not going to be easy, especially in our division. But I think Tampa Bay and some other teams have proven that you can do it. It just takes the right pieces at the right time."
Perhaps no aspect of the team displays that better than two pieces MacPhail acquired this winter. The Orioles got Felix Pie and Rich Hill from the Cubs -- two potential cogs from a rumored Roberts deal of the past -- in exchange for Garrett Olson and a player to be named later. And best of all, they kept Roberts to play along with them.
That fact wasn't lost on Roberts, who spent last spring hearing his name in incessant trade rumors.
"I probably wouldn't have thought I'd be here at this point doing this, but God has a plan," Roberts said of that development. "I had no idea what it was then, but it's certainly a lot more clear now than it was then. ... You go through times in your life when there is an unknown. Everybody goes through that. You hopefully learn from that and go through new experiences. You tried to handle it the best way you can when you've never been through it. A year later, here we are."
"I'm glad I don't have to talk about whether he's going to get traded," added Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "This whole offseason, I tried to tell everybody, 'I'm penciling him in. He's the second baseman and the leadoff hitter.' This just eases his mind [and] allows us all to move on to something else."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.