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02/19/09 1:41 AM EST

Extension for Roberts appears likely

Second baseman, Orioles nearing four-year, $40M deal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Multiple news outlets are reporting that the Orioles are closing in on a four-year contract extension worth $40 million for second baseman Brian Roberts, a deal that could be completed as early as Friday.

If the deal comes together, it would mark the second such extension for a Baltimore regular this winter. Right fielder Nick Markakis signed a six-year contract worth $66 million, delaying his first shot at free agency by three years.

Roberts, who will undergo a physical examination on Thursday as part and parcel of reporting to Spring Training, is the second-longest-serving member of the Orioles. He has been named to the American League All-Star team twice in the last four seasons. The switch-hitter 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 past six seasons.

Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, discussed the Roberts negotiations on Tuesday.

"We're still talking," he said. "I think both sides are making progress and closing the gap."

MacPhail also indicated that both sides preferred to reach a deal as soon as possible. Roberts, meanwhile, deferred comment until Thursday and now may delay even further, pending a team announcement.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.