Orioles, Roberts agree to one-year deal

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Second baseman Brian Roberts and the Baltimore Orioles avoided arbitration by agreeing to terms Thursday on a one-year contract worth just over $3 million.

Roberts asked for $3.6 million, and the Orioles countered with an offer of $2.4 million. He got $3,075,000, and his contract for 2006 will give him an additional $25,000 for 600 plate appearances.

Roberts enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2005, reaching career highs in batting average (.314), home runs (18) and RBI (73). He finished tied for second in the AL with 45 doubles, tied for seventh with 27 steals and was eighth in the league with a .347 on-base percentage.

He was named to the All-Star team for the first time and started at second base.

Roberts will miss the first part of spring training while recovering from a dislocated left elbow, the result of a collision at first base with Bubba Crosby of the New York Yankees last September.

"It's getting better every week, which is all you can ask for
and all you can hope for," he said recently, expressing confidence
that he would be ready to start on opening day.

"You don't have to be ready the first day of spring training,"
he said. "If I can get 40, 50 at-bats during spring training,
that's plenty for me."

After spending much of his career competing with Jerry Hairston for the starting spot at second, Roberts was assured the position when the Orioles dealt Hairston and two minor leaguers to the Chicago Cubs for Sammy Sosa before the 2005 season.

Roberts got off to a torrid start, earning AL player of the
month honors in April after amassing a .726 slugging percentage,
scoring 21 runs and batting .379.