After Andy MacPhail all but made it known that Roberts was available at a price -- young prospects -- that no one met, both the Orioles and the second baseman knew he was better off staying in Charm City and being a critical piece in making the franchise into a winner.
I assumed -- as did many -- thought that Roberts would wind up in a another uniform (due to all the losing and umpteen personnel changes) even before he came up for free agency, he really must have had a change in heart. One could assume -- despite the kind words about the city and his teammates -- he wanted out big time, but he put up a nice public face and sat down long enough to honestly think, "is the grass greener on the other side?"
After seeing what has happened to his former mates, Bedard and Tejada, the economy, along the market for second basemen -- no. Ok, I am just speculating, but I'm sure this might have crossed Roberts' mind.
Here's a great take from the Washington Post's Baseball Insider, and looks at Brian Roberts' deal via a different perspective -- something that is not necessarily reflected in the Baltimore media.
For much of the past two years, Roberts was a constant (and willing) subject of trade rumors, making it clear to friends privately that a trade out of Baltimore couldn't happen soon enough to suit him. Since being called up in 2001, he had played for four managers and five GMs, and had a front-row view of the dysfunction that once gripped the Orioles' franchise.
But things have changed under the Andy MacPhail regime, and Roberts's about-face, from someone praying for a trade out of Baltimore to someone willing to sign back up for another four years, is perhaps the clearest signal yet that the Orioles' new direction is changing the perception of the team, from both inside and outside Camden Yards.
The Washington Post also looks at why the Roberts deal could hamper the Orioles, despite the feel good story it was for the fans. Again, I am not against the deal -- I think considering it doesn't kick in until 2010, Baltimore might have signed him for a year or two too many.
There is no way he could get a deal like this from anyone else, when Adam Dunn -- a perennial 40-home run guy -- Bobby Abreu, or Orlando Hudson -- another upper echelon second baseman -- probably could not do better.
But the deal is a hit with fans who root for the Black and Orange...
As reported here and elsewhere, Roberts's extension will be worth $40 million over four years but there is still no word on whether or not it's a straight $10 million per year or back-loaded.
The difference could be huge as Roberts will be 36 when this contract expires, presumably putting him on the downside of his career, and the Orioles probably don't want to be paying $12 million or more for diminishing returns.
As it stands now though, both sides seem pretty happy, the Orioles have locked up their nucleus and Roberts no longer has to answer questions about trade rumors...
I'm all for happy endings, but I remember a lot of fans shared the same feelings for Melvin Mora with quotes like "pay the man"; however, until he heated after June of '08, most wanted him put on a gurney, traded, or plain released.
Obviously, none of us wants that same story for Roberts -- a good guy who does a ton of community work -- however, if he doesn't age well, or his numbers takes a dive, let's hope the sentiment doesn't turn on him.
That's the risk you take when you pay someone who will be on the wrong side of 30 in a few years.