Orioles cut injury-riddled Gibbons, eat $11.9 million of his contract
By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP)—Jay Gibbons was released Sunday by the Baltimore Orioles, who lost patience waiting for the oft-injured outfielder to regain the form that enabled him to hit 26 home runs in 2005.
Gibbons batted .189 with no homers and four RBIs in 16 games this spring training after playing in only 84 games last season. Baltimore owes him $11.9 million for the next two seasons as part of a $21.1 million, four-year contract he agreed to in January 2006.
The 31-year-old Gibbons was suspended for 15 days on Dec. 6 by commissioner Bud Selig following a media report that he received a shipment of the human growth hormone after January 2005, when it was banned by baseball. Kansas City outfielder Jose Guillen also was suspended for 15 days.
On Friday, the commissioner’s office and players’ players association put the penalties on hold for 10 days to allow for further negotiations over their drug agreement. If a deal is struck, the suspensions likely would be dropped.
That, however, appeared to have nothing to do with the Orioles’ decision to cut Gibbons. The team didn’t see him getting much time as a reserve outfielder and left-handed designated hitter, and keeping the more versatile Scott Moore as a utility player made far more sense.
“The decision was essentially down to two players, and we made a baseball decision,” said club president Andy MacPhail, who delivered the news to Gibbons.
“We laid it out pretty clearly,” MacPhail said. “For you to be a productive player you need to play, and that opportunity just doesn’t exist here absent some horrific injury. His words were, ‘I agree completely.”’
Gibbons also did not fit into MacPhail’s decision to rebuild the team with youth.
“We just need to move forward … along the path we’ve decided we need to take,” MacPhail said. “I’m convinced that it’s the right thing for us to do.”
MacPhail, however, did not make the decision without first discussing it with owner Peter Angelos.
“I gave him the ramifications and what my thinking was. I hadn’t really reached any conclusions myself; I was really wrestling with this one,” MacPhail said. “His advice was, ‘You gotta do what you gotta do.’ Those were the last words he left me with, and I took the position that this is what we had to do.”
Gibbons is owed $5.7 million this year from the Orioles and $6.2 million for 2009.
Selected from the Toronto Blue Jays in the winter-meeting draft on Dec. 11, 2000, Gibbons hit .260 with 121 home runs and 405 RBIs in 779 games over seven seasons for the Orioles.
He batted .230 with six homers and 28 RBIs last season before surgery on his left shoulder on Aug. 14. It was the fourth time in seven seasons that injuries prevented him from appearing in 100 games.
Gibbons served as an extra outfielder and left-handed designated hitter this spring. When it came time for manager Dave Trembley to finalize the 25-man roster, there was simply no reason to make Gibbons a part of it.
“I was not going to be able to find playing time for Jay Gibbons, the roster being what it (is) right here, right now,” Trembley said. “He agreed with that.”
Gibbons was not available for comment. A call to his cell phone was not immediately returned.