The first massive choices of the Orioles’ offseason are every week away.
Baltimore had no contract choices to kind out. None of its 5 free brokers had been going to obtain the $20.325 million qualifying provide. The membership has hardly any prime prospects who should be shielded from the Rule 5 draft. So, the arbitration tender deadline subsequent Friday marks the primary important offseason benchmark for the Orioles’ roster.
Here’s what you could know.
What is arbitration?
Arbitration is a system that gives pay raises to gamers who’ve established themselves as massive leaguers however haven’t but spent sufficient time within the majors to grow to be free brokers.
Players who’ve a minimum of three years of MLB service time however fewer than the six essential to grow to be a free agent are eligible, so long as they don’t have already got a set wage by means of a assured contract. A 12 months of service time is equal to 172 regular-season days spent on the key league roster or injured listing. A participant can earn no multiple 12 months of service time in a given season, even when they’re energetic for greater than 172 days.
A portion of gamers with between two and three years are additionally eligible, with the highest 22% of that group by service time receiving “Super Two” standing. These gamers don’t grow to be free brokers any sooner, however they obtain 4 years of arbitration eligibility as an alternative of the standard three, which ends up in greater profession earnings earlier than they attain free company.
How does the method work?
Before Friday’s deadline, groups will resolve whether or not to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible gamers. Any gamers who’re non-tendered grow to be free brokers. Players are usually non-tendered as a result of the wage they’d possible obtain by means of arbitration exceeds the wage the membership is prepared to pay them, and the perimeters weren’t in a position to agree on a decrease determine forward of the deadline.
Teams and tendered gamers can proceed negotiating contract phrases after the preliminary deadline. If they haven’t come to an settlement by Jan. 12, the perimeters will then every recommend a possible 2024 wage for that participant.
If the crew and the participant stay unable to comply with phrases, a panel of arbitrators will choose both the crew’s or the participant’s advised wage — and no different attainable worth — after a listening to, which can happen in late January or early February.
Which Orioles are arbitration-eligible?
Depending on the Super Two service time cutoff, the Orioles could have 14 to 17 gamers who’re eligible for arbitration. It’s a tally government vice chairman and basic supervisor Mike Elias known as “an earmark of having a good roster these days” on the finish of the season.
Outfielder Anthony Santander and left-handers John Means and Danny Coulombe are of their ultimate 12 months of eligibility earlier than turning into free brokers; Santander is 10 days shy of already having six years of service time. Outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays, first baseman Ryan O’Hearn, shortstop Jorge Mateo and reliever Dillon Tate have between 4 and 5 years of service time.
First baseman Ryan Mountcastle, infielder Ramón Urías, right-hander Jacob Webb, and left-handers Cionel Pérez, Cole Irvin and Keegan Akin all reached three years of service time in 2023 and are arbitration-eligible for the primary time. Possibly becoming a member of them are outfielder Ryan McKenna and right-handers Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer, who’ve greater than two years of service however fewer than three. Last offseason’s cutoff of two years and 128 days would go away solely Wells eligible, however the threshold varies from 12 months to 12 months.
How a lot will they earn?
If the 14 Orioles assured to be eligible are all tendered contracts, they’d obtain about $50 million collectively, based mostly on projections from MLB Trade Rumors, Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Spotrac. That whole represents nearly double what that group earned in 2023.
About 1 / 4 of that $50 million is anticipated to go to Santander, a switch-hitter who led Baltimore in residence runs every of the previous two seasons. The three forecasts’ common projection for Santander’s 2024 wage is $12.8 million; he earned $7.4 million in 2023.
Mullins ($6.2 million), Hays ($5.8 million) and Means ($5.6 million) have the subsequent highest common projections. Mountcastle is projected for the most important wage of Baltimore’s first-time recipients at $3.9 million, a big increase after he made about $740,000 in 2023.
Excluding the three potential Super Two gamers, the remaining members of what would at present be the Orioles’ season-opening roster are projected to make about $10 million mixed in 2024, in line with Spotrac. That whole will possible improve ought to Baltimore make trades and free agent signings.
Who may get non-tendered?
Some of those choices may come all the way down to subsequent week’s deadline, with the likelihood some gamers comply with lesser offers beforehand to keep away from being non-tendered. The majority of the Orioles’ eligible gamers can be tendered contracts, although there are a handful of selections to be made.
It’s tough to think about Baltimore parting with Santander on this vogue, although it’s price noting his projected wage can be the most important Elias has given out in his 5 years working the membership.
Mateo and Urías are each projected to make between $2 million and $3 million in 2024. Both are right-handed-hitting infielders who ended this season in part-time roles, with the pair successfully splitting a platoon. Each excelled defensively in 2022 however took a step again in 2023, whereas their offensive contributions had been under common. With prime general prospect Jackson Holliday set to hitch Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg within the majors — and prospects Joey Ortiz, Coby Mayo and Connor Norby additionally within the combine for big-league time sooner or later subsequent season — it’s attainable there isn’t room for Mateo, Urías or each.
Tate and Akin every ended the season on the 60-day injured listing however have performed key roles in Baltimore’s bullpen in recent times. Tate, who missed all of 2023 with an elbow harm, led the Orioles in video games pitched in each 2021 and 2022. He made $1.5 million in 2023 and certain would obtain an identical determine for subsequent season. Akin had a 3.20 ERA in 2022 and a 3.66 mark by means of his first 20 appearances of 2023, then gave up 13 runs whereas recording 12 outs in his ultimate 4 outings earlier than occurring the IL with a decrease again harm. At $850,000, Akin has the bottom common projected wage of Baltimore’s arbitration-eligible gamers.
If McKenna is a Super Two, he could possibly be in danger, although he’s not projected to make a lot above the league minimal. With Aaron Hicks coming into free company, the Orioles have a necessity for a right-handed hitter who can play all three outfield spots, a mildew McKenna matches. But he’s primarily been an up-and-down defensive alternative in his profession, and he’s out of minor league choices, which means the crew must expose him to waivers to ship him to Triple-A. If the Orioles don’t assume they’ll have area for him come opening day, this could be a prudent transfer to make now.