Radio chatter: Washington's signing of Vance Worley is Orioles' loss - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

Radio chatter: Washington’s signing of Vance Worley is Orioles’ loss

I hosted my second radio show on WOYK 1350 (in York, Pa.) Tuesday night, and, let me tell you, I’m really getting the hang of this broadcasting thing.

OK, not really.

For the second consecutive week, I went nearly 10 minutes longer than scheduled. I think it’s because we’re presenting such interesting content, and not simply because I’m verbose (my wife may argue otherwise).

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You can listen to the whole show here – even the extra innings part — or download it as a podcast from iTunes.

Tuesday’s show featured a chat with my buddy Mel Antonen, a panelist on MASN’s Mid-Atlantic Sports Report, a Sirius/XM Radio host and a long-time baseball writer.

Mel and I knocked around several topics Tuesday. But the one that intrigued me the most was his take on the Washington Nationals signing of long reliever Vance Worley. He thinks the Orioles made a mistake not retaining Worley. And I agree – especially at the modest price tag.

Worley, 29, is not one of those dominating big-league pitchers who is going to carry you through the World Series. But he can serve an important role during a long season – particularly for an Orioles’ staff that is so fluid.

Last season, Worley appeared in 35 games, starting four and finishing 13. He had a 3.53 ERA in 86 2/3 innings. “The Vanimal” always wanted the ball, never shying away from any situation. Eight times he pitched three or more innings in relief, allowing the bullpen to live another day.

Long reliever may be the most overlooked spot in baseball – rivaling situational lefty, utility infielder and backup catcher – but it can be invaluable. Given the way the Orioles use their bullpen, and the 2016 rotation’s difficulty to pitch deep into games, Worley earned his $2.6 million last year. He would have made more than $3 million in 2017, so the Orioles decided not to tender him a contract and, instead, acquired Logan Verrett, a younger and cheaper righty who has some experience in long relief.

When a team expects to shatter its franchise record for payroll, it faces tough secondary choices, and so Worley ended up as a salary casualty. It happens.

In fact, it happened last year when the Orioles decided not to pay Miguel Gonzalez his full salary and cut him in March. Gonzalez had a solid season with the Chicago White Sox and the Orioles spent much of last year looking for a fifth starter.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about Worley’s departure, however, is that it didn’t take much for the Nationals to land him. He reportedly signed a minor-league deal that will pay him $1 million if he makes the club and includes $1.65 million in potential incentives. So, if everything goes right for Worley, he’ll make about what he did in 2016.

It makes you wonder why the Orioles couldn’t have topped that in guaranteed salary. The most likely answer is the club likes the flexibility it has with players such as Verrett and Tyler Wilson, who can be moved up and down from Triple-A to the majors without being exposed to waivers.

I get roster flexibility. I get the desire to keep payroll down by spending less for potentially the same production. But I also believe in track records and guys who have done a specific – and difficult — job effectively in the recent past.

I think, given the eventual financial terms, not retaining Worley was a mistake. Antonen believes the same thing. We, of course, have been wrong before. At least you won’t have to switch the TV channel around here in 2017 to see which team made the right call.

(Programming note: If you want to hear more of Antonen and me trading barbs and baseball theories, then come join us, and special guest Mike Bordick, former Oriole and current MASN broadcaster, next Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. for a free hot stove talk at Zion Lutheran Church on Brandywine Lane in York, Pa. I’ll have more details later today. But since Mel and I talked Tuesday, I didn’t want this opportunity to pass without mentioning the event now.)

 

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