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The Orioles don’t take their cues from the Houston Astros, we all know that.
The 2017 World Champion Astros built their current roster, in part, by being terrible for a period of six years or so, including three straight seasons of 100 losses or more from 2011 to 2013.
The Astros were bad, yet drafted pretty well during that time, adding first rounders (or supplemental first-rounders) George Springer, Lance McCullers, Carlos Correa, Derek Fisher and Alex Bregman, among others, since 2011.
In contrast, the Orioles have had their share of rough seasons – 14 consecutive from 1998 to 2011, but nothing like 100 losses in consecutive seasons. The Orioles have dropped 100 games or more only twice in their history: 1954 and 1988.
The Astros also have been cutting edge in using advanced metrics to build a team and have been creative with their payroll and pre-arbitration players as well – sometimes it has worked and sometimes it hasn’t.
They did something Monday that the Orioles should attempt to duplicate – and likely won’t.
The Astros announced that they agreed to a two-year deal with outfielder and World Series MVP George Springer, which will buy out two of his remaining three years of arbitration. The sides were set to go to a hearing this month with Springer asking for $10.5 million and the Astros countering with $8.5 million.
According to multiple reports, Springer, 28, will get $24 million for the two years, so more than he was angling for this year, but less than what he might have made if he had a big 2018.
Are you listening, Orioles?
Second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the club’s Most Valuable Oriole in 2017, is set to go to an arbitration hearing Thursday in which he is asking for $9 million and the Orioles are countering with $7.5 million.
That’s a sizable enough gap, but the Orioles have met midpoint in similar cases in the past. So, it’s possible they don’t take one of their best players to a hearing.
But why not go a little further and get a two-year deal done before Thursday?
Obviously, the ideal situation would be agreeing to a long-term contract with the 26-year-old – something that should be a given considering what is happening now with Schoop’s pending free agent buddy Manny Machado — but that doesn’t seem to be in the immediate cards.
The next best thing would be to agree to a two-year deal now while negotiating an arbitration settlement; it wouldn’t be much more complicated than the inevitable one-year pact that will be determined Thursday. It shows some forward thinking by the Orioles, it allows Schoop to not worry about his salary for the next two years and maybe, just maybe, creates some goodwill for a longer-term deal. Remember, Schoop is under team control through 2019, so it’s not like he’s giving up much if he agrees to two years now.
After the Fanfest debacle, both sides could use some solid public relations. And, although this may not matter, Springer is also with The Legacy Agency, which represents Schoop. And Springer and his agency once had some uncomfortable dustups with the Astros brass involving economic issues, and obviously there are no lingering hard feelings.
Springer has one more year of arbitration remaining after this deal, so that’s a little different than Schoop, who’d be gambling away his final year before free agency. But, again, there’s something to be said about not worrying about performance-based raises.
It also would send a solid message to other younger Orioles such as Kevin Gausman, another Legacy client, that the team is willing to invest, even a little, in their players who haven’t yet approached free agency.
Seems like a near no-brainer to me.
Does Susac’s acquisition change the Sisco equation?
When the Orioles acquired 27-year-old catcher Andrew Susac from the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, the obvious question that arose was, what does this mean for Chance Sisco?
The easy answer is it buys Sisco some time to become the defender the Orioles want him to be before he is in the majors for good.
It doesn’t mean that Sisco, who doesn’t turn 23 until later this month, has no shot of being on the 2018 Opening Day roster. But it does give the Orioles an option if Sisco is not deemed ready.
Sisco, who didn’t catch regularly until his senior year in high school, made strides defensively in 2017, but he’s still learning the intricacies of the position. The question the Orioles must answer is whether he’d be better served continuing his apprenticeship at the big league level with daily mentors Caleb Joseph and coach John Russell.
Or maybe Sisco simply needs to catch every day, and, therefore, should begin the year at Triple-A Norfolk and get a few more months of starting on his resume before being promoted.
Susac, 27, isn’t exactly a grizzled veteran. He’s played in only 100 major league games (274 plate appearances) and has a career .232 average. Like Sisco, however, Susac is a former top prospect – he was ranked first overall in the San Francisco Giants organization by Baseball America in 2015.
There’s upside to Susac and he has a minor-league option remaining. So, if he struggles and Sisco thrives, then Susac becomes the primary catcher at Triple-A.
Before acquiring Susac, the only other option to backup Joseph in 2018, besides Sisco, was Austin Wynns, a 27-year-old defensive specialist who has only played eight games above Double-A, all at Triple-A Norfolk in 2016.
Before last week, I would have said there was a 75 percent chance that Sisco makes the Opening Day roster for the Orioles. Now, I’d say it’s 50-50, depending on what the Orioles see from Sisco defensively this spring.
Radio musings — Sedlock’s plunge off Dean’s Dozen
My weekly, “Baltimore Baseball Show,” on WOYK 1350 on Monday night featured a talk with our Dean Jones Jr., about his “Dean’s Dozen” Orioles prospect list.
What struck me the most about his Top 12 is that right-hander Cody Sedlock completely dropped off the list.
In 2017, Jones had Sedlock, the organization’s top pick (27th overall) in 2017 from the University of Illinois, ranked fifth.
Now Sedlock’s not in the Top 12. And that’s not encouraging – but it is understandable. Sedlock, who jumped over Low-A Delmarva, pitched to a 5.90 ERA in 20 starts at High-A Frederick and also was limited by injury last season.
As Jones points out, players have bad years, and the hope is Sedlock just struggled in his first full season as a pro and will be able to bounce back now that he better understands what is expected. The organization still has high hopes for the 22-year-old, but it looks like he may not advance through the minors as quickly as once anticipated.
Jones said that Sedlock is probably his 12A or 12B prospect, and that he easily could make his way back on the list by the All-Star Break.
If you want to hear the full discussion, check it out below, go to the station’s archive or download it from the BaltimoreBaseball.com section on iTunes.