Which way will Orioles bend on Beckham? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Which way will Orioles bend on Beckham?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Soon after they take over, the new Orioles management team will have to make a decision on the future of Tim Beckham, and their decision will have far-reaching effects on the composition of the 2019 roster.

Conventional wisdom has been that Beckham would be non-tendered, and the Orioles have until Nov. 30 to offer him and their five other arbitration-eligible players a contract for next season.

It’s a sure thing that Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens will be tendered. It’s likely that Jonathan Villar, who MLBTraderumors.com predicts will fetch a $4.4 million salary next season, will return.

The decisions on catcher Caleb Joseph, who’s in line for a $1.7 million contract and utilityman Jace Peterson, who could make $1.3 million, are relatively easy. If they aren’t tendered, find someone else who does the same thing.

Beckham is different. Like Villar, this is his second year of eligibility for arbitration, and he could get bumped up to an estimated $4.3 million.

But it’s clear that Villar, who was acquired at the non-waiver trade deadline from Milwaukee in the Jonathan Schoop deal, brings more to the table than Beckham.

In one-third of a season, 54 games, Villar hit eight home runs and drove in 24 runs, batting .258 with a .338 on-base percentage. Villar stole 21 bases in 24 attempts. If you project that to a full season, that’s 63 steals, which would be a club record.

Although Villar was sometimes reckless on the bases, he provided speed and energy, two qualities the Orioles badly needed in 2018.

Villar played second base twice as often as he played shortstop (36 games to 18), and his Defensive Wins Above Replacement was .2, slightly ahead of Beckham’s 0.

When Beckham came to the Orioles a year before Villar, he had one of the best months in club history. In August 2017, Beckham equaled a club record with 50 hits, and batted .394. He also had six home runs and 19 RBIs.

That month kept the Orioles on the edge of contention for a wild-card spot. But in September Beckham fell back to a .180 average and the team lost 19 of its final 23 games.

Beckham had been obtained from Tampa Bay to be J.J. Hardy’s replacement at shortstop, but when Hardy wasn’t retained, Manny Machado decided he wanted to play short and Beckham was moved to third base, an unfamiliar position.

By all accounts a hard worker and good teammate, Beckham prepared diligently with Machado, Schoop and third base coach Bobby Dickerson in spring training, but had just a .179 average in late April when he needed core muscle surgery.

Beckham was out for more than two months. When he returned in late June, he knew he’d be moving back to shortstop when Machado was traded.

He never got hot, and ended the season with a .230 average in 96 games.

Unlike Villar, Beckham isn’t a basestealer and has stolen just twice in five attempts since joining the Orioles. He does have some power, hitting 22 home runs in 2017 and 12 this past season.

Beckham’s fielding can be erratic. In a 14-game stretch in July, he committed nine of his 19 errors.

If the Orioles think Villar is better at short than at second, they can try to trade Beckham ahead of the deadline for non-tendering. But if they think Villar is better at second, they can keep Beckham at short.

Beckham has two more seasons under club control, and there’s no one in the minor leagues who’s a contender to play shortstop for the Orioles in 2019.

Cadyn Grenier, the 37th overall pick in June’s first-year player draft, struggled offensively at Low-A Delmarva, batting .216, and he probably needs a year or two more in the minors.

The Orioles have some players they can look at for middle infield spots: Peterson, Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson, but none currently projects as a major league regular.

If the Orioles keep Beckham, that will affect the chances of Peterson, Valera and Wilkerson staying. If they decide that 13 pitchers is the way to go, that leaves just three bench spots, one for a backup catcher and two more players.

Those extra two players will have to be multi-taskers like Peterson and Wilkerson.

Former manager Buck Showalter toyed with the idea of Beckham as a super-utility player, but while he’s played second and third, he’s never played the outfield.

If Villar and Beckham are both offered contracts, it could have an effect on whether an extra outfielder could be kept. If Beckham is cut loose, the Orioles will have to replace him. In the new tight money era, it’s unlikely they’ll pay much more than the estimated $4.3 million they’d have to pay him to find another middle infielder.

Victor Victor Update

The Miami Marlins continued to add to their war chest in an attempt to sign Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa. The Marlins obtained an additional $500,000 in international signing bonus money from the Houston Astros in return for two minor leaguers.

Miami now has slightly more international signing bonus money than the Orioles, $6,569,500 to $6,563,500.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 17, 2018 at 7:43 am

    I know I’m off topic with this one … but Manny Machado is still a dope.

    As far as Becham goes, if it’s going to take 4+ million to sign this guy, me thinks it’s time to let him go. Why pay that kind of money for a punch and judy hitter that can’t field ground balls or throw straight? I don’t think you’ll get much in way of a trade for any player(s) or prospects. Maybe they can find someone willilng to throw in some international signing bonus money?

    • SpinMaster

      October 17, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Boog: Trading Beckham for International signing bonus money is exactly what the O’s should do.

  2. Sisco Kid

    October 17, 2018 at 9:12 am

    I agree with Boog, Machado is a dope.
    I think we can find a free agent veteran middle infielder for less money per year than $4.3 mil. Neil Walker shouldn’t be too expensive, nor should Asdrubal Cabrera. Both guys could build up value and be sold off if they’re having solid years. It may also not be a terrible idea (don’t jump down my throat for this) to bring good ol’ Ryan “Flash” Flaherty back. Yeah he’s not very good, but he’s popular with the guys and he could fall into a mentor role similar to a coach, which seems to be what he wants. Just a thought.

    • SpinMaster

      October 17, 2018 at 10:09 am

      Sisco & Boog: who will be more of a dope, Manny or any team willing to fork out $300 million for his services.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 10:25 am

      Sisco, both Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera actually had lower WARs than Beckham this year. Cabrera’s WAR number was much better with the Mets than the Phillies. Cabrera played poorly for a Phillies team that was fading, and he made more than $8 million last season. They’ll certainly look around.

      You’ll find no bigger Flash fan than I am, but Steve Wilkerson and Jace Peterson provide similar skills, and yes, he’s very interested in a coaching or managing career.

  3. deqalt

    October 17, 2018 at 9:22 am

    The Orioles need to get back to defensive excellence. Tim B. will not fit that mold as a starter or super utility.

    To the above comments about Manny. He idolized ARod I think I remember a similar “dope” move in trying to knock ball out while running in playoffs

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 10:27 am

      Spin, Sisco, deqalt and Boog. I’m planning to address Machado tomorrow morning. I was too tired when the game ended at 2:25 this morning to write cogently.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

        Rich … that was my point exactly a few weeks ago regarding MLB playing games into tomorrow and losing a huge block of future fans by doing so. Play DAYTIME baseball for crying out loud and let ALL of America watch this beautiful game. Let California tumble into the sea! (with apologies to Steely Dan)

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      Boog, I am advantaged in that I can watch postseason games no matter when they are played. But, the ratings for day games, as much as you and I might like them, would be lower.

      NBA Finals games start after nine, and young people watch them in droves.

      I think the slow pace of the games is a bigger problem than the late starting times, which aren’t that late on the West Coast.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        October 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm

        I certainly understand that the ratings would be lower with the day games, however in the long run, I feel ratings will be hurting even more in the future. MLB has already partially if not more than partially lost a generation of American boys to soccer, basketball & quidditch with the short sighted strategy. How many teens follow the game as compared to 20/40 years ago? I know I didn’t let my boys stay up until the wee hours to watch the Series in the early 2000’s.

        The league depends on us old fogies to support itself now .. the kids could care less. And why is that?

        What time of day was it when Brooks snared a drive off Johnny Bench in 1970? I’m not sure of the exact time of daty .. but I can tell you it was still daylight out and nobodywas worried about Budweiser sales or ratings. And this is the exact reason 60 year old men still watch baseball while the kids of today and tomorrow tune into soccer, lacrosse and … gag .. quiddtich. MLB needs to cultivate the game with youngsters if it wants to protect it’s future, and that ain’t happening at 2:35 AM. They need to sacrifice a few $ now, to make sure their payday continues.

        End of Rant

        • Jbigle1

          October 18, 2018 at 1:29 am

          Baseball just isn’t a flashy sport. You watch lacrosse, football, basketball and there’s constantly action going on. This generation has a short attention span and a 4 hour game does not hold that. I don’t think a game at 3 o’clock changes much of that.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            October 18, 2018 at 6:44 am

            This is all true …but if you want DRAMA …. baseball is your game. I think millions more watching without question, would make a difference. The bigger problem is that the kids aren’t playing the game.

    • Raymo

      October 17, 2018 at 10:33 pm

      Loved the Steely Dan reference Boog.

  4. VICTORTEE

    October 17, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Maybe the O’s can hire Dan to be a consultant and find them a half dozen Rule 5 guys to fill up the roster. And they can find a bunch of AAAA guys.

    I can accept a rebuild if REAL PROSPECTS are playing. But since the O’s have almost no top
    prospects, I will have little interest in watching a bunch of never was’s and never will be’s play in
    2019.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 10:28 am

      Victor, your point is well taken, but we have little idea who will be on the field for the Orioles next season much less who will be putting them on the field.

  5. willmiranda

    October 17, 2018 at 10:13 am

    I’m not sure it’s easy to find someone who can do the same as Caleb Joseph has done for the Orioles, but 1.7M may be a lot for intangibles on a team that needs a lot of tangibles. From what Villar has done, I think Beckham is gone at that price. Too bad. He seems like a nice guy, but one of those players who mysteriously fails to put the tools together into a coherent performance. Perhaps he’s someone who could benefit from better anaylytics/self-scouting, but he didn’t bloom in Tampa either.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

      As I’ve written earlier, Will, Caleb Joseph will be another interesting call.

  6. Bancells Moustache

    October 17, 2018 at 11:01 am

    There is zero reason to pay Tim Beckham 4 million dollars. He is a non-contributor on the worst team in franchise history. Put Villar at Short, Wilkerson at 2nd and Nunez at 3rd, with Mountcastle waiting in the wings. Shop Beckham for international bucks, package him with a fringe bush leaguer to sweeten the pot if necessary, if that doesn’t work hand him the walking papers. There is no reason to keep any member of this roster.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm

      Bancells, you’re not holding back. Many thanks.

  7. ZantiGM

    October 17, 2018 at 11:48 am

    I am thinking O’s are going to keep Beckham and not Joseph or Peterson.
    Wright will be traded at winter meetings
    Susac will also be released
    O’s will surprisingly sign 2-3 free agents-RF-SS-LHP(starter) and maybe a closer-Cody Allen?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 1:38 pm

      Phil, I’ll be keeping track of you this offseason.

    • Jbigle1

      October 18, 2018 at 1:48 am

      Only in your wildest dreams. I expect to see some nice reclamation projects on MILB deals. Bring on the Brett Anderson types. I hope we stop being so gunshy on medicals and take a chance on a guy like Garrett Richards. The market value seems to be 2/10 for a pitcher rehabbing TJ. Throw him that much and give him a shot to pitch next year. The kind of arm that could bring something back in a trade. Not to mention it’d be nice to see someone not suck it up for 6 innings.

  8. Orial

    October 17, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    I may be in the minority but I see Beckham as being a keeper for various reasons. He looks like a good/upbeat teammate,he has pop,and the system is not exactly overloaded with immediate talent. BUT the main reason–a new regime with a new approach will be coming in. Maybe they can untap some of his #1 draft pick talent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 17, 2018 at 4:30 pm

      Good points, Orial.

  9. Maka

    October 21, 2018 at 2:31 pm

    I say let him go. We need to get back to a more defensive mindset-especially with young or average pitching. Beckham may pop elsewhere but I doubt it. Tampa bay let him go for a low level prospect so that tells you a lot. The $4.3M is not the issue for me. If he was reliable in the field and an average hitter, he would be worth it. I am sure we can find a more reliable SS this offseason.

    P.S. It drives me crazy when we say let’s trade this guys for prospects. We have employed this strategy for years and I am not sure one of these prospects have panned out. We normally end up with the short end of the stick. At this point, we need hold on to any talent we get our hands on. Even if they will not be around whenever we are competitive again.

  10. Mitz_8

    October 24, 2018 at 1:11 am

    I have nothing against Beckham; I was as excited as everyone else with his excellent performance with the bat in August 2017 and I was as disappointed as anyone else afterwards.

    He is already 28 and he’ll be past his prime by the time the O’s are close to contending in the A.L. East again. That means that he will never be considered as part of the long-term plans of the Birds. I believe the question then becomes whether or not he’d achieve his prime in the next year or two causing contending teams to want to give up their prospects to obtain Beckham’s service. In other words, his value to the O’s will become whether or not he can contribute to the future of the organization by being traded for future prospects. If there’s not much chance that Beckham would turn into a trade value, then he probably should be granted free agency now.

    (Can we sign J.J. to play SS while we rebuild? I would love to have him come back and patrol the SS position for the O’s with his excellent defense even if his batting average hovers around the Mendoza Line. I enjoy watching good defense over good hitting. I know I’m only dreaming, but personally, I’d love to see J.J. play shortstop again for the O’s.)

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