Orioles' addition of Iglesias makes 2020 plans clearer - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles’ addition of Iglesias makes 2020 plans clearer

Jose Iglesias
Photo credit: David Kohl - USA Today Sports

The Orioles’ acquisition of shortstop José Iglesias answered one of the questions going into the 2020 season. With a contract for this coming season of a reported $2.5 million and a  $500,000 buyout or a $3.5 million option for 2021, according to The Athletic, the team is acknowledging that they have no middle infield prospects who are close to being major league ready.

Iglesias’ contract was made official Tuesday afternoon. Right-handed pitcher Eric Hanhold was designated for assignment to make room for Iglesias.

It’s obvious that they’ll start Richie Martin at Triple-A Norfolk. Last year’s Rule 5 shortstop can’t split time with Iglesias, who unlike Jonathan Villar, is not a hybrid second baseman/shortstop.

Villar, whom the Orioles traded to the Miami Marlins early last month, played in all 162 games, but Martin played some short, and Hanser Alberto played at second as well as third.

This year, the Orioles have a few alternatives to pair with Alberto at second and Rio Ruiz at third base There’s Pat Valaika, whom the Orioles claimed on waivers from Colorado, and minor league signee Dilson Herrera.

Alberto, Herrera and Valaika are all right-handed hitters. So is José Rondón, who played one game with the Orioles in 2019 before his outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk. He’s been re-signed to a minor league contract.

There’s always Stevie Wilkerson, a switch-hitter who was an infielder until last season when out of necessity, the team converted him to the outfield. Wilkerson started 80 games in the outfield, 58 of them in center.

But if Austin Hays is the Opening Day centerfielder and Cedric Mullins or Mason Williams is on hand as a spare outfielder, that can free up Wilkerson to return to the infield and serve as a utility player.

Wilkerson started just six games last season at second but would be better off there.

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Iglesias is being paid perhaps a quarter of what Villar could earn in arbitration. MLBTradeRumors. com predicted that Villar’s arbitration number could be as high as $10.4 million.

They’re very different players. While both had career highs in home runs and RBIs last season, Villar’s numbers were far better. He had 24 homers, 73 RBIs, a .792 OPS and 40 steals.

Iglesias had 11 homers, 59 RBIs, a .721 OPS and just six steals. He did have a higher batting average, .288 to Villar’s .274, but his WAR was just 1.5 to Villar’s 4.0.

Iglesias has the edge defensively. He made just nine errors in 144 games while Villar committed 12 in 97 games at shortstop and eight more in 111 games at second.

If the Orioles are to have Iglesias at $6 million for two seasons, it gives their young infielders time to develop.

Cadyn Grenier, a shortstop and second baseman who was the 37th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the choice behind Grayson Rodriguez, hasn’t proven himself offensively.

A teammate of Adley Rutschman at Oregon State, Grenier hit just .208 with a .662 OPS in 24 games at High-A Frederick after his promotion from Low-A Delmarva.

Grenier’s teammate with the Shorebirds, Adam Hall, showed promise in 2019, hitting .298 with a .780 OPS. Both played shortstop and second but probably need two more seasons before they’re ready for the majors.

The Orioles drafted several middle infielders in 2019. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson, their second-round choice, played at Rookie League Gulf Coast, and he’ll probably begin 2020 at Delmarva. Grenier and Hall could begin this season with Frederick.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

 

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 7, 2020 at 8:29 am

    How exciting. The Angelos family has apparently saved around $7 million in this swap of infielders. So this guy can catch ground balls ‘eh? Again .. how exciting.

    • Bancells Moustache

      January 7, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Would you prefer talk of Chris Davis contract and (insert AAAA pitcher nobody has heard of) getting signed to a one year deal?

  2. Orial

    January 7, 2020 at 8:51 am

    The future SS is not Iglesias(“All the girls he loved before”–sorry Boog) ,Hall,Greynier,or Henderson. He’s somewhere sitting in the International draft. Is that stereotyping?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 7, 2020 at 9:03 am

      Nice catch Orial ! Was wondering if anybody would. LOL

    • Jbigle1

      January 7, 2020 at 2:14 pm

      It might be Henderson but he may outgrow the position and slide over to 3B. Adam Hall is a 2B long term. Grenier is a true SS, but he probably won’t hit enough to make it. Richie Martin has as good of odds as he does. But this can really be a 2 year deal for Iglesias. So my best guess is that Elias also feels like we don’t have a long term SS in the org right now—If it’s not Gunnar.

  3. The Nuke

    January 7, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    Five Norfolk middle infielders declared free agency in November: Zachary Vincej (the 3rd acquisition by the new regime), Jace Peterson (the 2nd position player obtained by Elias), Jack Reinheimer (obtained by new regime last January), Chris Bostick (the 1st position player obtained by Elias) and Engelb Vielma (obtained by Duquette early in 2018). Two of the players have been signed by other teams: Peterson by the Brewers and Reinheimer by the Twins. Doesn’t say much about the current regime’s ability to assess position player talent.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 7, 2020 at 8:43 pm

      Gary, the players you mention were all minor league free agents, each with major league experience. None, except Peterson, played for the Orioles last season. They chose free agency, which was their right because they had enough service time to do so. None of them were expected to contend for a major league spot with the Orioles this year.

      Both Peterson and Reinheimer signed minor league contracts, not major league contracts.

      It’s standard for veteran minor leaguers to move from team to team in search of a better opportunity. It’s fairly rare for minor leaguers with major league service time to return year after year to an organization on a minor league contract, though it occasionally happens.

  4. dlgruber1

    January 7, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I’m not sure this acquisition makes the infield clearer. Martin was great down the stretch. If I remember right he hit very well in August and September and is on a par with Iglesias defensively. I was really looking forward to see if he would continue his progress this season. I’m afraid sending him back to Norfolk will not help him. I’d have much preferred they spent the money saved on Villar’s contract for some bullpen help and give Martin the job until he proved he couldn’t handle it.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 8, 2020 at 12:19 am

      The plan is clearer. Martin is probably ticketed for Norfolk. They had no shortstop, and now they do. Putting Martin in Norfolk gives him a better chance of competing for the long-term, dlgruber.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 8, 2020 at 5:28 am

      I really like Martin, and his hitting did improve late in the season. However, due to his dramatic drop in playing time, this improvement was seen in a very limited sample size. Hopefully he tears it up in Norfolk.

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