Answering your Orioles questions - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Answering your Orioles questions

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

Thanks to everyone who submitted a question for this month’s mailbag. I’ll have another right before the start of spring training.

Some questions have been edited for clarity and brevity.

Question: If Chris Davis performs poorly during spring training, do you think they will let him go and just eat his contract?-Kay Hoffman from Facebook

Answer: Kay was one of many readers with similar questions about Davis. Beginning the 2020 season, Davis is owed $93 million on his seven-year, $161 million contract. But the dynamic of the contract changes during the season.

Davis will be paid $17 million for each of the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons. He has deferred $6 million in each of the seven seasons, and according to Cot’s Contracts, he will be paid $3.5 million annually from 2023-2032 and $1.4 million from 2033-2037.

In July, the Orioles will owe Davis more in deferred money than remaining salary, and that might change the Orioles’ thinking about his future.

If Davis continues to struggle at the plate in spring training and the early part of the season and Ryan Mountcastle is deemed ready to play in the majors sometime during the first half of the season, that might also encourage them to make a move with Davis.

Q-I can be accused as an eternal optimist, but I feel that this year’s acquisitions as far as in the field are a step above last year.

With the outfield and middle infield shored up, where do you think Elias focuses his efforts next?-Cedar

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A-I think the obvious answer is starting pitching, Cedar. The Orioles still need more accomplished pitchers for their rotation, and I think general manager Mike Elias will look to add to that list between now and when spring training begins on February 11. I’m sure he’ll also be looking to add during the early part of camp, too.

There are still some recognizable names on the market, including Andrew Cashner, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a reunion.

Q-When are the Orioles going to be sold?-Salvatore V Citrano from Facebook.

A-I’m not privy to the inner workings of the Orioles’ ownership, but my guess is no time soon. The issues over MASN and the Nationals may be nearing their end, but until that matter is resolved, there’s no way the club could be sold because there’s no way to accurately measure the team’s worth.

And, more importantly, I think John and Louis Angelos are lifetime Baltimoreans who want to keep the team and watch it recapture its glory.

The Angelos family wouldn’t have hired Elias and allowed him free rein on changes in the front office, scouting and minor league departments if they were not planning to keep the team.

The team’s “Kids Cheer Free” program is an innovative approach to try to grow young baseball fans. Spending that much effort on this program is another example of why a team sale is unlikely.

Q-Would you say that there was a chance that Fredi Gonzalez is a manager in waiting?-Stephen Johnson on Facebook

A-Fredi Gonzalez was recently hired as a coach on manager Brandon Hyde’s staff for 2020. Gonzalez has 10 seasons of managerial experience with the Marlins and Braves, the only member of Hyde’s staff with big league managerial experience.

I think Gonzalez’s hiring is a recognition that Hyde could use an experienced manager to help him before and during games.

Things in baseball can change quickly, as we saw with the Astros and Red Sox, but I’m pretty confident that Hyde will be the Orioles’ manager for the foreseeable future.

Q-Any chance this team actually improves their win total by actually losing less than 100 games despite trading Villar? I know Iglesias has always been a great defensive player but not offensive. Will his defensive value help the pitching staff enough so they improve their win total?-Blake Robinson on Facebook

A-Sure, there’s a chance that the Orioles lose fewer than 100 games if some of their young players develop and their starting pitching is better than last year.

Shortstop José Iglesias should help, but don’t expect massive improvement from the team in 2020. Even if they lose “only” 98 games, that’s still a poor record. You shouldn’t get hung up on the won/loss record. That’s for 2021 and beyond.

Q-How long will fans be happy watching minor league baseball at Camden Yards?-Jeff Dillon on Facebook

A-Fans aren’t happy with losing baseball, Jeff. Orioles attendance has dropped from 2.028 million in 2017 to 1.307 million in 2019, a loss of 720,000.

I would say that’s a good indicator that fans are dissatisfied with the product on the field.

Q When will this team realize that we have to have a core of players to “rebuild” around? Anyone of significant talent seems to be on the trading block for picks and prospects that may never end up making it to the MLB level. How long ago was the Machado trade and when are any of those picks/prospects gonna play for the O’s?-David Palombi on Facebook

A-The rebuild is finding players who can play. While 2019 was painful and challenging, and 2020 could be nearly as difficult, the Orioles are using the process to find players such as Anthony Santander, who wasn’t a proven major league player, and Hunter Harvey, who wasn’t considered a reliever until last June.

The Machado trade was in July 2018. One of the five players acquired for him, Breyvic Valera, played for the Orioles shortly after the trade and has since moved on.

Dean Kremer, a starting pitcher acquired in the deal, has pitched well in Bowie and conceivably could pitch for the Orioles later this season. Another pitcher, Zach Pop, a highly thought of reliever, underwent Tommy John surgery in May. The Orioles are hoping Pop will have a solid 2020.

Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, the centerpiece of the trade, probably will start the season in Triple-A. Rylan Bannon, an infielder, was the fifth player acquired in the deal, and he played creditably for Norfolk.

It’s still far too early to assess the prospects. Please check back in a year or two.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

39 Comments

39 Comments

  1. Hyp81

    January 16, 2020 at 8:10 am

    It’s amazing how many fans just don’t understand the concept of a top to bottom rebuild. The point of the rebuild is to first rebuild the desolate farm system. You do that by trading anyone in the majors who has any trade value at all. This results in several seasons of poor performance and sacrifice, but gets you back some future prospects and high draft picks. The action for the next two years will be in the minor league teams. I’ll be at Camden Yards a couple times this year, but most of my money will be spent at minor league games the next two seasons, because that’s where we are growing out our major league talent that will form the “core” of the team in 2022.

    • TxBirdFan

      January 16, 2020 at 11:43 am

      With all due respect Hyp81, it’s not that fans don’t understand a rebuild, but rather we think there are other ways to be competitive again without tanking for multiple years. There are different strategies to achieve the same end (see Moneyball!), and those of us who rode along during the O’s glory years don’t like tanking and will always think there are other ways to put a competitive team on the field and make the fans happy. Simple as that.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 16, 2020 at 5:42 pm

        Get ’em Tex! I guess I’m one of the dolts that don’t understand ‘the total rebuild’. Tanking is just way too cerebral for me.

        Frankly it amazes me that so many fans think the only way to build from the bottom up is to lose on purpose.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 16, 2020 at 12:48 pm

      I have a serious question. If Elias is tanking, why does he sign free agents at all? Why does he release/demote players that don’t perform? Dan Straily for example…4.12 ERA the year before signing with the Orioles, and could’ve been a legit contributor. Had almost a 10.00 with us and was cut. Why not keep him out there if the goal was to lose on purpose? Cutting him made us better, no? Signing Iglesias makes us better, so how does that align with tanking. This type of bottom to top rebuild will result in some lean years, but if Elias really wanted us to lose games on purpose, he could put a WAY worse product on the field.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 16, 2020 at 5:39 pm

        WIth all due respect CB … the combination of replacing Villar with Iglesias can hardly be argued as making the team better.

        Sure … once Tank Elias cut Villar and he was no longer on the team, I guess putting Iglesias on the squad could be viewed as an upgrade, but in the bigger picture, they are weaker at the position than they were last year. And yeah I know .. defense is nothing to be sneezed …at especially at shortstop … but there’s a reason Villar makes 3 to 4 times more than Iglesias.

        There’s no question in my mind that winning now has been the furthest thing from Elias mind up to this point.

        • Phil770

          January 16, 2020 at 9:41 pm

          BRR – like your takes, but I would have rather kept Villar only as a 2B; IMO, he is a liability at shortstop. Iglesias replaces Martin. I agree that Alberto is not a better 2B or replacement for Villar, but then Alberto ends up at 3B, which is worse than Villar at SS. I would rather have Mountcastle at 3B, bad defense an all. Given that Villar was unappreciated by Elias, maybe he wanted out of Baltimore. Many more advantages for him in Miami.

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          January 16, 2020 at 10:42 pm

          Mr Boog, how are you determining that the O’s are not going to be better with Iglesias instead of Villar?

          I’m well aware of Villar’s batting numbers, but what about his significantly poor defense?

          Yes, Villar had great numbers at the plate last year, but statistics undeniably prove that he also played a large part in why the O’s allowed the most runs in the MLB. There’s no need to even consider promoting minor league pitchers with someone like Villar playing up the middle, it would be a career crusher.

          Incidentally, if it was just a payroll dump by releasing Villar, and if he is worth the money, how do you explain why no other teams immediately scooped him up and the Os got nothing in return for him?

          Comparing their salaries as a justification for why Villar is better than Iglesias is hardly reasonable. If it wasn’t for arbitration Villar wouldn’t be making nowhere near what he’s getting. Just a few years ago he was only making a half million a year.

          I respect your level of baseball knowledge, but your comment that the O’s are “weaker in that position than they were last year” is utterly ridiculous and not supported by and statistical data.

          Respectfully, Joe

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 17, 2020 at 9:34 am

            I think I addressed the defensive liability that Villar would be at the position..I’m certainly not discounting it. But if defense was a major concern, I’d just as soon kept Richie Martin around with Villar at 2nd base. And yeah, I know Martin was an offensive liability, but he was showing some progress at the plate as the season wore on. Frankly, I like the guy and think he as tremendous potential. But point taken … Iglesias IS a decent player … more of a 2nd stringer in my opinion, but frankly he’s an affordable option. Villar was not affordable. And in 2019 he was making 4.8 million, not a half million. In 2017 it was 2.5 million. Notice the pattern? And as far as comparing salaries not being a reasonable way of comparing talent levels, while it’s not always true (Chris Davis), after the dust settles the better players normally make more money than the lesser talents.

            To answer your question, nobody immediately scooped up Villar because they knew he was going to be dumped anyway. Sure he was traded, and maybe the return was more than 2, 16 year old Dominicans, but really…they got nothing of comparable value in return. And guess what … Villar is making his $8 million+. Lettting Villar was a money dump. T-t-t-t-tank job in it’s purest form.

            All this being said ESJoe … I do respect yours and other opinions, and I certainly can see the reasoning in liking the Iglesias pickup. I’ve said it before, I really believe it’s the 1st move Elias as made with the current rosters benefit being the reason. I like the move. Just would rather have paid Villar.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 16, 2020 at 5:54 pm

      With all due respect BRR, you ignored most of my questions and twisted one of them to fit you own narrative.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 19, 2020 at 3:25 pm

        Sorry CB … didn’t know I was supposed to answer any questions. And I’m not sure which point of yours I twisted.

        Uh yeah, he signed Straily last year as a free agent as a long shot. Mr. Elias has often stated that he’s not willing to rush the pitchers up too quickly, and frankly I agree with him there. Pushing a pitchers arm is risky business. May have had something to do with what happened with Bundy. But if you’re using Straily’s signing as a sign that Elias isn’t a tanker, that’s kind of a reach in my mind.

        Does that answer the question? I’m sure you don’t agree with me, you seldom do, but it’s my honest take. Sorry for ‘twisting’ whatever it was I twisted.

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:03 pm

      He signs lower level FA to make it look like he is trying…go O’s…

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        January 16, 2020 at 11:14 pm

        .288 BA, he has a higher fielding percentage than every shortstop in the MLB. Is this the description of a “lower level FA?”

        • CalsPals

          January 17, 2020 at 7:21 am

          It’s my opinion, I don’t think he is a higher level FA, or he wouldn’t have signed with the current O’s…he is an upgrade, as last yrs starter should have been in the minors…go O’s…

    • Camden Brooks

      January 16, 2020 at 6:22 pm

      Yeah, I’m sure that’s what he’s doing CP. Again, more twisting of info to fit your anti-Elias diatribe.

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:28 pm

      What was I thinking, you’re right, my bad, people can’t have an opinion different than yours…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:36 pm

      Wait, I just read where you said Elias better sign legit FA later, isn’t that what I just said & you had a hissy fit, I called them lower level FA, no twisting of words, those are your words, hysterical…lmao…go O’s…

    • Camden Brooks

      January 16, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      CP you really are something. You have had a condescending attitude toward Elias since he was hired. My only problem with you (and a few others here) is that you CONSTANTLY imply you know more than he does. Guess what…you don’t. The man has been hired to do a job, and you haven’t given him a chance to do it. If the organization is still terrible in 2-3 years, I’ll be the first to blame Elias. You have the patience of a 3-year old.

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:51 pm

      Who’s twisting words…look at what you said, verbatim….lmao…I love reading your attempts at what I don’t know….go O’s…

    • ClayDal

      January 17, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Did want to respond to the comment that the Orioles under appreciated Villar. The Orioles weren’t the only team to do so. The Orioles tried trading him at the deadline this year and found no takers. Even when they placed him on waivers, the other 29 teams passed on him. Apparently, no one wanted to pay Villar 8 million or so. As for the Marlins, they only traded for him because they think they can trade him. If they are unsuccessful, as I suspect they will, don’t be shocked if he is released before Opening Day. That way the Marlins only have to pay him 45 days severance pay. Then the Orioles can bring him back cheap and we can all live happily ever after. At least for 2020.

  2. Bman

    January 16, 2020 at 8:33 am

    Keep percolating up talent. I’m excited watching the minors and rebuild and player progression. Let’s just hope there’s a point in the not tooo distant future when Os are relevant again and fun to watch.

  3. Orial

    January 16, 2020 at 8:51 am

    Rich you’ve got the patience of a Saint. That question–“when will the franchise realize they have to have a core” is idiotic. Duh that IS the game plan.I do agree that it is encouraging to have Iglesias,Hays up the middle. Rich I bet you’re yearning for the day of no more Chris Davis questions. Continued offensive improvement from Ruiz,Santander will be of interest to me.

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 16, 2020 at 8:59 am

      Orial, for several years, I’ve been telling people that I’ll be writing about Chris Davis’ contract for the rest of my career.

  4. willmiranda

    January 16, 2020 at 10:00 am

    I don’t think either Hunter Harvey or Anthony Santander is evidence of a successful rebuild, as both were acquired not only before Elias’ arrival but even before Duquette’s selloff. By the way, Rich, if you intend to keep Davis in the spotlight, he should be paying you a retainer. Or is Boras using aliases to ask you questions and keep his client’s name out there?

    • Bhoffman1

      January 16, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Perfect

    • Rich Dubroff

      January 16, 2020 at 10:56 am

      Will, I received more questions about Davis than about any other topic this time.

      • willmiranda

        January 17, 2020 at 10:17 am

        Not criticizing you about Davis. Just having fun with the notion that on the New O’s
        Chris Davis is the most popular personality.

  5. CalsPals

    January 16, 2020 at 10:13 am

    Buck just interviewed w/Astros….irony?…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 16, 2020 at 11:19 am

      Buck Analytics

    • VICTORTEE

      January 16, 2020 at 11:59 am

      I hope he gets the job. Go Buck!

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 12:44 pm

      I’m sure the Astros have employees that would help w/analytics…lol…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 16, 2020 at 5:44 pm

        Remember CP … Us old geezers just don’t get these analytic thing-a-ma-jigs!
        Maybe Buck will pick it up if the ‘Stros bang the drum slowly.

    • WorldlyView

      January 16, 2020 at 3:23 pm

      Greater irony: he might be hired by the Red Sox!

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 16, 2020 at 5:48 pm

        I just threw up in my mouth a little

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:05 pm

      Agreed…Red Sox….arghhhh…..go O’s…

  6. jimcarter

    January 16, 2020 at 12:05 pm

    For examples of a rebuild, see what the White Sox have done this offseason. They’ve spent over 200 million to add to an existing young core. Most of that talent and the younger off season additions offer them a 3 to 4 year competitive window. Of course; the hard part was getting 5 or 6 guys to click at the same time. It’s likely that Elias will keep the spending low until a similar number of players step up in Baltimore. Unfortunately; aside from some flashes of talent (Hays), the Orioles have only Mancini and Means who have ended a full season with good numbers. Even Means faltered in the latter half of 2019. This season should provide a good idea of potential regarding Akin, Kremer, Hays and Mountcastle. If all four excelled and Means returned to first half 2019 form, then I think free agent spending for top talent could begin.

    • Camden Brooks

      January 16, 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Agreed. Once we have legit talent in Baltimore, Elias had better spend good money on legit FA’s to fill in any gaps.

    • ClayDal

      January 16, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Just a reminder that Elias has no money. The money comes from the Angelos family piggy bank. Ownership has spent money in the past-not always wisely. When the time is right I am sure the Angelos brothers will authorize (order) Elias to spend their money

      • Birdman

        January 16, 2020 at 4:05 pm

        Hope you are correct … but with declining attendance and the MASN difficulties, I’m not as confident that ownership will step up on FA spending.

    • CalsPals

      January 16, 2020 at 6:37 pm

      Lower level FA vs legit FA…hmmm…I’m sooo confused…go O’s…

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