Orioles will begin busy winter after World Series - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles will begin busy winter after World Series

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles can begin making concrete plans for the 2021 season after the World Series ends either Tuesday or Wednesday night.

Of course, we don’t know what the 2021 season will be like—if spring training will begin in mid-February or if the season will start on April 1 as scheduled.

There are a number of items on executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias’ to-do list:

Make a decision on Iglesias

The Orioles must decide whether to pick up shortstop José Iglesias’ $3.5 million option for the 2021 season or buy him out for $500,000.

Even though injuries to his quadriceps muscle and wrist limited him to 39 games, Iglesias’ signing was a success. When he played shortstop, the team looked crisper and were 11-11. When Ramón Urias, Pat Valaika and Andrew Velazquez started, they were 14-24. The Orioles’ record when Iglesias was the designated hitter was 3-10.

In a normal offseason, it would be an easy decision to pick up the option (his 2020 contract was for $3 million. However, these are not normal times, and money is tight. If the Orioles don’t pick up the option, they could try to sign Iglesias for a reduced rate or sign another free agent.

Finalize the 40-man roster

The Orioles have 36 players on the 40-man roster. They have four on the 60-day injured list — pitcher Wade LeBlanc, infielder Richie Martin, first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini and pitcher Kohl Stewart, who is on the Covid-19 list. Stewart opted out of the 2020 season on July 31st.

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Mancini, who finished his chemotherapy after colon cancer surgery on March 12th, and Martin, who had a broken wrist, will be added to the roster. Stewart, who could provide depth in the starting rotation, might also be added.

LeBlanc will be a free agent, as will catcher Bryan Holaday, and they won’t be added.

The Orioles will need to make room for Rule 5 eligible minor leaguers. A year ago, when the roster was weaker than it is now, pitchers Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, outfielder Ryan McKenna and first baseman/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle were added to the roster.

Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, right-handed pitcher Michael Baumann and left-hander Zac Lowther are expected to be added to the roster.

There’s a good chance right-handed reliever Isaac Mattson could be added. Others who could be considered are right-handed reliever Zach Pop, who had Tommy John surgery in May 2019, infielders Rylan Bannon and Mason McCoy and left-handed starter Alexander Wells.

Right-hander Gray Fenter, who has never pitched above Low-A Delmarva, left-hander Brian Gonzalez and right-hander Cody Sedlock, the team’s top pick in 2016, weren’t added to the 40-man roster a year ago and are long shots.

Prepare for arbitration

Again, the economic climate is likely to affect the Orioles’ decisions.

Mancini, second baseman Hanser Alberto, right-handed pitcher Shawn Armstrong, designated hitter Renato Núñez, rightfielder Anthony Santander, catcher Pedro Severino and infielder Pat Valaika are eligible for arbitration.

Mancini and Santander will be kept, and most of the others might be back, too. It’s possible that trades could be arranged just before 40-man rosters have to be set in early December.

Last year, right-handed starter Dylan Bundy and infielder Jonathan Villar were traded ahead of the deadline for tendering a contract.

Alberto is heading into his second year of arbitration eligibility and appears vulnerable. Núñez could be dealt because with the return of Mancini and a glut of young outfielders, his DH spot may be up for grabs.

With reduced revenues, predicting arbitration salaries is particularly dicey this year. There could be a large number of players not tendered contracts around the game.

Select pitching and third base coaches

Doug Brocail, who was the Orioles’ pitching coach in 2019 and 2020, won’t be returning for 2021. Nor will José Flores, who was the Orioles’ third base coach for the past two years.

It’s possible that the Orioles will reduce their eight-man coaching staff to seven for next season.

Chris Holt, the team’s director of pitching, is considered the likely successor to Brocail.

For a third base coach, the Orioles could ask one of their other coaches, Tim Cossins, Fredi González, José Hernandez or Anthony Sanders, to shift roles.

Cossins is the major league field coordinator and catching instructor. González, who does not have the title of bench coach, assists manager Brandon Hyde during games. Hernandez was the assistant hitting coach this year, and Sanders was the first base coach.

Wilkerson returning: As expected, the Orioles signed infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson to a minor league contract.

Wilkerson missed the 2020 season after he broke his left ring finger in the team’s first exhibition game in Philadelphia on July 19. He was later released.

Wilkerson’s signing was first reported by MASNsports.com and confirmed by industry sources.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Orial

    October 26, 2020 at 8:58 am

    Thorough writeup on what looks to be an unorthodox off season. While a few elite teams will be fighting over Bauer,Realmutto,and Springer us O’s fans will be sweating about Stevie’s return as we find out Valaika doesn’t financially fit in. Oh God the thought. Really curious to see if Mancini will be physically ready. Rich has he started working out in baseball ways? Yes Nunez will be super expendable. Interesting that a lot of teams may forsake a player in arbitration as a cost cutting issue. Makes me wonder if any of these released players could actually be an improvement over Alberto–thinking someone who has played for perennial winning teams(could mean a lot). We’ve all heard of working with tight budgets but this may be at a whole new level. Oh well hope for the best.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 26, 2020 at 9:49 am

      I know that Trey is working out, not sure if he’s hitting yet.

  2. Bancells Moustache

    October 26, 2020 at 10:05 am

    Rich, how concerned should the Birdland faithful be about this pension thing with Holt and Elias? It seems like a trivial, administrative issue but when they through the word “fraud” around it gets awful serious.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 26, 2020 at 10:16 am

      MLB said in a statement on Saturday night that there was nothing to the report.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 26, 2020 at 11:14 am

    Dang Rich, you covered a lot of ground today! Elias certainly has a lot on his plate this winter.

    Sooooo…. about15 minutes ago, before reading Rich’s piece, I would have said that it was a no-brainer to pick up the Iglesias option. However, after reading just how precious each 40 man spot is to protecting these young guys, I now have to rethink my position and admit it may be time to say goodbye to Jose. Honestly, I can remember this past spring thinking that the Iglesias signing was silly, and that the job should have been handed to Martin. Iglesias certainly proved me wrong .. as he was arguably, our best hitter last year! Be that as it may, under the current circumstances, I think it’s time to fall back to my opinion from last spring and hope to see what Martin has this coming year.

    And after I touting an extension for Hanser this past summer, I now think it’s a good thing that nobody listens to me! Time to say buh-bye to Alberto as well as Nunez … and wishfully thinking ..preferably via trades. They each served us relatively well, but youth must be served.

  4. Tony Paparella

    October 26, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    I’m thinking that 3 million plus is too much for Birds to keep Iglesias under these latest conditions and uncertainty.He is only 30 and is a solid player but they do have to start working Martin or someone into that position pretty quick.Everyone dumping On Alberto from what I see but if he is cheap enough and can get the bat going again might be worth the keep.Seems like there are so,so many options and decisions that will have to be made and that we may have to lose guys in order to bring others into the mold.Just hoping they especially concentrate in the pitching area after seeing what the Rays have done with their franchise.

  5. NormOs

    October 26, 2020 at 2:29 pm

    Since the O’s are still not interested in signing any of “The top 50 Free Agents”, we may be better off resigning Alberto since he can hit, making up, somewhat, for his defensive shortcomings. With Mancini, Ryan M., Mullins, Santander, & Hays, IMHO, the outfield, 1st base, and DH seems to be set. I would like to see Jose resigned also. Oh yes, one problem I have is spending somebody elses money.

  6. Bhoffman1

    October 26, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    In my opinion signing Jose is a no brainer and letting Alberto and Nunez go is one too. Rich why can’t Richie Martin learn second base. He’s never gonna hit big but his defense could be a plus there and in a year or two maybe Gunner will be ready for SS.
    I know this has nothing to do with this column but I’m so impressed with Tampa’s team. They gotta have even less money then us to spend. Will they be able to keep this team intact .

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      October 26, 2020 at 4:20 pm

      Nobody thought Mullins could hit either. And who needs a defensive wizard at 2nd base? Martin’s only value IMO is at shortstop.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 26, 2020 at 4:26 pm

      Bruce, Richie Martin was playing some second base during spring training.

      As you know, I’ve compared the Rays to the Orioles in recent weeks. They’re likely to make changes because they won’t give out big money contracts, but they have some excellent arms in their system.

  7. fan since 63

    October 26, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    I hope that we keep Inglesias as his playing ability and veteran status make him a valuable commodity for the O’s.

    This would also give us more time to see if Martin can develop or if we need to go in a different direction at short.

  8. birdroppings

    October 26, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    I’m interested in Kohl Stewart’s contract. I thought he signed a one year 2 way contract last year. If so, wouldn’t he be a free agent or did does he have an option year?

    • ClayDal

      October 26, 2020 at 4:19 pm

      Kohl Stewart was a minor league free agent last year because the Twins removed him from the roster and he had 6 years minor league experience. Stewart doesn’t have 6 years on major league service time. As long as the Orioles keep him on the 40 man roster he is under their control. If he is removed, then he would be a free agent

      • Rich Dubroff

        October 26, 2020 at 4:27 pm

        Didn’t see that you had already answered this, John.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 26, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      He doesn’t have six years in the majors so if the Orioles would like to retain him, they can. The Twins didn’t have room for him last year, so they let him go.

  9. SAJ

    October 26, 2020 at 11:11 pm

    This is a ’19 offseason approach to a whole new situation. After a year of 70% of normal expensesand 30% of revenue and facing another abnormal season and recession economy, nobody’s spending on marginal players. Rebuilding teams for sure won’t be keeping arb eligible guys unless they’re Mancini -Santander good. The arbitrators won’t adjust to the new economics.

    I believe the orioles will not tender the rest. For example, there are 14 2nd base free agents and Alberto ranks around the middle. A team that is firing coaches and marketing staff is NOT giving $2.5M to Alberto when it can play minimum guys. Iglesias may not even be renewed unless he has trade value at that price. Elias is disciplined so all $ will be for contributoirs on the contending ’23 team.

    This is my opinion. Rich, you have standing to get ahold of agents. And you need topics in the offseaon. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wants to know how they think this will develop. How bout researching it for us?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

      Interestingly, some of our most committed and erudite readers are named Steven. Thank you for a good suggestion.

  10. Phil770

    October 27, 2020 at 9:34 am

    Rich, it should be noted that a number of teams have laid off personnel due to the current situation including 100 by the Cubs and 40 by the Red Sox. Cubs fans are far worse in their comments about the Ricketts family than O’s fans about the Angelos family. The industry will restructure further over the next two years. Even for these wealthy owners, cash is king. More cash going out versus coming in is not sustainable.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 27, 2020 at 10:30 am

      The Cubs have at least been successfully artistically and financially in recent years, Phil. They’ve made costly renovations to Wrigley Field, making themselves targets. Baseball people expect more retrenchment in the coming days.

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