Will Orioles trade Santander? No universal DH and expanded playoffs in 2021 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Will Orioles trade Santander? No universal DH and expanded playoffs in 2021

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

In the last several days, the evidence that money is tight for the Orioles keeps mounting. On January 15th, the Orioles reached an agreement on a one-year, $4.75 million contract with first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini but failed to sign outfielder Anthony Santander.

Santander asked for $2.475 million, the Orioles offered $2.1 million, and the case will go to arbitration.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said the team wouldn’t negotiate between the deadline for exchanging figures with those eligible for arbitration and the hearing.

“With us not having been able to reach an agreement with him, which is OK, it’s part of the he business, it happens,” Elias said. “We will be proceeding to arbitration.”

Not long after Elias said that came the first report from MASNsports.com that Santander might be available in a trade followed by another in The Athletic that the Orioles attempted to convince Mancini and Santander to defer part of their 2021 salaries to 2022 and/or 2023. Both rejected the offer.

Deferred money is common in long-term deals, but not for players who are in their first year of arbitration, as Santander is, or their second, as is Mancini.

Santander had a strong year in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and would be attractive in a trade.

Elias has proclaimed he expects the Orioles to be an aggressive trader, a “transactional” team.

Santander appears to be the kind of player the Orioles would want to keep. If they trade him, what message does that send to other attractive players who reach arbitration eligibility?


It’s one thing to trade or release players who are going to be expensive. Shortly before the Orioles would have had to offer infielder Jonathan Villar a 2019 contract that might have cost them $10 million, they were able to trade him to Miami for left-hander Easton Lucas.

It worked out well for the Orioles because even though Villar signed for $8.2 million with the Marlins, they got a better, cheaper shortstop in José Iglesias, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels last month rather than paying him the $3.5 million 2021 option they had picked up in November.

Iglesias played well but injuries limited him to 39 games in the 60-game 2020 season.

The pandemic has made money much tighter. The uncertainty of when and how many fans will be admitted to Oriole Park whenever the 2021 season begins doesn’t make things easier.

Santander’s case is different than those of Villar or Iglesias. Although he’s not technically a home-grown Oriole, he’s only played in the majors as an Oriole.

After the Orioles took Santander in the Rule 5 draft in December 2016, he struggled at the major league level late in 2017 and early in 2018. It wasn’t until June 2019 that he was called up and produced.

In 93 games in 2019, Santander hit .261 with a .773 OPS. He had 20 home runs and 59 RBIs. Last season, Santander again hit .261 but his OPS was .890, and he produced 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 37 games. His season ended on September 4th when he strained an oblique muscle.

Elias is not the sentimental type and looks at the Orioles’ internal analytics and their bottom line.

But baseball fans are sentimental, and they want to identify with players.

On the current team, there are a number of players with appealing stories. There’s Mancini, who dealt with colon cancer last year and is eager to come back this season.

There’s John Means, who was never on any Orioles top prospect lists, but made the All-Star team in 2019 and, after losing his father to cancer last August, had a strong September.

Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins are fun to watch play the outfield, and Ryan Mountcastle lived up to his billing as a top prospect.

Santander’s rise at the plate and in right field has been enjoyable to track, too.

If the rebuild is successful and the team is more competitive in 2022 and 2023, fans will identify with the best players.

The idea of trading a potential star player just as he’s blossoming is objectionable to fans.

The Orioles might end up signing Santander and allowing him to stay through this season and beyond. However, in this new age of Orioles baseball, trading players after they’ve spent just a few years in Baltimore might turn out to be the case.

No universal DH or expanded playoffs: Major League Baseball and the Players Association failed to reach agreement on a universal designated hitter in 2021 or expansion of the postseason.

With so much interleague play in 2020, the DH was used in all games and the playoffs were expanded to 16 teams.

MLB has an agreement with ESPN to televise additional postseason games. For now, 10 teams will play in October.

The league offered the universal DH as an incentive for expanded playoffs, and the union objected. Both items will be part of the negotiations for the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, which expires in December.

Spring training in Arizona delayed? Eight cities in Arizona and the director of the Cactus League have petitioned MLB to delay spring training in their state.

Their thought is that if spring training is delayed, Covid-19 infection rates could fall markedly in a month.

The Orioles are scheduled to begin spring training in Sarasota, Florida in three weeks, on February 16th, and there has been no movement from Florida officials and the Grapefruit League to delay the start.

MLB has told teams to be prepared to begin spring training on time, and the Players Association expects to play a full 162-game schedule beginning on April 1st.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. CalsPals

    January 26, 2021 at 7:25 am

    So basically, not sending another good message to Rutschman, wonder how many girlfriends Mikey has had, always something better coming along the pike…I think this is going to not be a fun yr…go O’s…

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 26, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Shame for even thinking of it.

  3. BarstoolSleeper

    January 26, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Santander is the only real tradeable chip left on the Orioles. Doesn’t mean he will be moved but it also doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be moved. Think about it. He’s under team control until 2024. That’s attractive to a lot of teams. He gets hurt and misses time every year for the last 4+ seasons. The Orioles have a lot of outfield depth for the first time in a while. Maybe they trade him for 2-3 prospects and see what Diaz can do in right field. He could play for 2 seasons and then Heston will be ready to call up and play RF. They aren’t winning this year. Fact. So let Elias make the team better whether that’s keeping him or moving him.

  4. Orioles20

    January 26, 2021 at 8:02 am

    I think fans are reading to much into this. The Marlins had interest so Elias listened. Given where the orioles are at they’d be stupid to not listen on guys Santander.


    January 26, 2021 at 8:21 am

    Elias is a great young GM. How much would another organization trade for him? I’m sure we can get a couple of 16 YO Dominicans who
    are the 50th and 51st best prospects in their organization.

  6. Phil770

    January 26, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Cash is king. These guys do not have the resources to keep the team operational, much less competitive. Hopefully, the O’s can avoid bankruptcy, which is how PA acquired the team.

  7. Orial

    January 26, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Getting to be an old,tiresome subject(financial hardship) but I can’t resist chiming in anyway. Elias saying–“Orioles are gonna be aggressive traders,a transactional team” fits right in with his motto of saying a lot but explaining little. Santander not being sentimental–he must see the writing on the wall. Just sell the damn team,this can’t all be pandemic related. Why won’t baseball just make a universal DH and get themselves out of the Dark Ages. Us old men and cigars won’t be spewing the values of old time baseball much longer. Come on MLB –get with the times.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      January 26, 2021 at 9:17 am

      Selling the team isn’t going to do anything. The Orioles are not in a position to win. Look at the division they’re in let alone the rest of the league. The Yankees and Jays are poised to win right now. The Orioles need to do everything they can for the future. 2021 is not true Orioles year. We all knew that. Why are you all so upset. It’s a rebuild. These things take time. If trades are how we build for the future, I’m all for it. The farm system is improving and talent is in the organization.

    • Phil770

      January 26, 2021 at 9:23 am

      It’s the union that won’t agree to DH. The two sides do not like or respect one another. 2022 season may be impacted by labor strife…Arbitration drives economics. Santander made $500k leotard last year. Os offered $2.1M, still not enough, arbitrator could award more.

  8. Georgia Oriole

    January 26, 2021 at 10:22 am

    The Orioles are actually quite lucky that their rebuild timing ended up aligning with the economic challenges of the pandemic. They shed payroll before they would have otherwise had to.

  9. willmiranda

    January 26, 2021 at 11:22 am

    Last year the O’s wouldn’t pay $10M for a shortstop; this year they wouldn’t pay $3M for a shortstop. Is this progress?

    • Phil770

      January 26, 2021 at 1:48 pm

      Last year, the shortstop was not worth $10M, which both the Marlins and the Jays verified. Same player available now for much less, except he is not a good fielder. This year, it seems that they flat out don’t have the money. Not progress, but reality.

  10. Bmore

    January 26, 2021 at 12:01 pm

    Maybe the Orioles could go and ask the Yankees for a loan this is absolutely ridiculous but they’re still my team and I love them go Orioles

  11. NormOs

    January 26, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    I was under the impression that Santander was part of the O’s rebuild. Is it that ” if you can’t play for minimum then the O’s don’t want you”? So, if that’s the case, then Rich, we are back to….”When does the REBUILD start?” It looks like he’s gone and Mancini goes next followed by Means and Harvey. A CLEAN SWEEP.

    • CalsPals

      January 26, 2021 at 12:39 pm

      Yikes…go O’s…

    • WorldlyView

      January 27, 2021 at 3:03 am

      Norm: Yes, Orioles ownership prefers to maximize the number of players who are paid the MLB minimum. There could be as many as 18 of them in the upcoming season. As to when the rebuild starts, it already has. But I see it is a rebuild of the O’s’ balance sheet, not its on-field competitiveness. If this is correct, it would not be all that surprising to see both Mancini and Santander traded for yet another gaggle of low-paid prospects, some of whom could be major league-ready by 2025. Meanwhile, the other team I follow, the Nationals (it’s OK, I live in the D.C. suburbs), do things differently. They spend big bucks to shore up weaknesses in their roster. They just signed a very good relief pitcher-free agent to a healthy one-year contract worth $10.5 million. If you delete the 2021 salaries of Davis, Cobb, Mancini and Santander, $10.5 million is just a little bit less than the currently projected salaries of the other 22 players that will round out the Oriole roster. (You can check my arithmetic at https://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BAL/baltimore-orioles-salaries-and-contracts.shtml.) This is why I think nothing short of a jaw dropping miracle will allow our team to be near or above .500 this year.

  12. ClayDal

    January 26, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    The rumors about Santander seem to be coming from the Marlins side. The idea that a player on the Orioles may be of interest to another team isn’t shocking. The original reporting from MASN Roch Kubatko only said the Orioles are listening. But since there isn’t a lot of Oriole news this off-season, at least as far as adding anyone, people jump to conclusions. I can’t criticize the Orioles for a trade they haven’t made-yet. When/if it happens see what the return is before making a conclusion
    As for the universal DH , this should be a no brainer. The owners should not have linked it to an expanded post season. Too many teams in the post season as is. If I were dictator of baseball, 32 teams, 4 divisions of 8 and only the division winner gets in. That way the regular season would be all important. I have fond , but bittersweet memories of 1982 when every day down the stretch was important. The ending was disappointing, but it was an incredible run, which wouldn’t happen with a WC

  13. G-man

    January 26, 2021 at 6:25 pm

    I don’t know why everyone is upset about Santander being on the trading block. The Orioles have a surplus of outfielders. Hopefully Santander could be flipped for a solid starting pitcher.

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