Jones joins Orioles' utility options; Santander's case heard; Minor league signings - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Jones joins Orioles’ utility options; Santander’s case heard; Minor league signings

Jahmai Jones
Photo credit: Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

The trade of starting pitcher Alex Cobb and the signings of veteran right-hander Felix Hernández and left-hander Wade LeBlanc have drawn attention this week, but it’s possible the Orioles added a player who might help them in 2021.

For the first time in executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias’ tenure with the Orioles, he traded for a player with some major league experience, although the bare minimum.

Jahmai Jones, a 23-year-old second baseman who has played the outfield, was the return in the Cobb deal to the Los Angeles Angels.

Jones, a right-handed hitter, was the Angels’ second-round draft choice in 2015 and made a brief major league debut last year, playing three games and going 3-for-7 with an RBI.

Baseball America inserted Jones as the Orioles’ 16th-rated prospect. He joins two right-handed pitchers, Kyle Bradish (12) and Garrett Stallings (26), who were also obtained from the Angels. Bradish was part of the December 2019 four-pitcher haul for starter Dylan Bundy, and Stallings came in the December 2020 deal for shortstop José Iglesias.

Jones hasn’t played shortstop or third base but his experience in the outfield could add to his value as a possible utility player. With rosters apparently set at 26 players this season, the Orioles will have a four-man bench. If they carry one utility infielder, it’s likely to be Pat Valaika, who has played all four infield positions and played in 52 of the 60 games in 2020.

There’s also Ramón Urias, who played shortstop and second base in a 10-game cameo last season; Rylan Bannon, who has played second and third in the minors and has been added to the 40-man roster; and Richie Martin, who broke the hamate bone in his left hand and will not see the field until next month, according to Elias. Martin missed all of last season because of a broken bone in his right wrist.

Martin, who’s a natural shortstop, will likely start the season at Triple-A Norfolk. Should the Orioles trade Freddy Galvis later in the season, Martin could step into that role.

Then there’s Stevie Wilkerson, who re-signed a minor league contract with the team after missing last season because of a broken finger. He, too, can play the outfield and infield.

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Santander’s arbitration: Elias had his first arbitration case on Wednesday. Outfielder Anthony Santander, who was voted Most Valuable Oriole in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, asked for $2.475 million; the Orioles’ offer was $2.1 million.

Santander, who is in his first year of arbitration eligibility, hit .261 with 11 home runs and 32 RBIs in 37 games. He suffered a season-ending right oblique injury on September 4th.

The case, the Orioles’ first since reliever Brad Brach in 2017, was argued before arbitrators Richard Bloch, Melinda Gordon and Frederic Horowitz.

Minor signings: Besides Hernandez and LeBlanc, the Orioles signed infielders Malquin Canelo and Seth Mejias-Brean, and right-handed pitchers Dusten Knight, Konner Wade and Spenser Watkins to minor league deals.

Canelo, primarily a shortstop, spent eight seasons in the Phillies’ organization. The 26-year-old was invited to major league camp by the Orioles last spring but was not a part of the 60-man player pool.

Mejias-Brean is a 29-year-old corner infielder with some professional experience at shortstop. He hit .233 with two home runs and five RBIs in 14 games with San Diego in 2019. Mejias-Brean has also spent time in the Cincinnati and Seattle organizations.

Knight, 30. spent six seasons in the San Francisco organization,and part of 2019 in Minnesota’s. He was 3-6 with a 3.78 ERA in 13 games for the Atlantic League’s Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2019. Knight’s minor league record is 26-11 with a 3.06 ERA.

Wade, 29, was acquired by the Orioles in November 2017 from Colorado for international bonus smoney but released before the start of the 2018 season. He’s 35-39 in six seasons in the Colorado and Boston organizations.

Watkins, 28, pitched six seasons in the Detroit chain with a 41-27 record and 3.88 ERA.

Call for questions: I’ll be answering your Orioles questions next week. Please leave them in the comments section below or email them to: [email protected]

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Orial

    February 4, 2021 at 8:41 am

    I must say that this has been an active week for the organization in relation to the many stagnant prior weeks. Good to see. Jones competing for a utility role fits under the “we’ll see what happens” category. I would prefer him at AAA,let him play full time and let’s see what we’ve got. King Felix–people seem more excited about WHO we got instead of WHAT we got. He’s worth a look but not expecting a whole lot. Rich speaking of MiLB the Major Leagues have been getting all the attention with the 154 game vs 162 game debate but what of the Minors? Do they start on time? Do we do finally get Rutschman,Kjerstad,Diaz,etc. into some much needed live action?

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 4, 2021 at 8:44 am

      Minor league schedules haven’t been set yet. It appears Triple-A could start on time while Double-A and A ball would start a month late and play May-October.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 12:29 pm

      Utility player, OK at many positions, master of none…go O’s…

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 4, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Jahmai Who? Wade LeBlanc and a Geriatric King Felix? Really? This is the best Mikey can do?

    This team was learning how to win last year. It’s a process. And that process has been seriously undermined this week, by Mike Elia’s total disregard to the product that is currently on the field. Jahmai Jones more likely than not, isn’t going to help this team win games this year any more than the likes of Stevie Wilkerson or Ramon Urias. (I can’t believe we’re still mentioning Ramon)

    Elias gave up a professional grade, major league innings eater, if not world beater, for a bag of Walmart brand crackers. Mr. Cobb was one of the very few players on the team that has experienced success on this level. Who’s to lead the charges now? Mark my word, Cobb will be missed more than our smorgasbord of discount-brand middle infielders will contribute towards a few wins.

    Elias continues to brush off the mounting losses by telling us it’s part of the plan. And some of us are buying it.

    • Birdman

      February 4, 2021 at 11:33 am

      Boog … We know you’re averse to ever giving Elias positive credit for any move he makes, but I would have thought you would make an exception this time … Cobb had a 7-22 record, and pitched just 217 innings (not quite an “innings eater”), in three years with the Orioles. Can’t imagine there were many teams out there willing take on a $10 million expense to rent Cobb for one season The fact that the Orioles were able to unload $10 million in salary (see Rich below) and get any kind of prospect for Cobb seems like a surprisingly good result.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        February 4, 2021 at 2:35 pm

        First off, I could care less about the Orioles saving any money. These are men of unimaginable wealth to most of us, and although they had no control of a lack of fans in the stands last year, they did in prior years .. and most likely will have control over it to some degree this year. Putting a softball team on a major league field is hardly going to put fannies back in the stands and sell beer in Bal’more.

        As for Cobb, yeah, he lost a full year and part of another due to injury. Stuff happens. He was healthy last year for the most part and put in over 5 innings per start. In today’s game, that’s not terrible. Who else do we have that than can say that? John Means average 4.3 per start. Kegin Akin less than 4. Wojo? LeBlanc or Milone?

        No … Cobb was our best pitcher, and as far as I know .. is still healthy. For a team that’s kicking the Tires on LeBlanc and King Felix, I find it absurd that they’d let their only bona-fide big league pitcher, save Means, go for a middle of the pack minor league prospect. Aren’t we tired of seeing the other teams put up a 10 spot by the 4th inning?

        As far as Elias goes, I give him credit for being a way smarter human being than most, certainly myself, but there is only one thing I’ve seen him do so far that I love …. and that’s the program he’s started in Latin America. Everything else so far has been slinging bubblegum against the wall and hoping that something sticks. It’s almost as if he doesn’t trust his eyes or his scouting department’s eyes … power in numbers I suppose.

        I just don’t see why building a farm system for the future and putting a respectable product on the field today have to be exclusive of each other. This team could win today..this year. There IS talent there. But getting rid of a good major league pitcher and your best infielder from last year? Sure doesn’t help does it?

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 3:06 pm

      Agree, just what Boog said….go O’s…

      • Birdman

        February 4, 2021 at 6:53 pm

        Cal … correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall you ripping Cobb as an expensive flop on several occasions, and pointing out that he hadn’t won even one home game in three years … now you seem to be changing your tune, endorsing Boog’s praise of him.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 7:11 pm

      Never said anything about his performance, said that I personally didn’t like him, still don’t…but as I’ve said earlier, he was our best pitcher, but again that wasn’t saying much, but thanks for being so interested in what I have to say, didn’t know people weren’t allowed to change their minds, again, not mad to see him go but didn’t make sense, hope that’s ok….go O’s…

  3. OrioleMaze

    February 4, 2021 at 10:46 am

    Rich, have you been able to figure out how much of Cobb’s contract the O’s will have to eat?
    I’m assuming we’d save at least a million or so after the minor league signings to replace him.
    It’s all about the Benjamins!

    • Rich Dubroff

      February 4, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Apparently, it’s $10 million. He’s owed in
      excess of $20 million in deferred money.

  4. CalsPals

    February 4, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I read something somewhere that the O’s were paying 1/2 his contract…not sure how much that would be, the number 15 million is being thrown around, so the O’s are paying 7.5 of that, doesn’t sound that great to me…go O’s…

  5. Bman

    February 4, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    Cobb was gone either now or by June, good to do it now and get some younger arms a chance. Getting Jones at a position with few prospects is a nice bonus. He was a top 100 prospect not that long ago. Let’s see what he can do. I like the move. Increase that pipeline with as many prospects as possible. They are already percolating up this year, with more to come.

  6. willmiranda

    February 4, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    I’m amazed at how Rich can keep track of all these names. The O’s seem to be running a jobs fair. I don’t quarrel with the present Plan because only the most defective plans don’t look good on paper. But part of a plan should involve a timeline to a defined endpoint with empirical milestones along the way to demonstrate that the plan is working. Having twice as many marginal utility players and not-ready- or no-longer-ready-for-prime-time pitchers doesn’t really mark progress if the goal is a championship team. The choice presented seems to be between being patient while standing pat or being patient while stirring the pot. Patience is a virtue, but not a strategy.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 3:08 pm

      Totally what will said…go O’s…

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 4, 2021 at 3:51 pm

      Spot on with that last sentence willm …. are those your words? Wish I had said them …

      • willmiranda

        February 4, 2021 at 9:16 pm

        Thanks, Boog. I wasn’t consciously quoting anyone. I enjoy your comments, too.

    • Bhoffman1

      February 4, 2021 at 7:00 pm

      You would think the old man would want to speed things up while he is still around and I hope for much longer but patience is something that I personally do not have regarding this team anymore. They could have signed one or two qualify pitchers and infielders to go along with the kids and just release CD. Even cheap Tampa Bay signed Chris Archer for 6.5 mil and Wacha and talk about signing Marcel Ozuna.

  7. WorldlyView

    February 4, 2021 at 4:09 pm

    WM: The immediate goal is a Cheap team, not a Championship team. It’s remarkable to me that several people who post on the site continue to counsel patience, patience, and more patience. As for having a “timeline to a defined endpoint,” I don’t see that working here, given the many variables of assembling a competitive MLB team. What the believe-in-the-plan crowd misses is that a painfully high percentage of our most ballyhooed prospects may fail to become the stuff of first-class major league talent. The optimists seem to believe the strategy that worked in Houston will inevitably work here. It might not.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 4, 2021 at 8:05 pm

      The Angels have a payroll north of $170mil. Do you really think they’re World Series contenders this season? Of course some of the prospects will fail. That’s why they’re prospects. That is exactly the reason you get more of them, to increase the chance that you hit on some. And if there’s more than 1 at a position, they’re trade bait. The Houston plan may or may not work but at least the organization has a direction. The Angelos’ brought in Elias to do the Houston strategy and that’s exactly what he’s doing like it or not. He’s doing what he’s been hired to do. Houston model took time.

      • WorldlyView

        February 4, 2021 at 9:19 pm

        Even if Elias is doing what he was hired to do, it does not mean that I or anyone else has to like it. Your reference to the non-cost effective Angels’ payroll is the old strawman debating tactic. No one has advocated a massive increase in spending on pricey free agents. It is the same story with the rebuttal to me of yesterday that the Davis “Lets buy a championship” strategy didn’t work. Nobody has been advocating multi-million dollar, multi-year contracts. The Kool Aid drinkers who have totally embraced the current Orioles personnel strategy still have not demonstrated why the short-term signing of 2 or 3 or 4 intermediate-grade free agents (especially pitchers), a move that would minimize the chances of horrendous, depressing seasons in the next couple of years or more, would so deplete the Angelos’ family wealth that they wouldn’t or couldn’t shell out big bucks for free agents in the future when the O’s are competitive. Nor have you demonstrated why a short-term leasing of a few relatively inexpensive, non-superstar free agents would somehow dramatically slow down or cripple the blossoming of our farm system. It is not a black and white, either/or issue. But let me advance the apparently novel idea that you all are absolutely entitled to express your opinions.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 8:31 pm

      Houston, we have a problem…go O’s…

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 5, 2021 at 7:13 am

      Other than pitching and 3B what intermediate free agents would you go after? No decent pitcher wants to pitch at Camden yards against the A.L. East on this current Orioles team on a 1 year deal. That’s a problem that needs to be addressed in the future, not this year. The Orioles have pitching coming up through the organization so hopefully they can actually develop some of their own for once. As of yesterday not a single free agent 3B has been signed so maybe they will sign someone. Again the hot stove has been luke warm at best this offseason. The Os are notorious for signing guys during spring training so maybe you’ll get your wish.

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 7:23 am

      FA answer, any of them IF they’re not going to play their best youngens…go O’s…

    • BarstoolSleeper

      February 5, 2021 at 7:32 am

      CP, the outfield is full of “youngens”, they signed a gold glove 2B and Galvis at SS this offseason, Mancini is at 1B and the catchers are set. The only position they haven’t addressed is 3B. So “any of them” is a pretty lazy answer if you actually look at the team.

    • CalsPals

      February 5, 2021 at 8:15 am

      Not if they don’t playem & don’t call me lazy…go O’s…

  8. mmcmillan1123

    February 4, 2021 at 4:18 pm

    Félix Hernández was pitching very well for Atlanta and was slated to join their rotation before the season was delayed and he opted out for the year. Now that he has had a full year off he might fill that rotation spot for us. Cobb was wasted money and it’s good he is another team’s problem now. If Félix can’t stay healthy then there are more innings for our young guys. I don’t care about winning a few more games this year. I want us to win a lot of games in the next two or three. The orange Kool Aid tastes good!

    • Tileman

      February 5, 2021 at 9:21 am

      Agree MMC – the O’s finally have some great arms up and coming. Let’s have these guys anchor our rotation as the team sorts out the position players. Cash flow is king with any business especially in times when your main avenue of attaining that cash flow was turned off. I like the direction of the team and I’ll go down to the park buy some over priced beers and enjoy watching Santander, Mancini, Akin and others.

  9. WorldlyView

    February 4, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    Rich, Question for next week: I again ask about the now countless number of minor league contract signings that you have reported. Given the collective under performance of this group, do you have any insights as to how many, if any, of these guys declined offers from other teams to join the O’s? Are we the team of last resort?
    Also, do you have any info on how many free agents, if any, seeking to sign with us were rejected for lack of potential?

  10. Bhoffman1

    February 4, 2021 at 4:54 pm

    As much as I dislike the signing of LeBlanc and not going after one decent free agent because of cheapness and Elias philosophy of rebuild”we are still a year or two away” I like the signing of King Felix. He probably is threw but he is a future hall of famer who can be more helpful to the young guys then any pitching coach who never threw a ball over the plate.

    • Bhoffman1

      February 4, 2021 at 6:45 pm

      Threw I mean finished. Lol

    • dlgruber1

      February 4, 2021 at 7:54 pm

      Bhoffman please don’t take this wrong as I agree completely with liking the signing of Felix. I think he, if nothing else, will be a tremendous help as a mentor to all the young pitchers in camp and then on the team. What I take exception to is calling him a future Hall of Famer. If a career 169-136 gets you in the Hall of Fame then it’s really lost its luster. I know Koufax only won 165 but he also only lost 87. No one is ever gonna confuse Hernandez for Koufax. Again, tho, I love the signing and can’t wait to see him in an O’s uniform.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 7:58 pm

      Seems as though the standards for the HOF are changing as much as the game, the everyone needs a trophy mentality

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 8:02 pm

      Oops, is disheartening, sometimes teams accomplish quite a bit without a HOF player on the team, I think all the talk about the HOF is a hot topic right now, everyone has their favorite players & want them in the HOF, unfortunately some were/had pretty cool careers, just not HOF careers, sorry, old man rambling…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      February 4, 2021 at 10:56 pm

      King Felix record could have been a lot better if he played with a different franchise then Seattle like the Dodgers

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