Each October, MLBTradeRumors.com publishes a list of players who are eligible for arbitration and what salaries they think they’ll get.
This year, there are eight Orioles on their list, and the numbers vary greatly. Left-handed relievers Paul Fry and Tanner Scott, neither of whom finished the 2021 season on the Orioles’ roster, are eligible for the first time. They calculate that Scott, who was 5-4 with a 5.17 ERA and a 9.82 second-half ERA, could receive $1 million. Scott finished the season on the injured list because of a left knee injury.
Scott and Fry were considered possible trade chips in late July, but both stayed with the Orioles. Fry, who has a $1.1 million arbitration estimate, had a dreadful August with a 21.86 ERA after ending the previous month with a 2.79 ERA. Fry’s season totals were 4-5 with a 6.08 ERA and two saves, and he was sent to Triple-A Norfolk on August 29th and never returned to the Orioles. Fry had a 7.88 ERA in 11 games with the Tides.
There’s speculation that the Orioles could decide not to offer contracts to Scott or Fry, but since they finished the season with only Fernando Abad as a left-handed reliever, the relatively low numbers could entice the Orioles to keep both.
Infielder Pat Valaika, who agreed on a split contract in the hours before last year’s deadline for offering contracts, could get $1.3 million. Valaika was paid $875,000 while he was with the Orioles in 2021 and $300,000 in the minor leagues.
Valaika, who hit .277 with eight home runs and 16 RBIs with a .795 OPS in 2020, was a valuable team member because of his versatility. In 2021, he hit .201 with five home runs and 25 RBIs and a .540 OPS in 90 games.
With the Orioles expected to take a long look at Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías in spring training, it seems highly unlikely that Valaika will be offered a 2022 contract.
Jorge López could get a $1.5 million contract, MLBTradeRumors estimates. López, who finished the season on the injured list because of a sprained right ankle, sparkled in relief (2.16 ERA in eight games) after struggling as a starter (3-14, 6.35 ERA).
López impressed manager Brandon Hyde out of the bullpen, and a $1.5 million price tag seems reasonable for a team in need of bullpen arms.
First baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini could command a $7.9 million salary in his final season before free agency. Mancini received the same $4.75 million salary in 2021 that he did in 2020 when he wasn’t able to play because of colon cancer surgery and chemotherapy.
Mancini played in 147 games, the same number he played as a rookie in 2017, hitting .255 with a .758 OPS, 21 home runs and 71 RBIs. The Orioles could attempt to trade Mancini ahead of free agency this winter or offer him an extension.
Rightfielder Anthony Santander, who was the Most Valuable Oriole in 2020, had a disappointing 2021 season. He hit .241 with a .720 OPS, 18 home runs and 50 RBIs. In 2020, he had an .890 OPS.
Santander, who played in only 110 games, missed a month early in the season because of a sprained left ankle before a sprained right knee finished his year in the season’s final week. Santander, who was paid $2.1 million in 2021 after losing his arbitration case, could receive $3.7 million for next season. The Orioles could try to trade Santander, but his market value is lower than it was a year ago when he was a finalist for the American League Gold Glove in right field.
Starting pitcher John Means is in his first year of arbitration eligibility and was 6-8 with a 3.62 ERA. Means finished the season as one of the leaders in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with a 4.0. After his no-hitter on May 5th at Seattle, Means won just twice in 19 starts. He missed six weeks because of left shoulder fatigue, pitched well but received paltry support and watched as the bullpen often couldn’t hold his leads.
A $3.1 million salary seems low for a pitcher of his caliber.
Catcher Pedro Severino, who agreed to a $1.825 million salary before the deadline for offering contracts in 2020, could get the same $3.1 million that Means could draw, MLBTradeRumors believes. If Severino is going to draw a $3.1 million paycheck in 2022, it won’t be from the Orioles.
They’ll try to trade him ahead of the December 2nd deadline for offering contracts, a day after the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. Severino’s figure is as a starter, and the Orioles wouldn’t pay that money for a backup catcher. With top prospect Adley Rutschman on the horizon for 2022, his backup will get a fraction of that $3.1 million. If the Orioles can’t trade Severino, he isn’t likely to be offered a contract.
Of course, failure to agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could hold up the process. It’s possible that the arbitration process will undergo major changes or be ended as part of an agreement.
Notes: Last week, pitchers Adam Plutko and César Valdez, who ended the season with Norfolk, filed for free agency. … Cedric Mullins is one of seven American League finalists for the Hank Aaron award, given to the top offensive performer in each league. Fans can vote for a finalist in each league at MLB.com/aaron. Voting continues through Friday.