Reviewing Orioles' possible salaries in arbitration -

Rich Dubroff

Reviewing Orioles’ possible salaries in arbitration

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Each October, 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 Voting continues through Friday.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB






  1. Arkyoriole

    October 12, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Your arbitration decisions seem sound to me. Mancini will be a tough call.

  2. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    October 12, 2021 at 8:02 am

    Try to sign Means at least 3 years at $5M AAV please.
    Can’t reasonably defend signing Mancini at more than $5.5M IMO.
    Arbitration figure for Severino probably due to the lack of quality of FA catchers who made $2M or less in 2021, Severino probably will get $3M next season. If choice is between Wynns and Severino, hope the O’s choose Severino for 2022.

    • Buzz1979

      October 12, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Severino is a goner. Wynns wil be the back up.

  3. Orial

    October 12, 2021 at 8:41 am

    Good bye Pedro-too expensive for a back-up,a VERY tough era coming up with Trey–nice guy but is he really a long term candidate? He is what he is,getting older,and loads of young talent on the horizon(hopefully). Fry/Scott present a real quandary. They both seem to be a “tweak” away from being top notch relievers. The process continues.

  4. Bhoffman1

    October 12, 2021 at 8:53 am

    The senior Valdez story is over it was a great storyline for a few months back to the Mexican league but Urias stays. I read we won’t see Adley who is going to be 24 in February old enough to be Tatis and Sotos dad till May so the O’s can have another year of control. Severino is not a starter on any team in baseball.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2021 at 8:58 am

      Bruce, as I’ve written, service time manipulation is a critical issue in CBA talks. It’s possible, perhaps probable, that the issue may become moot.

      • Phil770

        October 12, 2021 at 4:15 pm

        Hopefully, the arbitration process will change also. There is no way that Severino and Means should be paid the same amount of money. Service time manipulation is a problem, but so is the binary arbitration process.

    • Orial

      October 12, 2021 at 10:02 am

      I’m assuming Rutschman will be the opening day catcher unless there’s a work stoppage.

  5. Bman

    October 12, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Severinos gone. Cumberland, Ciuffo have a chance as back up to Rutschman next year? Maybe Wynns, or free agent? Mancini will be the big question. Going to be 30 years old. Sign and trade next summer? Or trade outright this winter? Or who knows maybe they hold on to him for a few more years. Can’t see them trading Santander now after a down year.

  6. Boog Robinson Robinson

    October 12, 2021 at 9:53 am

    For all the grief Fry & Scott get around here, resigning them for roughly a million apiece, what is there to think about? Sign ’em up for another go round.

    And for gosh sake … don’t trade Santander. Why? To save paying him 3.7 million? C’mon now.

    • Orial

      October 12, 2021 at 10:04 am

      You know it’s gonna happen– that “tweak” I was referring to will happen as soon as they(Scott/Fry) sign elsewhere.

    • Icterus fan

      October 12, 2021 at 2:16 pm

      I agree about Fry and Scott. They have talent – can they put it all together? – one more year may be telling. I’m sick of seeing pitchers leave here after struggling to see them flourish on another club.

      Santander? I’m not sold, although he has shown glimpses of undeniable talent. Not sure if it’s the nagging injuries or a lack of “want to” with him. He looks underwhelmed all the time, but that doesn’t detract from his talent.

      • Buzz1979

        October 12, 2021 at 11:11 pm

        Not Fry, he was horrible after July, over 8!!!!!!! ERA!

    • DcOsfan

      October 12, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      BRR – agree on all points basically no brained territory

    • Buzz1979

      October 12, 2021 at 11:10 pm

      Fry? You must be joking, ERA over 8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! after July!

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 7:48 am

      Will cost you next to nothing, most O’s pitchers era was less than impressive since July…lol…go O’s…

  7. willmiranda

    October 12, 2021 at 10:04 am

    If the O’s balk at paying their number one starter $3.1M, it bodes ill for anyone expecting them to sign a functioning free agent pitcher. I still don’t feel comfortable that the CBA will get done by the end of November.

  8. Orioles20

    October 12, 2021 at 11:20 am

    There’s no way Severino should be back. That’s way to much for him. Lopez I would bring back. Same with Fry and Scott. You take out Fry’s number against the rays in September and he didn’t pitch that bad. Mancini is where it’s going to get dicey. I get we all love Mancini and his story but at the end of the day it’s a a business and Elias has to do what he believes is the best for the team. Mountcastle made improvements at first base and Mancini dh much more down the stretch. Santander seems to be injury prone and although you’d be selling low I’d trade him. Stowers will be ready next year.

  9. NormOs

    October 12, 2021 at 2:12 pm

    Here’s a novel idea:forget about the infamous “waiver wire” for a year Mr. Elias, because you’ve already proved that the WW means NOT TRADEABLE. Why don’t we try going after TOP 50 FREE AGENTS for a change. You may find that “The M boys” + Hays and Santander can use the help at 2nd, SS, and especially THE BULLPEN. Oh, and really you shouldn’t be afraid to spend a lot of money since that’s the only way baseball is played today and, most importantly, dispite the poor mouthing, the MONEY IS THERE!

    • WorldlyView

      October 13, 2021 at 1:44 am

      O Norm, You’re such a dreamer. Spend money on pitching and middle infielders to make our favorite team less embarrassing and more enjoyable to watch? Don’t bet on it. Some would have you believe it would be a waste of money. Don’t be like me: you need to embrace the hard-core optimists who have posted many happy comments about the O’s being much improved as early as next year. They apparently have the the analytic skills to see several of the promising prospects at AA making the big leap to Major League excellence just a few months hence. So bringing in some medium-priced, but proven free agents would not only be a waste of money, it would also be an immediate impediment to the development of our breakthrough stars of 2022. Our wiser co-commenters have also told us that no respectable pitcher would be willing to pitch in the short fences of OP, no matter how much money would be offered. Maybe the optimists have had visions of the Bosox, Yanks, and Rays imploding. Also accept the (perhaps contradictory) predictions of some that ownership will spend big for free agents as soon as the team is competitive. Finally, you should embrace a new influx of waiver wire wonders (who have no choice where they play). The Rays are overloaded with pitchers, and surely we can get healthy from their castoffs. Dream big and you could envision the return of Chaz Roe. So, I urge you to wise up and accept the wise counsel of our better informed colleagues when they tell us that the Great Rebuild will take time. Be quiet and be patient. Wait for 2023.

      • NormOs

        October 13, 2021 at 2:48 pm

        WV, I understand what you’re saying, the problem is, old Norm will be 90 in June so you think I have time for Elias to keep sitting on his fat ass doing nothing to improve this team? You think that bullpen is going to be MLB ready by ’23, not sitting on the money it won’t! And yes I believe pitchers will come to Camden Yards for MONEY no matter how short the fences are. I’m afraid it’s just the money and if it’s there, game over. And finally, I’ll never be quiet and I’m fresh out of patience.

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 6:36 am

      Hysterical WV…loved it…go O’s….

  10. Birdman

    October 12, 2021 at 2:39 pm

    Mancini has averaged 26 HRs and 76 RBI per year, over four full seasons with Orioles … To those in a hurry to jettison Mancini, exactly who do the Orioles have to replace him as a dependable, productive DH (assuming Mountcastle starts at 1st Base next year)?

  11. Baltimore Castaway

    October 12, 2021 at 3:17 pm

    Going to be a difficult Arbitration Signing period for the Orioles.

    Means is the only sure thing w signing him to a longer term extension. He is their best player. Period.

    I would not want to be the one deciding whether to extend Mancini. He showed the ill-effects of his treatment after the AS break.

    It really hurts the team’s ability to trade guys like Fry, Scott, Severino since they played so poorly down the stretch…. they picked a terrible time to play down….

    • CalsPals

      October 12, 2021 at 6:37 pm

      Means may be their best pitcher, he’s not their best player….go O’s…

      • Baltimore Castaway

        October 12, 2021 at 6:49 pm

        The Hell he isn’t…. he is by far their best player as we correspond here.

        Hopefully he wont be their best player into 2022, as some of their best prospects begin to matriculate through into OPACY.

        While I’m on this subject though I still would like to hear from someone (anyone) about what Means did to greatly improve his skills last off-season. He did this on his own, he paid for the coaching, he went the extra mile to make himself an above-average MLB Starting Pitcher. Sure would be nice to see people like Hunter Harvey, Yusniel Diaz (who are both way richer than John Means) and Anthony Santander take things upon themselves to move the needle and become very good contributors to a team that still desperately needs their skills…I guess these youngsters need things handed to them.

        • OriolesNumber1Fan

          October 12, 2021 at 11:12 pm

          In the off season 2019, John Means turned from fringe pitching prospect to staff ace and also runner-up in American League Rookie of the Year voting after a winter spent at P3. Also known as the Premier Pitching & Performance in St. Louis, Missouri. With the urging from the Orioles Director of pitching and now pitching coach Chris Holt who is a big supporter, this is a center that offers personalized baseball training to athletes across the Midwest with the goal of providing instruction and individualized strength training. This is where John picked up a couple of miles per hour on his fastball and developed his secondary pitches.
          I remember reading John said the following: “We do some of the reverse throws and some of the basic plyo (plyometrics, a type of muscle training) ball work, just to kind of strengthen and train my arm path a little bit and basically keep that tuned up the way we want it to.”
          I just wish more of the Oriole younger pitchers would include this in their off season workout and training! Dean Kremer would benefit from this with his issues of commanding his pitches. Actually, this would help all of them tremendously if they just took to it like fish to water. To advance their careers this program would increase their velocity, improve their command and sharpness of their pitches!!! Would be a win, win, all the way around.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            October 12, 2021 at 11:24 pm

            Just to be clear, and specific, it was the off-season before the 2019 season.

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 7:39 am

      Like Means, best “player”, don’t think so, Mullins Hank Aaron nominee, AS starter, O’s first 30/30, Means Era 5.31 since AS break, O’s best pitcher, agree, player, nope….go O’s…

      • Baltimore Castaway

        October 13, 2021 at 7:51 am

        Who would provide a greater return in talent, Means or Mullins? I say Means. It’s an opinion.

        That’s all.

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 13, 2021 at 8:52 am

      Mike, as a huge admirer of Means, the Orioles would get a great return if they unwisely put him on the market. They would get an even larger haul for Mullins.

      They won’t do either, but Mullins plays a premium position, has an extra year under team control—under the current CBA, and is an excellent everyday player.

      • Baltimore Castaway

        October 13, 2021 at 11:33 am


        I will respectfully defer to your take on this. Am also not suggesting that they should trade either of these fine players and men at any point in the near future.

        It does bear mentioning here though that certain players who have been around the team for the last couple of years who are still young, like; Fry, Scott, Santander, Hunter Harvey, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, DJ Stewart, and Yusniel Diaz present little if any trade value because their play in the recent past pretty-much (totally) sucks…. Another “Turd in the Punchbowl” for Elias to have to deal w in this re-build.

        That’s right—I said it!

  12. dlgruber1

    October 12, 2021 at 9:26 pm

    I googled this but couldn’t find an answer. Isn’t there a maximum number of players a team can lose to free agency?

    • Rich Dubroff

      October 12, 2021 at 9:42 pm


    • dlgruber1

      October 12, 2021 at 10:50 pm

      Not the answer I wanted Rich but thanks anyway. So the O’s, already the worst team in MLB now has to roll the dice on which players to leave eligible. I gotta believe that is what Elias most difficult job is.

  13. Buzz1979

    October 12, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    How long do we have to put up with this Ryan Ripken farce? It is so obvious!

    • CalsPals

      October 13, 2021 at 6:38 am

      2132 times now, c’mon man…go O’s…

  14. Kangaroo Court

    October 13, 2021 at 7:02 am

    I think it would be in the best interest of the Orioles to hold on to Mancini, both from a fan base point of view as well as a talent and clubhouse point of view. I know I am beating the same old drum here , but Severino and Stewart should be traded maybe packaged with Scott or Fry to get at least a good prospect in return. I am not sold on keeping Santander either. I haven’t been impressed with his foot speed in the outfield or his base running. I think he’s been a huge plus for the team for the past couple of years, but it’s time to start this rebuild at the Major League level. You should definitely sign Means because he can offer some stability to the staff especially if you start to plug in even more younger arms to the rotation.
    While I think Wynns could be a placeholder for Rutschman when he arrives, if there is a gritty clubhouse catcher on the market such as Suzuki or Gomes that can be brought in for a year or two, that might be a better path.

    • Icterus fan

      October 13, 2021 at 5:16 pm

      Keep Fry and Scott for one more year (you heard me Buzz). Say bye bye to Stewart and I reckon keep Santander for another season. He’s an anomaly – m has skills but doesn’t seem to have much fire in his gut. My perception is that he appears to be aloof and disinterested much of the time.
      Mancini, even though aging, should stay. Maybe he’d take a 2 year deal or something. He is such a fan favorite and much respected by his teammates. Yes, I know it’s a business, but he’s been pretty darn good over the last few years.

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