As free agency began, the Orioles outrighted catcher Pedro Severino to Triple-A Norfolk. Severino, the Orioles’ regular catcher the past three seasons, could have made $3.1 million in arbitration, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.
Severino, who hit .248 with 11 home runs and 46 RBIs and a .690 OPS, will elect free agency.
The Orioles also outrighted right-handed pitchers Marcos Diplán and Conner Greene. Diplán was 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA, and Greene was 1-3 with a 7.71 ERA. They also cleared outright waivers and can become free agents.
On Wednesday, 160 players, including two Orioles, left-hander Fernando Abad and right-hander Matt Harvey, became free agents.
The moves combined with the loss of right-hander Eric Hanhold on waivers to the Pittsburgh Pirates, that leaves the Orioles with 30 players on their 40-man roster. Hanhold had a 6.97 ERA in 10 games.
Severino, who made $1.825 million in 2021, will likely have multiple suitors eager to use him as a backup catcher. His departure means the only catcher on the 40-man roster is catcher Nick Ciuffo, who played in only two games for the Orioles
There are many familiar names on the list of free agents. The Atlanta Braves, who won the World Series on Tuesday night, could lose Series Most Valuable Player Jorge Soler, first baseman Freddie Freeman and outfielder Eddie Rosario. The Houston Astros’ most prominent free agent is shortstop Carlos Correa.
Many recent Orioles are on the list: Mychal Givens (Cincinnati), Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb (Los Angeles Angels), Jonathan Villar (New York Mets), Freddy Galvis (Philadelphia), Wade LeBlanc, T.J. McFarland, Andrew Miller (St. Louis), Kevin Gausman (San Francisco), Nelson Cruz, Tommy Hunter, Chaz Roe (Tampa Bay) and Gerardo Parra (Washington).
More free agents will be added on December 2nd when players who aren’t offered 2022 contracts are announced.
The Orioles will not pursue big-ticket free agents, and it will be interesting to see if they offer many major league contracts.
There are a number of areas they’d like to shore up. They have a number of internal candidates for starters, but I think that signing a pair of veteran middle-inning relievers would be an excellent investment. If the Orioles retain Paul Fry, Jorge López and Tanner Scott, who are eligible for arbitration, the addition of a couple of experienced relievers could make a difference.
I’m sure they’ll sign at least one, and perhaps two veterans to compete for a starting role. Harvey could be in the picture but, if that happens, I think it would be a signing late in the winter.
With Severino gone, a veteran catcher is going to be needed to back up top prospect Adley Rutschman.
One interesting name is Sandy León. The 33-year-old has played with four teams — Washington, Boston, Cleveland and Miami — in a 10-year career. León has never been a regular and has never played 90 games in a season. He’s not a threat offensively. León has a lifetime average of .212 and, in 2021, hit just .183 with four home runs and 14 RBIs.
But he’s a plus defender with a lifetime 5.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and has thrown out 33 percent of runners attempting to steal.
The Orioles will also be in the market for infielders and perhaps a veteran outfielder. Although the Orioles have plenty of home-grown outfielders and some interesting young players, Robert Neustrom and Kyle Stowers at Triple-A, they could use another veteran presence in the clubhouse.
In 2017 and 2018, the Orioles signed Craig Gentry, who provided solid defense and speed. Perhaps Gentry was an older version of Ryan McKenna, who played well at times last season. If there was a 2021 version of Gentry, perhaps the Orioles would be interested.
Last offseason, the Orioles added Galvis, Maikel Franco and Yolmer Sánchez, who was claimed on waivers. Reuniting with Galvis, who was a solid veteran wouldn’t be a bad idea if he doesn’t return to Philadelphia.
Franco and Sánchez, a 2019 Gold Glove winner at second base, were disappointments, and Sánchez was released late in spring training. Franco was let go in August. Both signed with Atlanta and played with Gwinnett, neither playing well enough to earn a promotion with the Braves.
Remembering Tom Matte: It has been a difficult week for fans of the Baltimore Colts. Longtime middle linebacker and center Dick Szymanski, who served as the team’s general manager, died last week at 89. On Tuesday, Tom Matte, the great halfback, died at his Towson home at 82.
Matte played 12 seasons but was best known as the Colts’ emergency quarterback in 1965. Johnny Unitas and Gary Cuozzo were injured in successive weeks, and Matte, wearing a wristband with the plays on it, stepped in and nearly led the Colts to an NFL title.
For younger fans, Matte was known more as a broadcaster. He called games for the University of Maryland, the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League, and the Ravens.
Matte was a warm and engaging man who made friends wherever he went.
Great news: Trey Mancini has announced his engagement to Sara Perlman. Best wishes for many years of health and happiness to both.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions early next week. Please put yours in the comments below or email them to: [email protected].