Severino's time with Orioles is up as Rutschman prepares to take over -

Rich Dubroff

Severino’s time with Orioles is up as Rutschman prepares to take over

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Only one player was active for each Oriole game during the past three seasons, and that was catcher Pedro Severino. On Wednesday, the Orioles assigned the catcher to Triple-A Norfolk, and he’ll soon be a free agent.

Severino will be replaced by the top prospect in baseball, Adley Rutschman, who was the overall No. 1 pick in June 2019. Severino, who could have made more than $3 million as a backup had the Orioles offered him a contract, will look for a new baseball home in 2022.

Oriole fans were often frustrated with Severino as was Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer, who criticized him on telecasts.

Severino’s offensive numbers weren’t bad. In 2019, he hit .249 with a .740 OPS. In 2020, it was .250 with a .710 OPS. In 2021, he hit .248 with a .690 OPS. He also hit 11 home runs and drove in 46 runs.

He could be terribly inconsistent. In the 60-game season of 2020, Severino was hitting .309 at the end of August but hit just .159 in September and didn’t drive in a single run.

The Orioles signed him to a $1.825 million contract for 2021, avoiding arbitration. They didn’t have much choice. Rutschman had played only 37 professional games before this year, and they didn’t want to spend big money on a placeholder. Because the Orioles aren’t a contender and Rutschman is on his way, big-name catchers wouldn’t have been eager to sign on.

Severino outlasted the player the Orioles thought would be their future catcher, Chance Sisco. The team gave Sisco, who was a second- round choice in 2013, every opportunity before cutting ties with him in June after he hit .199 in 196 games from 2017-2021,

Sisco was claimed on waivers by the New York Mets. He played in just five games, hitting .111 (1-for-9), and hit only .198 in 34 games for Triple-A Syracuse. New York let him go after the season.

In 2013, the Orioles drafted Sisco and Austin Wynns, who was assigned to Norfolk late last month and is now a free agent. Wynns backed up Severino in 2019 and 2021.


Although Severino’s offense wasn’t bad, fans were annoyed by his defense, though he had a positive defensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in each of his three seasons with the Orioles. Severino threw out just 23 percent of runners attempting to steal on him this season (9 of 40). From August 30th through the end of the season, he threw out just two of 14.

Pitchers threw 66 wild pitches in his 109 games and, for the second straight season, Severino was tied with the leaders in passed balls. In 2020, his five passed balls tied for the major league lead. This year, he tied with New York’s Gary Sánchez and Tampa Bay’s Mike Zunino for the American League lead with 10.

Good catchers are hard to find, and good backup catchers may be harder to find. With the surprise retirement of San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, that makes the few free-agent catchers an even more marketable commodity.

It would not have made economic sense for the Orioles to pay $3 million for a backup catcher. If Rutschman plays regularly, a backup might catch only once or twice a week, and that probably won’t entice a veteran looking to extend his career.

The Orioles knew they couldn’t trade Severino. Another team wasn’t going to acquire a backup and pay him that well, but once the December 2nd deadline for offering contracts comes and goes, the market for Severino could be healthy.

For now, Nick Ciuffo, who played in just two late-season games, is the only catcher on the 40-man roster. The Orioles could wait until later in the offseason to sign a veteran to be Rutschman’s understudy once the market settles.

Severino was outgoing and when times were good, he’d joke about this being “Sevy time.”

“Sevy time” is over, and soon it will be Rutschman time.

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

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    November 5, 2021 at 7:08 am

    Never say never! Wecome Severino back with open, humbled arms!


  2. HmmmImNotSoSureAboutThat

    November 5, 2021 at 7:19 am

    Arizona Fall League Highlights

    Greg Cullen stats are looking good 0.310/0.389/0.586 OPS 0.975, plus no errors in the field and an amazing R/G of 5.11 at 2B!

    Under appreciated reliever Vespi not only has great hair, he has appeared in 7 of the Solar Sox 18 games with 10.2 IP 12 SO only 2 BB a tidy 2.53 ERA and 1.031 WHIP.

    Making a case for the 40 man roster?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      November 5, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Nick Vespi is a legitimate pitching prospect.

      No reason he won’t make the team this Spring.

  3. Mtairyordge

    November 5, 2021 at 7:59 am

    Change is inevitable

    • Icterus fan

      November 5, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      The only constant is change. Pretty safe comment.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 5, 2021 at 8:15 am

    Rich, you and I will never agree on this one, but I disagree that the Orioles gave Sisco every opportunity before cutting ties with him. If that were true, he would have had the at bats that Severino accumulated instead of Pedro. Playing every 4th day is not my idea of “every opportunity”.

    I’m not a big believer in the idea of a team “ruining a player’s confidence”, but if I were, this would be a text book case of it.

    I know you’re going to come back that he didn’t perform when he was given a chance, but he was never handed the reigns as I believe would have best served the player as well as the team. Just my opinion.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 5, 2021 at 8:17 am

      And oh yeah … buh bye Pedro. It’ll Venice to have a catcher that can catch a baseball. Jim Palmer knows what he’s talking about.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      November 5, 2021 at 8:18 am

      It will be nice … dang spell check

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 8:37 am

      Ken, if a team ruins a player’s confidence, he should perform better elsewhere. If not, he wasn’t much of a player. Sisco’s stats in Triple-A with the Mets weren’t good, either. I’m sure someone else will give him an opportunity because he’s still young, 26, and is a left-handed hitting catcher. I hope he does well.

      By the way, it’s handed the “reins,” not “reigns.”

      • willmiranda

        November 5, 2021 at 11:11 am

        Speaking of English, wouldn’t it be unusual for a veteran to “understudy” a rookie. I know using “backup” gets repetitious, but hiring a veteran to learn from Rutschman doesn’t seem quite accurate.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 5, 2021 at 5:05 pm

        I stand corrected Rich. Reins it is.

        And like I stated, I’m not a big believer in players having their confidence ruined by outside influences. I’m sticking with my story… Chance is a big leaguer.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 12:13 pm

      Will, an understudy is a stand-in, and that’s what any No. 2 to Rutschman will be.

      • willmiranda

        November 5, 2021 at 1:51 pm

        Every “stand-in” is not an understudy. An understudy, as the word implies, learns the role by observing the more experienced performer. I don’t question that Rutschman will be the starter and star or that the other player will not be competing with him. He would not, however, be learning the role from him. Sorry to quibble, but you jerked my reins.

        • Rich Dubroff

          November 5, 2021 at 2:57 pm

          I didn’t want to reign on your parade, Will.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            November 5, 2021 at 5:07 pm

            “Reign” ….are you making sport of me now Rich?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      November 5, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Chance Cisco was a fine Baseball Prospect until he got caught in the clutches of Grumpy Old Buck—who did nothing to support the kid and didn’t give him a modicum of support….a lot of young players take time to fully realize their potential—wasn’t going to happen under Showalter’s watch–shame on you Buck.

      I still believe that we as fans will never know and understand the depth of the dysfunction those few short years ago between the Owner, the GM, the Manager and the Wonderboy Juicer former OF’er from California….disgraceful. Shame on all of them!

      As fans we certainly deserve a lot better and a lot more….a whole lot better.

  5. ptjhu

    November 5, 2021 at 8:17 am

    So maybe the Orioles should use the first pick in the 2022 draft on Georgia Tech Catcher Kevin Parada? The kid can hit, and could split the catching duties with Adley Rutschman?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 8:37 am

      This is a good question, and I’ll answer it in the mailbag.

  6. Orial

    November 5, 2021 at 8:33 am

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if Severino were to replace Posey in SF? Of course that is very unlikely. Speaking of Posey–just read that O’s could have had him in the 2008 draft but took Brian Matusz one pick ahead of him. Is it out of the realm that Severino,having no one signing him,would take a cut($700,000) and come back as Rutschman’s backup? I knew Sanchez,like Severino,had trouble with passed balls but Zunnino? Thought Zunnino was Gold Glove caliber. Maybe pass balls is more of a reflection on the style of pitchers than on the catchers abilities.

    • ptjhu

      November 5, 2021 at 8:35 am

      I think one of the SF Giants’ top prospects is Catcher Joey Bart.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Al, I think Severino will have a number of attractive offers as a backup, but I think this will not be one of them.

  7. Orioles20

    November 5, 2021 at 9:09 am

    Severino is the worst catcher I’ve ever seen. He makes Gary Sanchez look like a gold glover. Why they stuck with him so long idk. I’d rather seen the orioles get someone like Jeff Mathis who is a great defender. He’s not going to hit much but neither did Severino so I’d take the defense over the bat. I also think Severino is responsible for some of the struggles we saw from the pitchers.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 10:13 am

      The ERA when Severino caught pitchers was 5.38. For Austin Wynns, it was 7.12. In Chance Sisco’s games, it was 5.64, and for the two games Ciuffo caught, it was 5.82.

  8. Jammer Daniels 5

    November 5, 2021 at 11:54 am

    good move for all involved.

  9. Jammer Daniels 5

    November 5, 2021 at 11:56 am

    The Orioles need catchers who help our bad pitching, Sevi was hurting our bad pitching.

  10. Nellie

    November 5, 2021 at 1:25 pm

    Why all of the hyperventilating over someone who won’t even be here next year? What a waste of time.
    If we are talking about a cheap solid offensive backup that plays multiple positions adequately, how about Willians Astudillo?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 5, 2021 at 1:45 pm

      Astudillo isn’t even eligible for arbitration, and not a free agent, Nellie. He rarely catches, only four times this year.

  11. Icterus fan

    November 5, 2021 at 8:47 pm

    Astudillo would provide plenty of entertainment, though. His “round peg in a square hole” hustle is ten fold that of DJ Stewart.
    This guy is a big time gamer. Just sayin.

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