Lyles' addition bolsters Orioles' starting rotation; What comes after the lockout ends -

Rich Dubroff

Lyles’ addition bolsters Orioles’ starting rotation; What comes after the lockout ends

Photo Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Whenever the lockout ends, the Orioles will officially add right-hander Jordan Lyles to their 40-man roster. The news of Lyles’ agreement with the Orioles came around the time the lockout was imposed, and he’ll have to take a physical to cement the deal when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached.

At 31, Lyles will become the second-oldest player on the 40-man roster. Reliever Cole Sulser, who turns 32 on March 12th, is the oldest.

Lyles’ reported deal is the most expensive handed out by executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias in his three years with the Orioles.

He receives a $5.5 million salary and $500,000 signing bonus plus a $1 million buyout for 2022 as well as an $11 million option for 2023.

The option doesn’t seem likely to be paid by the Orioles. If he has a strong first half, he could become a trade chip, and $11 million could be reasonable for a contending team in 2023.

Elias gave free-agent infielders Maikel Franco and Freddy Galvis $250,000 bonuses if they were traded. Galvis was traded to Philadelphia. Franco was released in August.

The $7 million price tag might seem high, but Lyles was eager to get a deal done before the lockout began, and the Orioles were looking to add a veteran starter and knew that at this stage they needed pay well for Lyles, who was 10-13 with a 5.15 ERA in 2021.

Some have suggested that Elias was preparing for a possible salary floor in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in his pursuit of Lyles.

Lyles worked 180 innings in 2021. The Orioles haven’t had a starter work more than 180 innings since Kevin Gausman threw 186 2/3 innings in 2017.


His scariest stat was that he led the majors in home runs allowed with 38 in 2021. In a homer-friendly home ballpark, that isn’t ideal, but the Orioles need starters who can go deeper in games than they did in 2021.

With Lyles and John Means, the Orioles will have three starting jobs up for grabs. Perhaps another veteran free-agent starting candidate or two will sign once the lockout ends.

There are no locks and many candidates. Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells and Bruce Zimmermann are the likeliest contenders.

Kyle Bradish and Kevin Smith will be in spring training because they’re on the 40-man roster for the first time, but they’re expected to start at Triple-A Norfolk, where they struggled last season.

Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in baseball, will be in major league spring training for the first time, but he’s expected to need some time at Triple-A after strong work at High-A Aberdeen and Double-A Bowie.

DL Hall is also on the 40-man roster for the first time, but after losing most of his season at Bowie because of an elbow injury, he needs time in the minors but could find his way to the Orioles in 2022.

What comes after the lockout? Once the lockout ends, the Orioles will have lots of work to do. The Rule 5 draft will provide them with a player or two. They need to sign a pair of catchers because they don’t have any on the 40-man roster, and even though they’ve picked up Rougned Odor to possibly play second, more infielders and perhaps a veteran outfielder on a minor league deal are possible.

The Orioles can sign players to minor league deals during the lockout. Just before the lockout, they added another right-handed pitcher, Denyi Reyes, who had pitched in the Boston Red Sox organization. Reyes is 44-21 with a 2.92 ERA in six seasons but hasn’t pitched above Double-A.

It will be interesting to see how active the market is for second- and third-tier players during the lockout. Will they accept minor league deals because they’re the only ones who can be offered? Or will they wait until after the lockout and hope that they can swing a major league deal?

While some of the top free agents signed in the days leading up to the lockout, many are without a team for 2022 and beyond.

Of’s top free agents — Carlos Correa (1st), Freddie Freeman (3), Kris Bryant (4), Trevor Story (8), Nick Castellanos (10), Kyle Schwarber (15), Carlos Rodon (18) — are still available. The timing for the resumption of free-agent signing  isn’t known, nor if there will be a salary floor for teams.

The Winter Meetings, scheduled for Orlando, Florida, have been canceled but the minor league meetings will go on, and so will the Hall of Fame voting for the Early Baseball and Golden Days Era committees. Those votes are scheduled to be announced at 6 p.m. Sunday on the MLB Network.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. jimcarter

    December 3, 2021 at 7:17 am

    It really doesn’t matter how a run scores. What matters is how MANY. That’s where Lyles excels most, allowing the most earned runs in the majors for the last 2 seasons. Regarding innings pitched, he racked up 263.6, but that feat took 4 years. From 2015 through 2018, he averaged 65.9 innings per season. Despite the 180 innings in ’21, he should have plenty of gas left in the tank.

    • BenSch

      December 3, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Hang on, “allowing the most earned runs in the majors for the last 2 seasons? ” How is that good?

      • jimcarter

        December 3, 2021 at 2:17 pm

        I’m being sarcastic in response to those who try to sidestep these numbers while focusing on Lyle’s total innings pitched last season. Bottom line, he was healthy in 2021. That’s his only selling point.

    • BenSch

      December 3, 2021 at 7:41 pm

      Heard. I guess he can eat innings for us.

    • Bmoreravens3

      December 3, 2021 at 8:28 pm

      Yeah, a perfect tank piece. So we can continue this never ending rebuild

  2. Orioles20

    December 3, 2021 at 8:03 am

    The rotation is going to be bad until Rodriguez gets called up. Means and Lyles could be solid but what follows them might not be. Zimmermann missed three months so we don’t really know what he is yet. Akin is Akin. Wells and Lowther only did good against bad teams and got lit up against good teams. And Kremer looked lost at times. So really if you could sign one or two more starters that might be good. Also what good does an inning eater do when the first sign of trouble Hyde will take them out?

  3. Orial

    December 3, 2021 at 8:05 am

    If Kyle’s keeps the BB’s,hits,and players off base in general down the HR’s allowed my be bearable. The mad free agent frenzy Tuesday leading up to the lockout was refreshing,entertaining and maybe something that the MLB powers that be should try to find a way to permanently implement. Spice it up a little.

  4. Jammer Daniels 5

    December 3, 2021 at 8:58 am

    Rich looking at the Orioles pitching for the 2022 season says another 100 plus losses in Birdland.

  5. VegasOriole

    December 3, 2021 at 9:59 am

    I guess we are giving up already

  6. OrangeDNA

    December 3, 2021 at 10:00 am

    I see this as a placeholder signing that’s about a usable starter that should eat innings. If he pitches 180 inning for us in ’22, that’s a VERY successful one year signing regardless of stats. If he doesn’t log innings… bad signing. But this has no possibility of a 4 year Ubaldo mistake, because it’s for just one season.

    IMO, we have one more full season (’22) before we can officially see if a core is in place in ’23…. It certainly seems that is about to happen based on our #1 system…. then you start spending. I have never seen an Oriole Farm system stacked like this in my life, nothing even close to it in the 50 years I’ve followed. plus we have the #1 again this Summer.

    There is no free agent pitching signing that is realistic for this franchise until a core is in place. We simply are not winning games until that happens first. No decent FA will come here until its an attractive team.

    IMO, ’23 is looking very interesting.

    • JerseyO

      December 3, 2021 at 3:03 pm

      Well said and spot on.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      December 3, 2021 at 7:19 pm

      Totally agree OrangeDNA!!! Hopefully there’s no delay or shortage in the number of games played in the 22 season because of the lockout or maybe the signs start to show gets pushed back further, but you’re right. With only 60 games played in 2020, and because of that, the innings limit the Orioles put on their young pitchers this past year (2021), next year needs to be a full season IMO for the pitchers to start to show what they have. And hopefully, this coming year we will see either Grayson Rodriguez and/or maybe DL Hall at some point and if so I believe Jordan Lyles will be traded at the trading deadline, especially if he has a first half like he finished in 2021.
      And you’re right again, the Oriole Farm system is stacked like NEVER, EVER BEFORE and that’s because the Orioles NEVER had the number 1 farm system before!!! Plus adding another number 1 round of picks like you stated in this next years draft and more overseas signings will also help back fill the system, and this will also be really great!!! So with all these position minor league players coming and some pitchers already here and more coming, they will need to start showing some signs and 2023 sounds about right. And once they’re here in ’23 and perform, we will see the Orioles spend. Hopefully with no injuries or setbacks to their core, I can see Mike Elias going out and spending or trading to get the Orioles a couple of real top line starting pitchers and hopefully a true ace will be one of those!!!

    • Bmoreravens3

      December 3, 2021 at 8:38 pm

      Very Successful? Get off the juice. If we allocated some money towards some good pitching this for a few years we can compete (as long as Hyde can manage well which I’m still not sold on). Kershaw & rodon are still available plus if hall & Rodriguez start playing this year & we add some free agent bullpen depth we can be a dangerous team. Again this is dependent on how good Hyde can coach as well

      • JerseyO

        December 4, 2021 at 6:14 pm

        Kershaw and Rodon??
        For who?

    • Bmoreravens3

      December 5, 2021 at 10:02 pm

      For money. They’re free agents.

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 3, 2021 at 11:20 am

    Has the process begun?

    • CalsPals

      December 4, 2021 at 7:17 am

      It was going to start last Wednesday but the lockout got in the way, damn…go O’s…

  8. NormOs

    December 3, 2021 at 11:24 am

    “He led the Majors in homers allowed” so naturally, the Boy Genius brings him to Camden Yards and only paying him 7Mil, what a steal! You can’t make this stuff up! One thing we can be sure of…………110 LOSSES minimum. BTW his 5.15 ERA means the O’s will ‘ONLY’ have to average 7 (seven) runs a game when he pitches. Again, what a steal!

    • WorldlyView

      December 3, 2021 at 4:36 pm

      Norm, If we sign a catcher, an average of 7 runs in every game is a ‘gimme’.

  9. 33d St

    December 3, 2021 at 11:28 am

    Coming off of career high in innings, he’s a strong candidate for an injury. At least we are seeing some effort to find a guy who can labor his way through four or five innings every five days. A little surprised by the price tag given how cheaply we were able to obtain similarly poor performances from our guys last year.

  10. Orioleschatter

    December 3, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Another gopher ball king……great.

  11. Buzz1979

    December 3, 2021 at 7:20 pm

    Focus on his strong finish, people!

    • Bmoreravens3

      December 3, 2021 at 8:42 pm

      I hope so. He was good in Milwaukee but that’s it. Now he’s pitching in Camden yards smh

  12. Buzz1979

    December 3, 2021 at 8:54 pm

    The bandbox! I remember how Hellickson reacted when traded here, acted like he’d rather go to prison!!!

    • JerseyO

      December 4, 2021 at 6:19 pm

      You’d think that with the updates the Maryland Authority is planning to do on OPACY, they would just move the wall back from left center to right center.
      It’s not like those thousand or so seats would be missed

    • CalsPals

      December 4, 2021 at 7:44 pm

      What updates?…go O’s…

  13. Bmore

    December 4, 2021 at 7:15 am

    It’s the same story with the Orioles every all season it’s like a freaking rerun

    • CalsPals

      December 4, 2021 at 4:13 pm

      Groundhogs day in December…go O’s…

  14. Buzz1979

    December 5, 2021 at 8:04 pm

    Don’t get excited about the REDSKINS, the only NFC East team going to the playoffs are the Cowboys!

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      December 7, 2021 at 2:09 pm

      Damn straight !! How bout them Cowboys!

  15. 54orioles

    December 7, 2021 at 2:44 pm

    For the life of me, I can not understand how a pitcher with an 5.00 ERA can be worth 7 million a year. What’s worse is that he has match this note worthy era multiple times. Add in the fact that he is on the downside of his or any other pitchers career. What am I missing?

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