It’s time for our monthly mailbag, and we’ve gotten lots of excellent questions. I’ll answer some today and more on Tuesday. Questions are edited for length and clarity.
Question: Why are Major League Baseball management and the Players Union so stubborn about the issues that prevent them from reaching a fair and equitable Collective Bargaining Agreement? It seems to me it is in everyone’s best interest to put their egos in their pocket, make some compromises, and “play ball.” What glory is there in holding out for the last buck, if the result is that there are no bucks in anyone’s pocket, because there is no season? Grow up gentlemen! From: Cathryn Girard
Answer: This was a popular question. Greg K wants to know what the main sticking points are. @Bmore_history wants to know if the lockout will delay Opening Day.
Cathryn, players and owners are very competitive, and that’s why they’ve been successful, but sometimes that can be a detriment. Obviously, you and I could quickly agree on a compromise, and it’s frustrating that the players and owners haven’t been able to find one yet.
Greg, the major complaint the players have is that with the game getting younger, they want to see the younger players get paid earlier in their career. They’d like to see the timetable for free agency, which is six years, and arbitration, which is three, shortened. They’d also like to see teams forced to spend more on players, a salary floor, but they don’t want a salary cap. They’d also like to see teams like the Orioles, who have had poor records in the last four seasons, not be rewarded with high draft picks for consistent losing records.
I don’t think Opening Day will be impacted.
Question: Have plans to visit spring training for the first time ever this year. Not happening is it? From: Jeffrey Walter via Facebook
Answer: Not so fast, Jeffrey. There will be spring training, but it could be truncated. It’s possible there could be a three- or four-week spring training instead of a six-week one. We should know more in two or three weeks.
Question: There has been a lot of talk about adjusting the baseball draft process because of perceived tanking by some major league teams. Is there validity to this perception? What would the proposed draft process look like? From: Mike T, Phoenix, Arizona via email
Answer: Mike, many people think that losing is rewarded with the current system, and the Orioles have benefited from it. I think it would be a good idea to take away a possible incentive for losing, and I’d like to see a draft lottery, like the NBA has, for all the teams that don’t qualify for the playoffs.
I’m confident there will be a change to the draft system that prevents teams that have chosen in the top five in consecutive years from choosing there repeatedly.
Question: What is the situation for scouting, recruiting of Cuban players? Do they have to defect first? Is there an underground railroad? Or is the Cuban government now somewhat cooperative, presumably for a fee? From: Will Miranda via BaltimoreBaseball.com comments
Answer: Will, the United States and Cuba don’t have diplomatic relations, so players must defect if they want to play in the major leagues. They have gone to Haiti, Mexico and elsewhere, and then the courting and signing process begins.
Question: What do you think the starting rotation for the Orioles will be in 2022? Is a trade possible? From: @SJ69569741
Answer: I also have a question from @JTP1224 asking about the starting rotation in 2023. Let’s put John Means and Jordan Lyles in the starting rotation to begin this season, and let’s add Bruce Zimmermann. You may choose two from the following: Keegan Akin, Mike Baumann, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells. A trade is possible, and so is another free-agent signing.
By Opening Day 2023, DL Hall and Grayson Rodriguez should be in the starting rotation. By then, Kyle Bradish, Kyle Brnovich, Drew Rom and Kevin Smith could be candidates to join them.
Question: Any chance Matt Harvey re-signs? What would it take in a trade offer to get a true number 1 or number 2 starter from another organization? From: Paul Sullivan via email
Answer: Paul, re-signing Matt Harvey to a minor league contract wouldn’t shock me, but it doesn’t seem as if it’s at the top of the Orioles to-do list when the lockout ends.
I think the cost to trade for a top-of-the-rotation starter would be prohibitive. I think next offseason is more likely to see a trade than the short time between when the lockout ends and spring training begins.
Question: Who do you think will be playing the four infield positions in 2024? From: Folsom Boroughs via Facebook
Answer: All right, Folsom, let’s take a crack at it. How about Ryan Mountcastle at first, Connor Norby at second, Gunnar Henderson at shortstop and Jordan Westburg at third?
The Orioles haven’t decided whether Henderson and Westburg fit best at shortstop or third, so please ask me again next year.
Question: The Orioles need pitching. Does an outfielder get traded this year for an arm? If so, who’s the first to go? From: Robert William Kostkowski via Facebook
Answer: Robert, I think the most likely outfielder to get traded would be Anthony Santander. The Orioles would like to see Yusniel Diaz, if healthy and productive, and Kyle Stowers get a shot at the outfield.
If Santander is healthy and productive in the first half of 2022, then perhaps he’s a trade chip.
Question: What happens after two general managers agree on a trade? What are the rules for making a verbal agreement permanent and what variables allow a trade to be voided? From: Steve Cohen via email
Answer: Steve, every transaction must be approved by Major League Baseball. Most transactions are routine, but two ways that can raise a red flag are if a team trading a player is paying a huge amount of the remaining costs of a player’s contract or if a player is found to be injured.
Generally, most teams look at physicals before formalizing a deal, but sometimes an issue occurs after that.
Question: Wouldn’t you think at least some players — whether free agents, international players or otherwise — would want to sign with the Orioles because they’d have a high likelihood of making it? … The old “no place to go but up” idea. From: Bob Stier via email
Answer: Bob, as Buck Showalter liked to say, the Orioles couldn’t necessarily outbid other teams, but they could “outopportunity” them.
Some free agents, including shortstop Freddy Galvis last year, spoke of the opportunity to get playing time as a reason they signed with them. I think it’s truer for position players than pitchers.
Question: Hey Rich, do you know if Dean Kremer or Tanner Scott had any special offseason training or tutoring? Two talented arms I hope we can count on next season. Also, any chance of a better looking spring training ball cap? From: @briski715
Answer: Brian, Because of the lockout, news about players’ offseason coaching and workouts is scarce. I have no idea what the spring training cap will look like. I just hope spring training begins on time.