It’s time for the first part of our monthly Orioles mailbag. Questions are edited for length, clarity and grammar.
Question: Going into 2023, what are your thoughts on bringing in an experienced, veteran starter who can be a number 1 for a few months or even a season? Perhaps that starter can take pressure off a returning John Means and Grayson Rodriguez. With the more expansive left field, do you think the Orioles appeal to Charlie Morton, Nate Eovaldi or Noah Syndergaard? From: Brian Sturm via Facebook
Answer? Brian, I think the Orioles will want a veteran starter. I’ve long been a fan of Charlie Morton, but he’ll be 39 later this year and has a $20 million team option with Atlanta for next year. The Orioles are familiar with Eovaldi, and although he’s been injured this season, he’s quite familiar with the AL East, and I think he’s someone they might have interest in. Syndegaard made $21 million this year, and I think he’ll be looking for a longer contract than the Orioles have in mind.
There will be many names linked to the Orioles this winter, and you’ve mentioned some possibilities.
Question: Do you see the Orioles spending on top-tier, free-agent pitching or hitting this offseason … or will the spending be to keep our own guys around? From: @Bmore2SC
Answer: Jacob, I think the Orioles’ free-agent spending will be mainly on pitchers, starting pitchers. If they spend on position players, I think it might be for a veteran backup catcher or infielder, but I don’t see them spending much there. As for players on the club, many have fewer than three years experience, so they’ll be on relatively low salaries. Austin Hays, Jorge Mateo, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Dillon Tate will be due raises because they’re eligible for arbitration.
Question: Do you think Mike Elias bet against the Orioles making the playoffs and, if so, do you think he’s changed his mind? How much have the deadline trades affected the team’s performance and odds of making the playoffs? From: Michael Martz via email
Answer: Michael, I don’t think the trades of closer Jorge López and first baseman/designated hitter Trey Mancini have changed the club’s playoff outlook much at all. Since they were traded, the Orioles have had only a single one-run loss, and Félix Bautista has done well as the closer. On MLB Network radio last Sunday, he predicted that the team would make the playoffs, so I think he’s more optimistic now.
Question: Do you think that Gunnar Henderson will be called up by August 23rd, and if that’s the case, will it benefit the Orioles in terms of service time? Is that true, and can we expect it then? From: Alan Reister via Facebook
Answer: Alan, Gunnar Henderson could be called up at any time. I know Mike Elias is considering it, and it certainly could happen on September 1st when the rosters expand to 28.
Question: I think Henderson will be the only one who gets a call-up. What do you think. I don’t see Kyle Stowers till next year. From: @WalterMaselli1
Answer: Walter, if Henderson is called up on September 1st, and no other roster moves are made, that would preclude Stowers from being called up. If there are any injuries to outfielders, I think Stowers gets the next call.
Question: Why didn’t Hyde give Tyler Nevin more of a shot? He has a good OBP. We know he can hit. One month is hardly an audition. Jorge Mateo, Ramón Uríass got more than that. The outfielders got years to develop. Rougned Odor is not only performing poorly but doesn’t have a future with the O’s. From: Damon Stout via email
Answer: Damon, Nevin is batting .199 with a .299 on-base percentage. He’s gotten 151 at-bats. Mateo and Urías can play second, short and third while Nevin is a corner infielder and outfielder. It’s clear that Mateo and Urías are fine fielders. Nevin doesn’t play second base or shortstop. As for Odor, he’s been a useful clubhouse presence as well as giving the team key hits.
Question: Has anyone other than Ken Griffey Jr. hit the warehouse? Has it ever been done in batting practice. I was at the All-Star home run contest and remember Juan Gonzalez hitting the facade of the upper deck in left field. From: Greg Haynes via email
Answer: Greg, I was there for that, too, and it was a memorable day. I’ve heard talk that balls have hit the warehouse in batting practice, but none has been documented. I remember when the Orioles moved there, the conventional wisdom was that it would happen occasionally in a game. As you know, we’re still waiting for it.
Question: The Orioles have a ton of infield prospects. Gunnar Henderson is the shining star and should be a stud. What does your crystal ball show for the upside on the other prospects (Jordan Westburg, César Prieto, Connor Norby, Joey Ortiz, Darrel Hernaiz, Terrin Vavra, Coby Mayo)? Which ones do you envision as future All-Stars? From: Greg Fuchs via email
Answer: Now, that is a tough one, Greg. Other than Vavra, I’ve only seen the others play briefly in spring training, though I did see Ortiz and Westburg play once in Bowie early this season. I think Westburg has the highest ceiling, and I’m really intrigued with Prieto, who is only in his first season in professional ball. Please ask this one again in 2023, and I may have a better answer.
Question: Why do you think the Orioles did not trade Anthony Santander when they unloaded López and Mancini at the trade deadline? From: Glenn Fuller via email
Answer: Glenn, there was an active market for López because he was an All-Star reliever. Mancini was in his final season before free agency. Santander can’t be a free agent until after the 2024 season, and I think Mike Elias’ asking price was very high. In the case of López and Mancini, the Orioles received six young pitchers, and unless teams offered good pitching prospects, they weren’t going to trade Santander.
Question: Since there are three wild-card teams now, how are the playoffs determined? Who plays who? From: Ray Heller via email
Answer: Ray, The two teams in each league with the best records get byes in the wild-card round. Currently, those teams are the Astros and Yankees. The division winner with the worst record plays the third wild-card team while the wild-card teams with the best two records play each other. All series are best 2-of-3. The team with the best record is the home team for all three games.
Question: As many readers know your tenure with BaltimoreBaseball.com coincided with their losing ways. While this season obviously has been much more exciting to cover, I’m curious if that’s made it easier or more difficult to cover the team? Are losses more difficult to take now as they’re in the playoff mix as compared to losses that only mattered because it could make a difference if they’d get the first or second draft pick? From: Dave Gruber via Facebook
Answer: This season has been a lot of fun to cover, Dave. It’s much easier when there’s a good story for each game, and win or lose, each game has playoff implications. It’s a lot easier to find good storylines with a competitive team than with one that loses more than 100 games a season.