It’s time for the second part of our monthly mailbag. Questions may be edited for clarity, length and grammar.
Question: Is there a possibility that Justin Verlander would sign with the Orioles? Could they sign him to a short contract? From: Rick Staley via Facebook
Answer: Rick, it would be a huge surprise if Justin Verlander signs with the Orioles. MLBTradeRumors.com estimates that he’ll get a three-year, $120 million contract, and I would be shocked if the Orioles spent $40 million a year on anyone.
Question: If you were Mike Elias, would you trade some top prospects for established older players or would you wait on the youngsters to develop for one more season? From: Dave Gruber via Facebook
Answer: Dave, I like the Orioles’ prospects, but the one area they need help in is starting pitching and in order to get some major league-ready talent, they’ll need to sign some free agents or make trades.
While I wouldn’t trade Jordan Westburg and am eager to see what he can do in the majors, they have a number of infield prospects who could be attractive to other teams. There just isn’t room for all those prospects, and the surplus could be used to trade for a starter or two.
Question: Why are the Orioles signing outfielders when they have an abundance of them? From: Tommy Shuffler via email
Answer: Tommy, the Orioles were fortunate last year that none of their outfielders had a stint on the injured list. They’re also not sure if they’re going to trade any of their established outfielders over the winter, and if they do, they’ll need another backup or two.
While Daz Cameron and Jake Cave’s acquisitions aren’t headline grabbing, they could be insurance in case of injuries. In Cameron’s case, he could be a useful pinch-runner. He’s stolen nine bases in the majors without being thrown out.
Question: Who are the top three players you think or want the Orioles to sign? From: @TMartin8910
Answer: Todd, I would like to see the Orioles acquire two additional starting pitchers and a quality backup catcher. Mike Elias may have other ideas.
Among free agent starters, I think Zach Eflin, Andrew Heaney, Sean Manaea, José Quintana, Jameson Taillon and Michael Wacha are the type of pitchers they might be able to afford and attract to Baltimore.
Finding a catcher who’s willing to settle for perhaps 30-to-40 starts a year might be difficult. Sandy León, Roberto Pérez, Kevin Plawecki and Austrin Romine fall into this category.
Question: Will the Orioles capitalize at peak value for Anthony Santander and trade him? Maybe to the Marlins for Pablo López? Miami needs a slugger. From: @Ryankellycgmai1
Answer: Ryan, I’m a big Anthony Santander fan. I know his salary is going up, but he showed great improvement last season. His power numbers were excellent though his average was a bit disappointing. If Mike Elias wants to add a middle-of-the-order hitter, I hope he wouldn’t sacrifice Santander.
However, López is the type of pitcher that I think would help the Orioles. His durability and control are excellent.
Question: Why does DL Hall struggle with throwing strikes consistently, leading to a fairly high walk total?. I would assume he has been pitching most of his life, so you would think his walk rate would lower over time. From: Brad Kreger via email
Answer: Brad, Hall walked six batters in 13 2/3 innings with the Orioles, and you’re right, control has been a problem in his professional career. The Orioles hope with coaching and time his control will improve.
Look at Félix Bautista. In 2021, he allowed 5.8 walks per nine innings in the minors, and with the Orioles in 2022, he walked just over three per nine, an excellent improvement.
The Orioles hope that Hall can do the same.
Question: Who is the frontrunner to play second base in 2023? From: Pklimas89 via email
Answer: I don’t think there is a frontrunner yet. I think Ramón Urías profiles more as a super utility player, able to fill in at second, third and shortstop. I think Jordan Westburg will be given every opportunity to play second and maybe Joey Ortiz will get a shot, too.
It’s also possible that the Orioles will sign a second baseman in free agency.
Question: Do you think the Orioles would have possibly made the playoffs had they not traded Trey Mancini and Jorge López? From: Francis Bristow via email
Answer: Francis, I think if the Orioles kept Mancini and López, it wouldn’t have changed how they finished. We don’t know how they would have performed had they stayed with the Orioles, but Mancini hit just .176 with eight home runs and 22 RBIs in 51 games with Houston, and López was 0-1 with four saves and a 4.37 ERA in 23 games with Minnesota.
I’m thrilled for Mancini, who won a World Series despite hitting just 1-for-21 in the postseason, and hope he finds a good baseball home for next year and beyond, and I hope López, another great guy, recaptures the success that earned him an All-Star Game appearance with the Orioles.
Question: Have you heard any concerns coming out of the Warehouse regarding the lukewarm response by fans to the team’s success this year? From: Harvey Rosenfeld via email
Answer: Harvey, Orioles attendance rose modestly in 2022. They drew an average of 17,543 about 1,200 more than the average of 16,347 in 2019, the last pre-pandemic season.
In 2019, the Orioles were 28th in the major leagues in attendance. In 2022, they were 23rd.
Attendance was disappointing on Monday-Thursdays, and the Orioles will start weeknight games at 6:35 pm before Memorial Day and Labor Day. They’ve also added a few more weekday afternoon games.
After five losing seasons, including two affected by the pandemic, it’s not surprising that attendance was disappointing. The guess here is with expectations higher in 2023, attendance will be, too.
Question: I live in Sacramento, California, and depend on MASN via MLB.TV to see the Orioles. I wonder about the status of MASN if the Nationals are sold. From: Mark R.
Answer: Mark, I don’t think the Nationals’ status has anything to do with your ability to watch the Orioles. I think you’ll be able to see the Orioles on MLB.TV no matter what.
Question: What are the chances the Orioles sign some of the top pitching prospects from Japan? They wouldn’t have to trade for them nor would they lose draft choices. From: Patrick Higgins via email
Answer: Patrick, I haven’t heard anything about the Orioles pursuing any pitching prospects from Japan. While the Orioles have become more aggressive internationally, they’ve kept away from Japan.
Question: Is there any update on the Angelos vs Angelos lawsuit and do you think that situation could impact free-agent name players from coming here? From: Larry Schultz via email
Answer: Larry, the Angelos family dispute has not yet been settled. I think it has no bearing on attracting free agents. On June 9th, the day news broke about the lawsuit, the Orioles were 24-33. From that point, they were 59-46, so I don’t think there was an impact on the season.
Question: What’s the hold-up in getting the stadium lease extension signed? From: Alan Riester via Facebook
Answer: Al, I’m not sure. John Angelos has convincingly said that the team is going to sign the extension, and I hope they do so by the time Governor Hogan leaves office on January 18th.
Notes: The Orioles have until 8 pm Friday to offer contracts to their six arbitration-eligible players — outfielders Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander, shortstop Jorge Mateo and right-handers Dillon Tate and Austin Voth. … Catcher Mark Kolozsvary has been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk. Kolozsvary was claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on October 11th. Adley Rutschman is the only catcher on the 40-man roster, which has 38 players. … Rutschman received one fifth-place vote, one eighth-place vote, one ninth-place vote and three 10th-place votes in the balloting for the American League Most Valuable Player.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB