It’s time for our monthly mailbag. We received lots of excellent questions, and I’ll answer more of them on Tuesday. Questions may be edited for length, clarity and grammar.
Question: What are the reasons a new lease hasn’t been signed? Will it be harder to accomplish under Governor Moore? From: Vince Celano via Facebook.
Answer: That’s a popular question, Vince. Harvey Rosenfeld also wonders about specific sticking points. Glenn Fuller wants to know what will happen if the Orioles don’t sign a new lease by February 1st, the deadline for signing a five-year extension. Mike Beale and Brooks Bailey also wonder whether the delay would allow the team to move.
I don’t know specific reason for the delay. I had thought it would be signed by now. I don’t think that it will be any more difficult to accomplish under the Moore administration than under the Hogan administration.
While there is a February 1st deadline for signing a five-year extension, Orioles CEO John Angelos has said in the past that he would prefer signing a longer lease because the five-year extension delays important decisions, and the Orioles would like to make major changes to the ballpark with the $600 million authorized by the State Legislature.
In his comments last week, Angelos reiterated the club’s desire to remain in Baltimore. Last month, commissioner Rob Manfred said the club wouldn’t move as long as he was commissioner.
I don’t believe moving is a real threat.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the team signed another short-term lease, as it did in 2021 while putting off the long-term lease for another few years.
Question: I’m annoyed that we haven’t gotten any more pitchers. What do you think will happen first, a signing or a trade? Do you think that Michael Wacha would be an upgrade? From: Johnaton Meekins via email
Answer: Johnaton, that’s another popular question. Alan Reister, James Davis, Benjamin Bak and Tommy Shuffler also wonder about Wacha.
I think there’s a chance either could happen. Some fans had speculated the Orioles might be interested in Pablo López, who was just traded from Miami to Minnesota.
I don’t know if there were serious talks between the Marlins and Orioles, but Miami acquired an excellent player, Luis Arraez, who led the American League in hitting with a .316 average, had a .795 OPS, and had a 4.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
Trades are difficult, but I think the asking price might be too high for some of the pitchers who are on the market.
Wacha is the best remaining free agent, and I’m sure he would help the Orioles, but I assume his price is high because he hasn’t signed anywhere.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Orioles signed a bounce-back candidate, such as Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel, Michael Pineda and Anibal Sanchez.
Question: Does the Twins/Marlins deal hurt the Orioles’ chances of swinging a deal with Miami for pitching. I like both Trevor Rogers and Jesús Luzardo. From: Steve Trust via email
Answer: Steve, I’m not sure. With López’s departure, the Marlins have six experienced pitchers competing for the rotation with more prospects coming along. I don’t know if Miami is eager to deal more experienced pitchers.
Luzardo and Rogers didn’t pitch as well as López last season, and while they won’t command a player on the level of Arraez, I wonder what Mike Elias’ willingness is to trade from the Orioles’ surplus of prospects and experienced players now.
Question: What is the Angelos’ family won/loss record since they’ve owned the Orioles? From: Ben Schneck via email
Answer: Ben, since the beginning of the 1994 season, the Orioles are 2,000-2,436 for a winning percentage of .451.
Question: Can you address why Austin Voth is slated so low? I think it will be a shame if the Orioles don’t give him a full shot at the rotation? From: Theodore Henry via email
Answer: Ted, I think Voth is a valuable member of the staff, and he could be an excellent swingman who could start or pitch middle or long relief.
With Kyle Bradish, Kyle Gibson, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, Grayson Rodriguez and possibly DL Hall, Voth might not be in the rotation at the start, but he was a key acquisition last season. And because a number of the younger pitchers will have their innings limited, there will be opportunities for Voth.
Question: Do you see the Orioles giving time to Coby Mayo and Heston Kjerstad at first base this spring? From: Bill Connor via email
Answer: Bill, I think Mayo, who played two games at first at Bowie, could get time there. I don’t know what their plans are for Kjerstad. I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide that another young player who we’re not thinking about is a possibility at first.
Question: I realize anything could happen in spring training, but why do the Orioles appear to be giving second base to Adam Frazier, who is just an average player, when you have an elite prospect like Jordan Westburg ready to make the jump? From: Greg Fuchs via email
Answer: Greg, Adam Frazier didn’t have a great 2022 season, but over the course of his career, he has been a better than average hitter and defender.
If the Orioles begin the season with Frazier at second base, it doesn’t mean that Westburg will spend the season at Triple-A. The Orioles were fortunate last season that Jorge Mateo and Rougned Odor weren’t on the injured list at all, and Ramón Urías had only a short stint on the IL.
If the Orioles think that Westburg would be an improvement over Frazier, I’m sure they’ll consider a change. Westburg has played only 250 games in the minors, and he struck out 147 times last season, so I think they’d like to see him work on cutting down his strikeouts.
Question: I think one of the more interesting position storylines this season will be second base. How do you see veterans like Frazier and Urias balancing (or blocking) prospect talent that has a 2023 ETA? Do you think this could be a prospect position to trade from? How hard will it be to keep a Gold Glover like Urias happy as a utility guy … especially if he opens the season hot at the plate? From: Kevin Hill via email
Answer: Kevin, I think that it’s possible the Orioles could trade from their surplus of infielders, but injuries could force the Orioles to bring up prospects such as Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby.
There will opportunities for Urías to play at second and third, possibly at shortstop and even designated hitter, but isn’t it fun to be concerned about having too many good players for a change?
Question: With all of the new signings from the international market does that mean a corresponding number of players must now leave the organization? Are there rules on how many players a team can have in its system in the Dominican Republic? From: Sean Major via email
Answer: Sean, the Orioles have two Dominican Summer League teams, and they can have 35 players on each roster. Some of those 70 players who were on the DSL roster last year will move to the Florida Complex League teams or perhaps Single-A Delmarva. Others will remain in the DSL, and others will be released.