Looking at Orioles' arbitration-eligible players - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

Looking at Orioles’ arbitration-eligible players

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


This week should be one of the busiest ones of the Orioles’ offseason. Gunnar Henderson is expected to be named American League Rookie of the Year on Monday night. Brandon Hyde should be named AL Manager of the Year a night later, and though no Oriole is in the top three in Cy Young and Most Valuable Player voting, pitcher Kyle Bradish and Henderson should get some votes.

The Cy Young winner will be announced on Wednesday and the MVP on Thursday.

On Tuesday, the Orioles must add any minor league players from their organization to the 40-man roster to protect them from being selected in the Rule 5 draft on December 6th. Only outfielder Hudson Haskin is among the top 30 prospects who’s eligible to be drafted.

Friday could be the day for some drama. It’s the deadline for the Orioles to offer contracts to their 17 players eligible for arbitration. That’s the day the 2024 Orioles begin to take shape.

Let’s take a look at those 17 players, see what MLBTradeRumors.com projects they’ll command in arbitration and the likelihood they’ll be with the Orioles in 2024.

Anthony Santander — Projected 2024 salary: $12.7 million

Santander earned $7.4 million in 2023 when he led the Orioles with 95 RBIs and tied with Henderson for the club lead in home runs with 28. He had a 3.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).

It’s possible the Orioles package Santander, who’s in his final year before free agency, to obtain a starter, but there’s not necessarily a rush to do that because the Orioles are going to offer him a contract for 2024.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Questionable

Cedric Mullins — Projected 2024 salary: $6.4 million

Mullins had two stints on the injured list because of a right adductor/groin strain, and ended the season in 2-for-48. He was hitless in 12 at-bats in the American League Division Series.

While Mullins, who made $4.1 million in 2023, has regressed from his 2021 season when he became the first Oriole to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases, he still plays an excellent center field and stole 19 bases in 22 attempts.

The Orioles don’t have another experienced centerfielder, and he’s still two years from free agency.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Austin Hays — Projected 2024 salary: $6.1 million

Hays made his first All-Star team in 2023 and was a finalist for Gold Glove leftfielder.

Last year, Hays made $3.2 million and while his second half wasn’t nearly as strong as his first, he hit a career-best .275 and had a .769 OPS, equaling his 2021 mark.

While he could be a valuable trade chip since he’s two years away from free agency, the Orioles seem more likely to trade Santander than Hays.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

John Means — Projected 2024 salary: $5.9 million

Because of April 2022 Tommy John surgery, Means has started just six games in the last two seasons but threw perhaps the best game by an Orioles starter in 2023, holding Cleveland hitless for 6 2/3 innings and allowing one hit in 7 1/3.

Last season, Means had a $2.975 million salary, and even though he’s only a season away from free agency, his injury history make him difficult to move.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Ryan Mountcastle — Projected 2024 salary: $4.2 million

Despite two stints on the injured list, one because of vertigo, Mountcastle proved his value, splitting time at first base with Ryan O’Hearn, He was a finalist for the Gold Glove at first base.

He’s in his first year of arbitration, and the Orioles don’t have a first baseman in the minor leagues to challenge him, so he’s not going anywhere.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Ryan O’Hearn — Projected 2024 salary: $3 million

A delightful surprise in 2023, O’Hearn was far better with the Orioles than he had been in his five previous seasons with Kansas City. Though a late-season slump sent his average down to .289, he had an .801 OPS, 14 home runs and 60 RBIs.

If he can duplicate his 2023 numbers in his final season before free agency, he’ll make himself an attractive free agent a year from no.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Jorge Mateo — Projected 2024 salary $2.9 million

Mateo was hitting .347 with a 1.062 OPS, six home runs and 17 RBIs at the end of April before he imploded. He hit only one home run, an inside-the-parker, with 17 RBIs for the rest of the season, finishing with a .217 average.

In 2022, Mateo had a 2.4 Defensive WAR, but this past season finished with a .7 WAR.

The glut of infielders in the organization makes him unlikely to return. The question is can the Orioles find a deal with a team that will pay him before Friday.

The guess here is that they won’t.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Low

Tyler Wells — Projected 2024 salary: $2.3 million

Wells is a valuable pitcher whether he’s the effective starter he was in the first half of 2023 or a candidate to close. There’s no way he won’t be with the Orioles in 2024.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Danny Coulombe — Projected 2024 salary: $2.2 million

Like O’Hearn, he was a terrific surprise for the Orioles in 2024 with a 2.81 ERA and nearly five times as many strikeouts as walks. The left-hander is needed in the bullpen.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Ramón Urías — Projected 2024 salary: $2 million

Urías was the happy surprise of 2022 with a Gold Glove at third base, 3.6 WAR and 16 home runs.

His offense and defense fell off this past season, and he had a shaky end to the season defensively and finished with just four homers.

Like Mateo, the glut of infielders hurts his chances to return.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Low

Cole Irvin — Projected 2024 salary: $1.8 million

Irvin was a disappointment in 2023, starting just 12 times and compiling a 1-4 record and 4.42 ERA.

He could have value as a swingman, but with no options remaining, he may not be as attractive to the Orioles in 2024.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Questionable

Dillon Tate — Projected 2024 salary: $1.5 million

Tate didn’t pitch at all in 2023 because of an elbow injury and his outlook is murky at best. If his health is fine, it’s possible he signs a deal this week, avoiding arbitration, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Low

Cionel Pérez — Projected 2024 salary: $1.3 million

It would have been hard to top Pérez’s outstanding 2022 (7-1, 1.40, two home runs allowed in 57 2/3 innings, and he didn’t. But the left-hander, who struggled in the first half of the 2023 season, was 2-1 with three saves and a 2.35 ERA with no home runs allowed in 23 innings in the second half.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: High

Jacob Webb — Projected 2024 salary: $1.2 million

Webb walked 10 batters but didn’t allow a home run in 22 innings after he was claimed off waivers from the Angels on August 7th. He did allow two home runs in the postseason.

The Orioles have lots of candidates for the bullpen, and Webb is one of them. He has no options remaining, and the Orioles woul like to have some relievers they can option to the minor leagues.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Questionable

Sam Hilliard — Projected 2024 salary: $1.1 million

He’s a left-handed hitting outfielder who was claimed off waivers from Atlanta on November 1st. He’s stolen 19 bases in 20 attempts in his career.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Questionable

Keegan Akin — Projected 2024 salary: $800,000

The Orioles have many left-handed candidates for the bullpen next season. Akin, who missed the second half of the season with a back injury, was 2-2 with a 6.85 ERA in 24 games.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Low

Ryan McKenna — Projected 2024 salary: $740,000

McKenna provides speed and defense, but he’s out of options. We’ll see if the 2024 Orioles need a reserve outfielder with his talent.

Likelihood he’s an Oriole in 2024: Questionable

Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles’ questions this week. Please email yours to: [email protected]

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