Plenty of Orioles chatter as Winter Meetings begin; Leyland goes to the Hall of Fame - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Winter Meetings Coverage

Plenty of Orioles chatter as Winter Meetings begin; Leyland goes to the Hall of Fame

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan USA TODAY Sports

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NASHVILLE—With the Winter Meetings underway, there are bound to be plenty of Orioles rumors over the next several days.

MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported that the Orioles, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves are all eager to trade for Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease.

There have been other reports that new White Sox general manager Chris Getz would be content to wait until next month to move Cease. That would presumably create more of a market for Cease because so few free agents have signed.

Morosi reported on Saturday that the Orioles, who need another reliever or two, are also interested in Robert Stephenson, who began the year with Pittsburgh and was traded to Tampa Bay on June 2nd. Stephenson allowed one earned run on three hits in five innings against the Orioles in 2023, striking out five without walking a batter.

In 42 games with the Rays, Stephenson was 1-1 with a 2.35 earned-run average and a save.

How about position players? As soon as the Orioles’ season ended, the chatter has been about adding pitchers, mostly starters, but also relievers.

There’s been no word about the Orioles using the trade or free-agent market to add veteran position players.

Presumably, that’s because they have so many infield and outfield prospects who are ready, or nearly ready, to play in the majors.

Second baseman Adam Frazier and outfielder Aaron Hicks are free agents, and there’s been no talk about bringing them back, though they were helpful during the season.

The Orioles could always trade prospects who could play in the majors in 2024 for pitching and a veteran. But they also have offered arbitration to each of their 17 eligible players and have signed four of them, including shortstop Jorge Mateo and outfielders Sam Hilliard and Ryan McKenna.

Infielder Ramón Urías, who some thought could be non-tendered, is one of those 13.

Just because a player has already signed or been offered a contract doesn’t mean he’ll play for the Orioles next season. They still could be part of a trade.

Frazier, who set career highs in home runs (13) and runs batted in (60) in 2024, had none of those homers and just 11 of his RBIs from August 1st on.

Hicks, who was a vital surprise acquisition when centerfielder Cedric Mullins went to the injured list for the first time in late May, hit .275 with an .806 OPS in 65 games with the Orioles after his release from the Yankees.

Despite two injured list stints himself, Hicks had a strong finish and hit .303 with an .826 OPS in the last month of the season.

After two-plus nightmarish seasons in New York, Hicks revived his career during his time with the Orioles.

The Yankees still must pay him nearly $20 million in 2024 and 2025 as part of his long-term deal. Any team that signs Hicks could probably have him for close to the minimum salary unless an unexpected bidding war develops.

The Orioles still have some veteran players. Eight of the 36 players on their 40-man roster will be at least 30 on Opening Day.

Reliever Danny Coulombe, who’s 34, is the oldest. Catcher James McCann will be 34 next June. Starting pitcher John Means, first baseman Ryan O’Hearn and reliever Jacob Webb are 30, and left-hander Cole Irvin, Hilliard and reliever Yennier Cano will turn 30 early in 2024.

Leyland elected to Hall of Fame: Longtime major league manager Jim Leyland was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Contemporary Baseball Era Committee.

Leyland won his only World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1997, and won 1,769 games with Pittsburgh, Detroit, Colorado and the Marlins in 22 seasons.

He received 15 of 16 votes. Twelve votes were necessary for election.

Lou Piniella, who managed the New York Yankees, Cincinnati, Seattle, Tampa Bay and the Chicago Cubs, fell one vote short with 11.

Former National League president Bill White, who was also an excellent first baseman with the Giants, Cardinals and Phillies as well as an accomplished broadcaster with the Yankees, received 10 votes.

Cito Gaston and Davey Johnson, both successful managers, onetime Orioles general manager Hank Peters and umpires Ed Montague and Joe West each received fewer than five votes.

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