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Here’s Part 2 of our monthly mailbag. We’ll have another one during spring training. Questions may be edited for style, length and clarity.
Question: At what point do you think we see Jackson Holliday? From: @oldbaysports
Answer: Tim, I think there is an excellent chance that Holliday starts the season with the Orioles. He wasn’t overmatched last spring training and played well at each of his four minor league stops. If the Orioles think he can help them win this year, they’ll probably have him on the roster at the beginning of the season.
Question: Do you think the Orioles extend Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson? If so, when? If not, why? From: @2osfans
Answer: I got a related question from @rahunt22, who wants to know if Rutschman is more likely to get an extension because Henderson and Jackson Holliday have Scott Boras as their agent.
Boras recently negotiated an extension for Jose Altuve with Houston, but the large majority of his clients test the free-agent market. I have no idea what David Rubenstein will do when he becomes the controlling owner of the Orioles, but I think Rutschman seems the most likely to be extended because of the Boras factor.
Question: Why do the Orioles seem so down on Mike Baumann? He would have been better than Jacob Webb in the postseason. He could be a long man on this year’s bullpen. From: William Sears via email
Answer: William, I’m not sure that the Orioles are down on Baumann. I was surprised that Bryan Baker was on the postseason roster and Baumann wasn’t. He is out of options, and I think it’s likely he’ll make the Opening Day roster.
Question: I don’t think I understand the whole waiver and option thing. How many options does a player get? How often can it happen? What’s the difference between an option and waivers? When can a player refuse being sent down? From: Luke Jessup via email
Answer: A similar question was asked by Robert Stier. Luke, a player new to the 40-man roster is given three option years. A player may be optioned up to five times in a particular season. If a player is in the minors for 20 days or more in a season, one of those option years is used.
When the three option years are used or the player accrues five years of service time, he may no longer be optioned and has to be put through waivers. A player who passes through waivers once may be outrighted without their consent. Once they’ve already been outrighted, then can refuse additional assignments.
Question: With the addition of Corbin Burnes to the starting rotation do you think the Orioles have the best rotation in the American League East? How do they rank in baseball? From: Rob Jefferson via email
Answer: Rob, I think that the Orioles’ rotation is now a very good one. I like the Yankees’ rotation with AL Cy Young award winner Gerrit Cole and Toronto’s with Kevin Gausman. The other rotations I like in baseball are Seattle and in the National League, the Dodgers and Braves. I think it’s possible the Orioles’ rotation could be the best in the division by the end of the season.
Question: Austin Hays has expressed a desire to sign an extension. While I doubt he would be first, would you believe the Orioles would do it after the season is over and his performance is comparable to 2023? From: Phil Cooke via email
Answer: Phil, I wouldn’t read too much into the Hays chatter. I’m a big fan of Austin Hays personally and professionally, but I would think if there are extensions to handed out, Adley Rutschman, Gunnar Henderson and Jackson Holliday would be ahead of Hays.
Question: What do you think it would take to sign Corbin Burnes to an extension? I think it would take six years and $130 million. From: Dave Kausch via email
Answer: Dave, I’m not much on speculating what sort of contracts free agents could command, but Aaron Nola, who’s a year older and has a higher ERA, got seven years and $172 million to re-sign with Philadelphia, so I would say Burnes would get more in both years and dollars than you project.
Question: Do you anticipate David Rubenstein will look to establish a more personal connection with the fan base than the current owner? From: @MichaelFleetwood
Answer: Michael, I don’t know Mr. Rubenstein, and while I think he’ll be more visible than John Angelos has been, I don’t know that over the long term that’s necessary. Steve Bisciotti has been a very effective owner of the Ravens without being terribly visible. Mike Elias generally speaks effectively for the ballclub, and I think that will continue.
Question: I’ve read all manner of great things about the Orioles’ new pitching ace Corbin Burnes and am looking forward to seeing him pitch. But has anyone mentioned what kind of a clubhouse guy he is? All the players seemed to gel so amazingly well last year and I always worry someone new will come in and mess with the chemistry of the team. From: Karen Gronski via email
Answer: Karen, I don’t think that should be an issue. I haven’t met Corbin Burnes yet. That will come later this week in Sarasota, but I participated in his introductory Zoom session, and I thought he came across as very well spoken. I’m sure he’ll be very popular in Baltimore, both in the clubhouse and out.
Question: What do you think the bullpen will look like on a routine basis? I think the Orioles’ rotation is more or less set, but I think our relievers make or break the season. From: @IronupOrioles
Answer: Craig Kimbrel was signed to be the closer. If Tyler Wells isn’t in the rotation, he’s likely to be in the bullpen, and Cole Irvin would likely be the long run. Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez will have vital roles. Mike Baumann is out of options, and I think if he looks strong in the spring, Dillon Tate is likely to make the team. The eighth spot is up for grabs.
Question: Do you think the Orioles will add a low-cost extra reliever even with Dillon Tate coming back? From: Mark Cooper via email
Answer: Mark, I think adding a reliever is the most likely addition the team might make during spring training, especially if there’s an injury or two.
Question: Are we going to start seeing five-man rotations as the standard and even six-man rotations? Will most teams use openers at least once a week to accommodate pitching arms? From: Jack Morey
Answer: Jack, teams have been using five-man rotations for many years, but with staffs limited to 13 pitchers, I think that a six-man rotation puts more pressure on the bullpen since it means just seven relievers instead of eight. I think the opener trend won’t catch on because that requires multiple relievers in each game. I think that you’ll continue to see openers only when there’s an unexpected hole in the rotation.
Question: Do you think Cedric Mullins will be back to the player we saw at the beginning of last year? From: Jim Straut via email
Answer: Jim, hopefully Mullins is over the adductor/groin strains that sent him to the injured list twice last year and is closer to the player that the Orioles saw in 2021 and 2022.
Question: Should the Orioles trade Anthony Santander, Austin Hays and Ryan Mountcastle and play Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser and Coby Mayo instead? From: @mcqthomey
Answer: Mark, Santander, Hays and Mountcastle provide power, excellent play in the field and are known quantities. Kjerstad, Cowser and Mayo have combined to play 39 major league games.
Question: Do you think part of the reason for giving Jackson Holliday lots of playing time at second base is to give Coby Mayo a chance to start at third later in the year? From: Lee Barrett of Bethesda via email
Answer: Lee, I’m not sure if Mayo is a first baseman, third baseman or designated hitter when he comes up to the Orioles, but I think that having Jackson Holliday play second is capitalizing on his versatility, and the Orioles like players who can play more than one position. I don’t think they’re directly connected, but having Holliday and Mayo playing multiple positions can only help.
Question: How is Dean Kremer in a battle for the fifth slot? How is it even a question? He had 13 wins against only 5 losses last year, made 32 starts so he’s a reliable arm, had the second most strikeouts on the team (just 11 shy of Kyle Bradish) and averaged nearly a strikeout per inning. From: Michael Schwartzberg via email
Answer: Unless something unforeseen happens in spring training, I think Dean Kremer will be in the starting rotation, Michael. I think he had a good season in 2023 and should be just as good if not better in 2024.
Question: What players currently on the 40-man roster do you see traded away to make room for younger players? From: @DemBirdsHon
Answer: It’s not always necessary to trade someone to make room. Félix Bautista, who had Tommy John surgery, is currently on the 40-man roster, but if the Orioles want to add Jackson Holliday to the 40-man roster at the end of spring training, they can move Bautista to the 60-day injured list.
Question: What are your thoughts about Samuel Basallo when he comes up, probably in 2025, with respect to Adley Rutschman? From: @Timothy19430971
Answer: Timothy, Samuel Basallo and Adley Rutschman can easily coexist. Basallo can catch while Rutschman rests or is the designated hitter. Basallo can play first or DH while Rutschman plays. Basallo is only 19 and played just four games at Bowie last season, and I think the Orioles would like to see how he handles playing at Double-A and Triple-A this season.
Question: Please tell me the hideous City Connect uniforms will not be back. From: Charliy Nash via email
Answer: Charliy, not only will they be back, but I’m sure you’ll want to get your tickets for June 29th when the first 30,000 fans 15-and-over receive a City Connect Hawaiian shirt and July 26th when the first 20,000 fans 21-and-over receive a City Connect Reversible Floppy Hat.
Question: Why do pitchers and catchers arrive before position players at spring training? I’m sure they’d like to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their wives or girlfriends just as much as position players do. From: Dave Gruber via email
Answer: Dave is one of our most loyal readers, and he gets the honor of the final question before spring training begins. A number of pitchers have been in Sarasota since early or mid-January, and the report date just requires them to tell the Orioles, if they haven’t already been seen, that they’re in town.
For those who are just physically reporting, it gives them nine days between the first workout for pitchers and catchers (February 15th) and the first Grapefruit League game (February 24th). Even if there was a workout, it would probably be done between 12 and 1, giving them plenty of time for Valentine’s Day.
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