Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors Sat, 22 Sep 2018 21:47:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Latest On Dan Duquette, Buck Showalter Fri, 21 Sep 2018 22:03:12 +0000 The Orioles are expected to move on from longtime manager Buck Showalter following the 2018 season, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. That meshes with yesterday’s report from Fancred’s Jon Heyman, which called Showalter “likely” to be replaced.

Nightengale adds that general manager Dan Duquette is expected to receive an extension. It seems ownership was impressed by his handling of the team’s trade-deadline sell-off, which launched a full-blown rebuilding effort that had been contemplated — but not ultimately pursued — over the winter.

If the reports prove accurate, Showalter would be at least the second manager not asked back for  the coming season; the Rangers announced earlier this afternoon that they’ve fired Jeff Banister and will be searching for a replacement following the season. Showalter has been the Orioles’ skipper since taking over partway through the 2010 season, helping the team to three postseason berths — including an AL East division title in 2014. Baltimore steamrolled the Tigers in a clean sweep of the ALDS that season before being knocked out of the ALCS by the Royals.

As for Duquette, he’s been with the O’s since the 2011 season and helped to orchestrate those postseason appearances, though his fingerprints are also on this season’s all-time franchise-worst record. To be fair to Duquette, he has seemingly been hamstrung by ownership at times, as Peter Angelos reportedly had little interest in investing on the international amateur free agent market and was also said to be instrumental in bringing back Chris Davis on what could now be considered the worst contract in the sport.

Duquette, if extended, will be tasked with helping to oversee a rebuild not only of the club’s roster but also the team’s entire baseball operations department. Baltimore has lagged behind other teams in terms of international scouting, the implementation of analytics, the use of technology in player evaluation and more. Following this summer’s trade of franchise icon Manny Machado, Duquette vowed that the organization would invest in those areas as it embarked on its rebuilding process.

It’s worth emphasizing, of course, that nothing is yet set in stone. As Dan Connolly wrote yesterday at The Athletic (subscription link), “decisiveness has never been the strong suit at the top of the Orioles’ food chain.” The only aspect of the future that’s all but certain at this point, he wrote, is that Orioles VP Brady Anderson will continue to “remain in a position of influence.” Connolly ran through the possible permutations of outcomes involving Showalter and Duquette, guessing that both of those long-time leaders would end up on the move but noting the ongoing uncertainty.

Beyond that, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the O’s have made a pair of additions to the pro scouting department, hiring veteran evaluators Doug Witt and Rich Amaral. Witt, the brother of former big league pitcher Bobby Witt, is also the uncle of Bobby Witt Jr. — a potential top selection in the 2019 draft. Amaral, a former teammate of Anderson’s, will be a special assignment scout on both the pro and amateur side as well as a baserunning instructor, tweets Roch Kubatko of If those hires offer any clues as to the broader organizational direction, it’s not strictly clear just what they suggest.

Orioles Reportedly "Likely" To Replace Showalter Thu, 20 Sep 2018 21:56:13 +0000
  • Fancred’s Jon Heyman reports in this week’s notes column that Orioles manager Buck Showalter is “very likely” to be replaced following this season, though the venerable veteran has yet to be definitively informed one way or another by team decision-makers. The decision on general manager Dan Duquette is more up in the air, per the report, and could yet go either way. Showalter has been managing the O’s since 2010 and guided the team to a 666-677 record that is largely skewed by the unmitigated disaster that has been the 2018 season. He’s among the game’s most respected managers, though there have been reports questioning his job security throughout the season.
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    Another Setback For Hunter Harvey Thu, 20 Sep 2018 03:18:16 +0000
  • Orioles prospect Hunter Harvey has suffered yet another setback in his return from elbow troubles, writes Roch Kubatko of The O’s had planned to send Harvey, a former Top 10 overall draft pick and once a consensus top 100 prospect, to the Arizona Fall League following the season. Those plans have been scrapped, and Harvey will cease throwing in the instructional league as well. The 23-year-old righty has already had Tommy John surgery in his young professional career, and he’s also battled shoulder troubles this year as well. There’s little doubting Harvey’s raw talent, but at this point, he’s thrown just 176 1/3 innings in parts of five professional seasons due to his inability to stay healthy. The 2018 season accounted for 32 1/3 of those frames, during which Harvey limped to a 5.57 ERA with a 30-to-9 K/BB ratio.
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    Adam Jones Discusses Vetoed Trade, Free Agency Wed, 19 Sep 2018 04:37:36 +0000 It’s been widely reported that Adam Jones exercised his 10-and-5 rights to veto a trade that would’ve sent him from Baltimore to the Phillies shortly before the non-waiver trade deadline, and Jones publicly confirmed as much in an interview with Sara Perlman of on Facebook Live today (video link). Asked about the decision to do so, Jones gave a thoughtful and elaborate response:

    “It just wasn’t right for me. I was playing center field at the time, and they wanted me to go play right field and platoon. That was the situation there, and it’s understandable. That’s how their roster was constructed, and that’s National League ball — double-switch and all that kind of stuff. … It wasn’t the right move for me, especially going into free agency. I’m not going into free agency looking like I’m [Nolan] Arenado, [Manny] Machado or [Bryce] Harper — obviously not — but I want to continue to create and maintain my stock. Going there to platoon, obviously in a good environment, a winning environment, would’ve hurt me in the long run. If I was 36, 37, a little older and toward the end of it all, of course — that would’ve been a very ideal and smart move, because it’d make sense. … I wish the Phillies the best, because I believe they have a really good team.”

    Jones went on to discuss his upcoming foray into free agency — the first time at any point in his career that he’ll hit the open market. While he stated at multiple times that his preference is to play center field, he ultimately acknowledged, “Whoever wants me to run around [in the outfield] for them, whether it’s center, right, left, I could care less. I just want to play.”

    The defensive alignment may or may not prove to be a deciding factor for Jones, but it’ll be a definite factor in which clubs opt to pursue the 33-year-old and in the types of offers he receives. Defensive metrics have been harsh on Jones’ work in center field for the past few seasons, and his right-field work hasn’t generated favorable reviews, either (-7 Defensive Runs Saved, -2.6 Ultimate Zone Rating in 210 innings). Jones notes that changing positions midseason has been more difficult than having a full offseason and Spring Training to get used to the different angles and reads that come with the move, though, and voices confidence that he could adjust in 2019 and beyond if need be.

    Asked about his priorities in free agency, Jones said he “for sure” wants to sign with a winning club that can provide the “opportunity to play for something special.” That would seem to take the rebuilding Orioles largely out of the picture, making it increasingly likely that the O’s will go with a youthful outfield mix into 2019. While they club could add a veteran bridge at some point, prospects like Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart figure to have ample opportunity to win playing time for themselves next year.

    As for Jones himself, he’ll head into free agency at a difficult time. While he was a star-caliber player from 2012-15, his 2018 season hasn’t approached those heights. He’s hitting .285/.316/.427 thus far, giving him a roughly league-average batting line while trying to adapt to a new outfield slot. There’s some reason for optimism that his offense can rebound, as his strikeout rate is a career-low 15.1 percent after tonight’s game, and his exit velocity in 2018 is actually considerably higher than it was in 2017 (86.6 mph vs. 88 mph). Similarly, Statcast credits Jones with a 2.5 percent increase in his hard-contact rate.

    But Jones will also be older than many of his free-agent peers — he’ll turn 34 next August — and he’ll hit free agency at a time when corner bats have struggled to generate significant interest both in trades and in free agency. Corner outfielders with shakier defensive reputations simply haven’t commanded significant investments unless they come with elite bats, which isn’t the case for Jones. He’ll also be part of a crowded group of outfielders, with Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Michael Brantley, Andrew McCutchen and Nick Markakis among the names hitting free agency.

    On top of that, free agency in general was a brutal reality check for many players last season, as the market yielded very few contracts that would’ve aligned with historically-based expectations. Among the second tier of outfielders last winter, veterans like Jon Jay ($3MM) and Carlos Gonzalez ($5MM) each settled for fairly disappointing one-year deals, though Jay Bruce still managed to get a contract that generally aligned with expectations (three years, $39MM). The very fact that multiple clubs tried to trade for Jones this past July is indicative that he’ll surely generate interest — but it probably won’t be at the price point most would’ve expected a few years ago.

    The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018 Tue, 18 Sep 2018 23:15:05 +0000 Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

    This is how it works:

    • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
    • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
    • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
    • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

    A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

    1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

    But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

    You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

    2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

    Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

    Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

    3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

    A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

    The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

    4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

    Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

    Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

    5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

    We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

    The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

    6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

    7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

    Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

    8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

    As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

    9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

    The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

    10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

    The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

    After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

    11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

    Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

    While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

    12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

    The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

    Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

    13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

    Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

    Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

    14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

    After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

    15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

    Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

    16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

    The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

    17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

    Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

    The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

    18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

    Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

    19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

    The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

    In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

    20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

    Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

    Power Ranking Leaders By Level

    Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
    Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
    Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

    Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
    Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
    Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

    Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
    Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

    Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
    Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

    Short-Season A
    Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
    Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

    Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
    Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

    Orioles Notes: Duquette, Ripken, Mesa, Jones Mon, 17 Sep 2018 16:58:22 +0000 There’s little certainty regarding the future outlook among Orioles leadership, with both general manager Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter in the final few weeks of their contracts. Duquette said last night on 105.7 FM The Fan that he’s not sure what the future holds but expressed a desire to remain with the O’s throughout their rebuild and beyond (via Steve Melewski of “My heart’s here,” said Duquette. “And I’m happy to lead the rebuild and looking forward to it. But I don’t control those things.” 

    Meanwhile, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal speculates in his latest notes column that team legend Cal Ripken could find a role with the team (subscription link). While Ripken has “no interest in managing,” per Rosenthal, the O’s did bring another club legend, Eddie Murray, on board as a special advisor to ownership. Rosenthal briefly explores a hypothetical but drastically more influential position more along the lines of Derek Jeter’s role with the Marlins, though he ultimately tabs the scenario is a “long shot.”

    More out of Baltimore…

    • Melewski also quotes Duquette with regard to the team’s interest in top Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa, who was recently declared a free agent by Major League Baseball. The GM declined to call his club any sort of favorite to sign Mesa, despite the fact that the Orioles have the top international bonus pool available, but he did reaffirm the Orioles’ philosophical shift on the international market and once again voice a strong commitment to continuing to add international amateurs, as the O’s have over the past six weeks. As for Mesa specifically, Duquette acknowledged some intrigue but added that the O’s still need to do some homework. “We don’t have that significant a scouting portfolio on him,” said Duquette. “We saw him in the (World Baseball Classic), so we’re going to have to get up to speed.”
    • Showalter is in something of a tough spot with venerable club leader Adam Jones, a free agent at season’s end whose future with the club is uncertain. The O’s recently benched Jones for an entire three-game series on the road, in favor of younger players with more control. Jones has played more for the Orioles at home as the season winds down, and Showalter discussed the difficulties and the varying factors that play into the decisions with Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Showalter said both he and the front office “have always wanted to play” Jones. The Orioles do need to get looks at younger players, though, and Showalter spoke broadly and somewhat vaguely about the need to balance his desire to play Jones with other factors, including what type of crowd will be on hand the day in question and whether the Orioles’ opponent is in a playoff race.
    Orioles Tried To Extend Manny Machado Sun, 16 Sep 2018 23:50:23 +0000 In this past Thursday’s column, Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports details the attempts of the Orioles to extend star infielder Manny Machado “several years ago”. Machado, as MLBTR readers may remember, was traded to the Dodgers prior to July’s non-waiver trade deadline for a package of five prospects, including outfielder Yusniel Diaz.

    Turning back the clock, though, there were myriad possibilities for Machado’s fate under former owner Peter Angelos’ tenure. At an undisclosed time in the club’s history, ownership was apparently prepared to pay Machado $64MM to remain in Baltimore for the next eight years. According to Heyman, multiple people familiar with the talks remember such negotiations taking place, also recalling that the contract would have represented “by far a record” for a player with that limited service at that point in time. Presumably, then, these negotiations took place during a year when Machado was not yet arbitration-eligible.

    The people familiar with the negotiations apparently remember that Machado’s camp wanted an additional guarantee in the seven-figure range. More specifically, agent Dan Lozano was said to be open to a pact, but it had to “start with a 7”. As Heyman notes in his article, that means an amount as little as $1MM per year could have prevented a deal from getting done.

    Clearly, not taking a deal has worked in Machado’s favor. While the extension would have shattered previous records for both total dollar amount and average annual value for a player with only a year or two of service time, such a contract would have offered team control over at least a pair of Machado’s would-be free agent seasons, for which he’ll now likely be paid at least $30MM a pop. It’s commonly accepted that the All-Star infielder could command a deal north of $300MM due to his young age and level of play, and any extension in the $70MM range would have promised him much less than that for the additional seasons of team control.

    At first glance, it’s easy to think Orioles ownership might be kicking themselves for refusing to increase their extension offer. After all, the added control over Machado means he’d have commanded a far greater prospect package in order to be dealt at the deadline this season. But while it’s easy to see where the former Oriole is now and wonder why the heck Baltimore couldn’t loosen its purse strings a bit, one ought to remember that significant risk would have also come along with the deal. After all, he required surgery on both knees at different points throughout his career. And no young stud is a sure thing to replicate his production over the course of eight years, particularly if there’s injury risk in his player profile.

    Machado will hit the open market on the heels of his fourth consecutive season of at least 33 homers, and a wOBA north of .325. His 29.7 career fWAR to date is more than a little impressive, and he’s even chipped in 14 steals on the season. He’ll receive the added advantage of entering free agency without the burden of a qualifying offer, since he’s ineligible for such a restraint after being traded mid-season.

    Rosenthal On Potential O's Role For Cal Ripken Jr. Sun, 16 Sep 2018 01:59:12 +0000
  • It’s unclear who will manage the Orioles next season, but it definitely won’t be franchise icon Cal Ripken Jr., according to Rosenthal. Ripken’s uninterested in managing, per Rosenthal, who doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Hall of Famer joining the team’s front office. The 58-year-old would prefer a club president-type role, Rosenthal relays. For now, the highest-ranking baseball official in the O’s front office is executive VP Dan Duquette. He’s not under contract beyond this season, though.

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    Mesa Brothers Declared Free Agents By MLB Fri, 14 Sep 2018 17:09:55 +0000 12:09pm: The Mesas are planning on hosting a showcase for all 30 teams in the near future, Sanchez further reports. He lists the Orioles ($6.5MM), Marlins ($4.3MM), Rays ($3.6MM) and Dodgers ($2.78MM) as the teams with the most remaining money to spend.

    Of course, as we saw last offseason in the case of Shohei Ohtani, that picture can quickly shift should those teams (or any other interested suitor) pursue additional international spending allotments on the trade market. The eight clubs that under the $300K limitation mentioned below would likely be particularly amenable to parting with some pool space in exchange for minor league talent.

    11:19am: Cuban outfielder Victor Victor Mesa and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., have been declared free agents by Major League Baseball and are now eligible to sign with a big league team, reports Jesse Sanchez of (via Twitter). The brothers left Cuba in pursuit of Major League contracts back in May. Neither player meets MLB’s minimum age (25) or professional experience (six years) requirement to be considered a professional. As such, they’ll each be subject to international bonus pools.

    While both are prospects of note, the elder Mesa brother is widely considered to be the top talent on this year’s international class, offering elite speed, a plus arm and a generally strong performance in his limited time as a professional in the Cuban National Series. At 22 years of age, he could already be advanced enough for a placement in Class-A Advanced or Double-A, per Baseball America’s Ben Badler, who tabs him as an elite center field defender and potential top-of-the-order bat.

    In his most recent full season of play in Cuba, Victor Victor batted a hefty .354/.399/.539 with seven homers, 40 steals, 17 walks and just 19 strikeouts in 290 plate appearances. Scouting information on the 17-year-old Mesa Jr. is considerably more sparse, though he’ll presumably have no shortage of interest around the league. The brothers are the sons of Victor Mesa, a baseball legend in Cuba who enjoyed a 19-year career and has also served as the manager of Team Cuba in the World Baseball Classic on multiple occasions.

    To this point, the Orioles and Marlins have been the two teams most heavily connected to Victor Victor Mesa. That pair still boasts the largest remaining signing pools, with the Orioles said at last check to have the largest pool available. And while the Orioles have a long history of sitting out the international amateur market, that philosophy has changed in recent months. Longtime owner Peter Angelos has largely ceded oversight of the club to his sons, John and Lou, and general manager Dan Duquette plainly stated after trading Manny Machado that the organization intended to begin investing in international amateurs.

    As of early August, the Orioles’ max offering sat at a hefty $8.25MM following the acquisition of international funds in several summer trades, though they traded $750K of that sum away in a deal with the Phillies and have announced a handful of international prospect signings since that time as well. None of the prospects they signed were high-profile in nature, though, and the Marlins’ pool is lagging considerably behind at $4.35MM as of that Aug. 1 update.

    Notably, there are eight teams — the Reds, A’s, Nationals, Braves, White Sox, Astros, Cardinals and Padres — that are in the international “penalty box” after shattering previous spending pools by more than 15 percent and are thus ineligible to sign a player for more than $300K. That, presumably, takes them out of the running in this picture.

    It should also be noted that the 2017-21 CBA eliminated the possibility of exceeding the league-allotted bonus pool by any sum; teams are now hard-capped, though they can acquire up to 75 percent of their initial allotment in trades with other clubs. Full details on international signing rules can be seen in our most recent international prospect primer. To this point, the Blue Jays, Indians, Yankees and Mets have been among the more aggressive-spending teams on the 2018-19 international market, leaving them with relatively depleted pools.

    Orioles Facing Numerous Leadership Decisions Fri, 14 Sep 2018 14:41:42 +0000 Beyond the obvious rebuild with which they’re faced, the Orioles have numerous behind-the-scenes questions to answer this offseason, writes Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link). Longtime owner Peter Angelos has ceded day-to-day operations of the club to sons John and Louis, but the league is still unclear who the new “control” person of the team is at this point. The O’s will also have to make a determination on whether to retain longtime general manager Dan Duquette and/or manager Buck Showalter, as each will see his contract expire at season’s end. Beyond that, the ongoing MASN television rights fee battle with the Nationals will likely have an arbitration hearing in front of a panel of fellow MLB owners in November.

    Austin Hays To Undergo Ankle Surgery Thu, 13 Sep 2018 02:20:37 +0000 Orioles outfield prospect Austin Hays is set to undergo surgery to repair an ankle fracture, Roch Kubatko of was among those to report. Hays, who made his big league debut last September after an enormous minor league season sent him skyrocketing up national prospect rankings, was limited to 75 games in 2018 and batted just .235/.266/.410 in that time. Though he’s had a brief cup of coffee in the Majors, Hays has yet to even suit up for a Triple-A game; he hit .329/.365/.593 with 32 homers, 32 doubles and five triples between Class-A Advanced and Double-A last season and spent the bulk of 2018 in Double-A (when healthy). Hays had been slated to play in the Arizona Fall League, but it seems he’ll now forgo that to clean up the lingering ankle issue that has plagued his 2018 season. He only recently turned 23 and is still viewed as an important piece of the Orioles’ future, though the 2018 season looks to have gone down as something of a lost season for the 2016 third-rounder. Hays himself has also confirmed that he’ll have surgery tomorrow (Twitter link).

    Dan Duquette Could Draw Consideration From Mets In GM Search Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:11:18 +0000
  • Shapiro, for what it’s worth, has downplayed reports connecting him to the Mets and expressed that he remains committed to the Blue Jays organization. SNY’s Andy Martino, though, wrote this morning that in spite of Shapiro’s comments, “people around the team continue to point to” Shapiro as a potential candidate. It’s worth noting that Sherman’s column makes mention of tension between Shapiro and Jays ownership at Rogers Communications, though he’d also be an expensive hire for the Mets. Martino, too, lists Cherington as a name to watch, and he also adds current Orioles GM Dan Duquette to the pile. Duquette, notably, is in the final season of his contract in Baltimore, and there’s been previous speculation as to whether he’ll remain with the club.
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    Jones Facing Waning Playing Time Late In Season Tue, 11 Sep 2018 22:13:34 +0000 The Orioles recently benched Adam Jones for the entirety of a three-game series, and Eduardo A. Encina examines the awkward situation, writing that it’s becoming more apparent that the organization doesn’t have long-term plans for Jones. Encina notes that Jones “threw a wrench” into Baltimore’s plans when he vetoed a trade to the Phillies prior to the non-waiver trade deadline but opines that it’s nonetheless surprising to see the popular Jones sitting behind a cast of waiver claims and former Rule 5 picks (e.g. John Andreoli and Joey Rickard). Cedric Mullins is the only well-regarded prospect who’s been playing over Jones — the team did call up DJ Stewart earlier today — making Jones’ lack of playing time in his final weeks as an Oriole all the more curious. Jones’ benching did occur on the road, so perhaps the organization plans to give him more playing time for the team’s remaining home games, where fans can show their appreciation for the 11 seasons Jones has given them.

    Orioles Promote DJ Stewart Tue, 11 Sep 2018 19:01:03 +0000 The Orioles have announced that outfield prospect D.J. Stewart is heading onto the active roster. His contract was selected today.

    A few corresponding moves were announced as well. Righty Cody Carroll and catcher Andrew Susac were both activated, while outfielder Mark Trumbo and righty Pedro Araujo were bumped to the 60-day DL.

    Stewart, a former first-round pick, will make it to the bigs in advance of an offseason Rule 5 decision. Clearly, the O’s expect to carry him on the 40-man roster throughout the offseason.

    Now 24 years of age, the FSU product has moved steadily through the Baltimore system. He wasn’t able to follow up on a strong 2017 season at the Double-A level, however, as he struggled a bit in his 490 plate appearances this year at the club’s top affiliate. He hit a dozen home runs, swiped 11 bags, and slashed .235/.329/.387 on the year.

    Orioles Lacking In Multi-Positional Players Sun, 09 Sep 2018 19:38:50 +0000
  • The Orioles are lacking in multi-positional players, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes, giving the team yet another area to address as it enters a rebuild period.  Not even any of the players acquired by the O’s in their deadline deals looks like a candidate for such a role in the future, though the team will be looking at what Jonathan Villar, Breyvic Valera, and Steve Wilkerson can do at multiple positions.
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