The Orioles and left-hander John Means have avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a two-year, $5.925MM contract, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter link). Means will earn $2.95MM in 2022, and $2.975MM in 2023, as per Baltimore Baseball’s Rich Dubroff (via Twitter). Means is represented by the Wasserman Agency.
Means had been looking for a $3.1MM salary in 2022, while the Orioles submitted a $2.7MM figure. However, it’s probably safe to assume that Means’ Tommy John surgery played a big role in this extension coming together, even if an arbiter would have only been gauging Means’ numbers from prior to 2022 in determining his salary. As per the usual timeline for TJ recovery, Means will be out of action until at least midway through the 2023 season. The extension reflects that situation, giving Means only a minor raise for next season considering that he’ll be missing so much action.
Talking to The Baltimore Sun’s Andy Kostka and other reporters, Means said the two sides finalized the extension yesterday after negotiating for the last week. “It’s nice to not have to go to court and fight [in arbitration]. Especially in a sling. Probably not the best way to go about it,” Means joked.
The new contract locks in some financial security for Means during a difficult time in his career. While there’s never a good time for a Tommy John surgery, 2022 was the first of Means’ three arb-eligible seasons, and thus his rehab will severely impact his earning potential over his next two years. Considering that he’ll miss so much of the 2023 campaign, Means likely won’t earn too much beyond his $2.975MM salary in 2024, assuming he returns healthy and pitches well whenever he does return to the mound next season.
Means somewhat surprisingly emerged as the de facto ace of the Orioles rotation in 2019-21, bursting onto the scene with a second-place AL Rookie Of The Year finish in 2019. Over his first three seasons, Means posted a 3.73 ERA, relying on excellent control and fastball spin (if not velocity) to retire batters, despite allowing a lot of hard contact and not racking up many strikeouts. Means’ Baltimore tenure was highlighted by a no-hitter against the Mariners on May 5, 2021.