One of the ways that new Orioles general manager Mike Elias can start to make his mark on the O’s roster over this offseason is to decide who he doesn’t want around any more. On Friday night, facing the deadline for teams to offer 2019 contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, Elias made that decision about a pair of Orioles. Caleb Joseph and Tim Beckham were each non-tendered and are now free agents.
The three other arbitration-eligible players with the O’s were Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, and Jonathan Villar. They were all offered 2019 contracts as expected, with the exact arbitration numbers to be negotiated or argued at a later date. The deadline to submit arbitration salary requests is January 11.
MLB Trade Rumors projected that the five O’s eligible players would receive these 2019 salaries:
- Villar - $4.4 million
- Beckham - $4.3 million
- Bundy - $3 million
- Givens - $2 million
- Joseph - $1.7 million
With Beckham and Joseph not receiving 2019 contracts from the O’s, that saves about another $6 million from the payroll next year. Hopefully most or all of that money can be used to expand the O’s efforts to staff a front office that’s more in tune with the latest trends in baseball analytics and how to apply them to the players.
Joseph, 32, has been an easy fan favorite ever since he managed to fill the shoes somewhat of Matt Wieters following the 2014 injury suffered by Wieters. His propensity to do silly things like impersonate Orioles coaches on the bench and pronounce, “Kid’s gotta eat,” to explain his ability to get clutch hits both made him likable as well.
Through his five seasons with the O’s, Joseph batted a combined .224/.271/.353. That included a 2018 effort that saw him post just a .575 OPS. It’s a bummer because Joseph has been with the organization since being drafted in 2008, but it’s reasonable for even a rebuilding team to think, “We can do better than that.”
Beckham, 28, will always have that week after Dan Duquette traded for him in 2017 where he was red hot and then won the AL Player of the Week. Unfortunately, his 2018 campaign saw him post a .230/.287/.374 batting line, and in the field he didn’t seem to be the answer at either third base or shortstop.
That’s the kind of thing that gets a guy non-tendered as he enters his third year of eligibility. Elias does not need the Beckham acquisition to be a success.
The two non-tender moves mean that the Orioles now have 38 players on their 40-man roster.
Elsewhere, former Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop was non-tendered by the Brewers, who chose to let Schoop become a free agent rather than pay him an estimated $10 million next season. The Brewers GM seems to have some regrets:
Stearns said trading for Schoop "was a bad deal and that's on me."— Tom (@Haudricourt) November 30, 2018
Still to be determined how much value the O’s themselves get out of their return in that trade. Villar followed a Beckham-like path of making a good first impression with O’s fans. If we’re lucky, that will continue into next year. Luis Ortiz is theoretically close to MLB ready if he can stay healthy, and Jean Carmona is still just 19 and has yet to play in full-season minor league ball.
Batting statistics for this article retrieved from Baseball Reference.