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Friday Bird Droppings: Where it’s arbitration time

Today, the O’s exchange figures with their arbitration-eligible players. It might not matter much to us, but it sure does for those involved.

Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
Trey Mancini and Hanser Alberto could have more high fives for each other if they’re able to secure a nice raise through arbitration.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

Today on the MLB calendar, arbitration-eligible players will exchange figures with their clubs to try to decide their salary for 2020. The player and his agent will submit a figure that he thinks he deserves for the upcoming season; the team will do the same, but of course their number will be lower. In February, the two sides will go to a hearing, in which each side will plead their case and a group of arbitrators will choose one figure or the other.

It’s not the most exciting process for us outside observers — my life won’t be materially affected by whether Hanser Alberto makes, say, $1.6 million or $1.9 million this season — but you can bet it matters to Hanser Alberto and to the Orioles’ front office. And arbitration hearings have been known to get contentious. Basically, the team has to argue why the player isn’t as valuable as he thinks he is — often in front of the player himself. That sure isn’t something I would want to sit through.

Of course, the two sides can avoid a hearing by settling on a figure any time before the scheduled hearing, as Miguel Castro did yesterday with his $1.05 million agreement. But Mike Elias indicated last year that the front office takes a “file and go” approach — in other words, once they exchange salary figures today, they’ll cut off negotiations until the hearings. So if the Orioles’ three remaining arbitration-eligible players — Alberto, Trey Mancini, and Mychal Givens — don’t reach an agreement with the Birds before today’s noon deadline, they’ll most likely be headed to a hearing in February. It probably won’t be fun.

In other news, the Elias regime is continuing to scour every possible avenue, including the Orioles blogosphere, to add bright minds to their staff. Yesterday they hired prospect analyst Luke Siler from my former haunt, Orioles Hangout.

Congratulations to Luke on the well-earned gig. This guy really knows his stuff, about prospects and big leaguers alike, and puts a tremendous amount of work into his analysis. (I don’t know of any other Orioles writer who could put together a 100-deep list of potential Rule 5 picks.) And kudos to the Orioles for the savvy hire. This is the kind of creative talent mining that makes me excited about the Elias administration.


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Roch Kubatko tells the inspiring story of new O’s righty Kohl Stewart, one of just a handful of major leaguers in history to pitch while battling Type 1 diabetes. Meanwhile, I’m a guy who has to lie down for an hour if I stub my toe.

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Speaking of Stewart, he’ll be one of a gaggle of pitchers competing for a rotation spot this spring. The competition is not exactly fierce.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You share your day with lefty Ariel Miranda (31), who briefly looked like The One Who Got Away when he had a nice stretch of starts for the Mariners after the O’s traded him for Wade Miley in 2016. But Miranda flamed out soon after and spent last season pitching in Japan. Also celebrating a birthday today is 2001-05 O’s righty Rick Bauer (43).

Did anything significant happen on this day in Orioles history? Let me just check Baseball Reference, and...oh...oh, nooooooo...oh, no no no.... (gulp)...uh, just don’t worry about it, OK? We’ll just pretend nothing happened.

Ugh, I told you to drop it! Sigh. If you must know, it was 29 years ago today that the Orioles made the infamous Glenn Davis trade that became one of the most horrendous in baseball history, with the O’s dealing Curt Schilling, Steve Finley, and Pete Harnisch — who would combine to play another 45 seasons in the majors, with each making at least one All-Star appearance and Schilling likely headed to the Hall of Fame — for the 30-year-old Davis, who was an injury-prone disaster with the Orioles. Oof. That one stings.

Let’s wash out that ugly taste with a happier moment in O’s history. On this day in 2012, the O’s signed Wei-Yin Chen out of the Japanese League. Chen was an anchor in their rotation for four years, including two postseason O’s clubs, though his career took a turn for the worst after he departed for the Marlins.