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Saturday Bird Droppings: Orioles tender contracts to all arbitration-eligible players

Will Santander stay or go, Adley alone at catcher, and the free agent market gets more talented.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Birdland!

The non-tender deadline has passed, and the Orioles have tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players. The full list is Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander, Jorge Mateo, Austin Voth, and Dillon Tate. No surprises! Perhaps there was a scenario in which Voth would be non-tendered due to his uneven track record. But he was really good for the Orioles, and he is expected to get a reasonable raise to $2 million, making it a worthy gamble.

The next deadline concerning these players is January 13, which is the date by which a salary for the 2023 season must be agreed to, or else they will go through the formal arbitration process sometime in February. That involves the player and the team submitting a salary, and then an independent arbitrator picking which is more appropriate.

But other teams did non-tender some of their eligible players, including a few surprises. Cody Bellinger, NL MVP in 2019 and the NL Rookie of the Year in 2017, was perhaps the most notable. His last two seasons with the Dodgers were rough at the plate, a 44 OPS+ in 2021 and a 78 OPS+ in ‘22. Pair that with a projected salary of more than $18 million, and the decision does make sense.

Bellinger, despite his struggles, is likely to have a decent market. He remains a really good defensive center fielder, and there are teams that will believe they can rebuild his approach at the plate. It’s the sort of the player that the Orioles may have gambled on in the throes of the rebuild. But now that the team is ready to win and chock full of interesting outfield options, doing so feels less likely.

But there are other non-tendered players that could make sense. provided a list. Luke Voit stands out for his right-handed power, something the Orioles are currently lacking. And reliever Alex Reyes could be an interesting addition to the bullpen, provided the O’s think he can stay healthy.

But signing on a non-tendered player is, of course, a gamble, and it can’t be seen as a dependable upgrade to the roster. Even if it might be fun to dream about what these players could become in an Orioles uniform.


3 reasons to keep this O’s slugger in Baltimore in 2023 |
Anthony Santander is a good hitter. I just don’t think he is “DH only” good. Plus, I think that his production can be replaced (and exceeded) by a full season of Gunnar Henderson, further strides forward from Adley Rutschman, an eventual promotion of Colton Cowser, and any significant upgrade at second base. However, I’m not gonna be mad if he sticks around! I just need to see him less often in the field.

Orioles Outright Mark Kolozsvary | MLB Trade Rumors
Not so long ago, the Orioles 40-man roster was full of journeyman catcher types, but no more. Rutschman is all alone at the position. Perhaps this indicates that the front office remains on the prowl for backup backstop. Or maybe they just want 40-man flexibility and plan to promote someone from Triple-A when Opening Day rolls around.

Orioles tender contracts to all 6 salary-arbitration eligible players, including Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander | The Baltimore Sun
More info on the O’s arbitration decisions!

Taking another look at Orioles’ offseason interests | Roch Kubatko
The most interesting nugget in here is regarding the team’s plans at shortstop. Roch has not heard any rumbles about external upgrades at the position. That makes sense as the team has a lot of interesting internal options. But it’s a still a slight bummer!

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Bryan Holaday turns 35. He caught 20 games for the 2020 Orioles, going 5-for-31 at the plate in that time.
  • Dickie Noles celebrates his 66th birthday. His O’s career lasted just two games in 1988, when he tossed 3.1 total innings.
  • Larry Haney is 80 years old. From 1966-68, Haney appeared in 116 games—mostly as a catcher—for the Orioles.

This day in O’s history

1963 - Hank Bauer is named Orioles manager, replacing Billy Hitchcock.