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Weekend Bird Droppings: Minor labor progress, more spring games axed

It is a crucial weekend for CBA talks if Opening Day is to remain unaffected.

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Pittsburgh Pirates v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

We are nearing the self-imposed deadline by which MLB says it will need to postpone regular season games if an agreement on a new CBA between the owners and players cannot be reached. The league has reiterated that Monday, February 28 is a hard deadline, and they won’t be budging. Without a deal, games are getting cancelled, they won’t be made up, and players won’t be paid for them.

That would seem to indicate that this weekend is pretty darn crucial. It’s so serious, in fact, that commissioner Rob Manfred has arrived to participate in the talks. Friday was the busiest day of negotiations yet with the two sides meeting several times, and it appears that some progress was made.

In an effort to limit the ability of teams to tank, a draft lottery is coming. The two sides agree on that, but the discrepancy lay in the number of teams that would get into the lottery. Players want it to include more teams while the league wants it to be fewer. It is unclear what the two sides settled on, but reports indicate that they have found middle ground and should be finalizing that piece soon.

As nice as it is to get some amount of good news, this is still relatively small potatoes. The biggest issue of all still needs to be sorted. Players want more control over their careers, they want higher salaries for young players, and they want an increase in the soft cap that has been dubbed Competitive Balance Tax (CBT). As far as we know, neither side has budged much there, and that feels like a huge hurdle to clear in one weekend.

The league also announced that spring games through March 7 have officially been cancelled. If a deal is struck this weekend (fingers crossed), we could be in for a wild week of transactions ahead of a speedy start to the preseason.


ZiPS 2022 Top 100 Prospects | FanGraphs
Prospect Week continues over at FanGraphs with Dan Szymborski’s projection of the game’s various youngsters. The Orioles are well-represented once again, although Coby Mayo fans may be disappointed. However, it’s fun to see Colton Cowser in the top 50 of another list, particularly a projection system that may have some similarities with the ways that Mike Elias’s team evaluates prospects.

Dominant when attacking strike zone, Bradish on cusp of majors | The Baltimore Sun
A lot of the talk about Kyle Bradish is that he is a tweener type that could see his future in either the rotation or the bullpen. Fortunately, he is a good spot to figure out which makes more sense. The Orioles have every incentive to see if he can handle a starter’s role and give him ample opportunities to do so.

Terrin Vavra’s on-base skills showcase potential for top-of-order role | The Baltimore Sun
I realize that Terrin Vavra may not be a star-in-the-making, but his eventual big league arrival has me quite excited. He played second base, shortstop, and centerfield last year, and he did so with a 130 wRC+ at Double-A. Granted, that was just a 40-game sample, but scouts have always liked his ability to make contact and his athleticism. That sure sounds like a guy with a chance to start a couple times a week, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Scrap the scrap heap: When baseball resumes, a plea for the Orioles to pass on past-it pitchers | Jon Meoli
This is reasonable, especially given where things are in the rebuild. It is entirely possible that none of the Dean Kremer/Keegan Akin/Alexander Wells group are pieces of the O’s rotation going forward, but we need to know for sure, or possibly try them in bullpen roles. The roster seems to be a slightly better place than it was a year ago in that John Means, Bruce Zimmermann, and Jordan Lyles are definite rotation pieces. That is a significant improvement from when they entered 2021 with a bunch of question marks beyond Means.

New Aberdeen skipper ready for the challenge of pro ball | Steve Melewski
Perhaps I just didn’t pay close enough attention prior to Mike Elias’s arrival, but the Orioles sure do like to move their minor league coaches around, don’t they? It makes sense. The coaches seem to get promoted along with the players. That likely makes for the most cohesive development path, and you cannot argue with the results to this point. Roberto Mercado is new to the organization, but he is being placed at a level (High-A Aberdeen) where his history of working with young players and an ability to speak Spanish seem perfect for the task.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Alexander Wells turns 25 this weekend. The lefty made his big league debut last summer and looks poised to figure into the Orioles starting situation once again in 2022.
  • Yovani Gallardo celebrates his 36th. His stay in Baltimore lasted just one season, when he had a 5.42 ERA over 23 starts in 2016.
  • Josh Towers is 45 years old. A 15th-round draft pick of the O’s in 1996, Towers debuted in 2001 and went on to appeared in 29 total games for the Orioles through the 2002 campaign.
  • Pete Smith turns 56 years old. The righty wrapped up his 11-season big league career with 27 appearances in an Orioles uniform during the 1998 season.
  • Carl Warwick is 85 years old. The outfielder played in just nine games for the 1965 O’s.

This weekend in O’s history

1988 - The Orioles send third baseman Ray Knight to the Tigers in a trade for pitcher Mark Thurmond.