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Saturday Bird Droppings: Thinking about arbitration

The offseason has not truly started just yet, but there will be plenty to figure out once it does.

Division Series - Baltimore Orioles v. Texas Rangers - Game Three Photo by Ron Jenkins/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

There is no playoff baseball today, and there has not been much Orioles news to speak of. That feels like a decent opportunity to look forward to the next dates that actually matter for the Orioles.

Five days after the conclusion of the World Series, a few things will happen: Contract options must be accepted or rejected, qualifying offer decisions must be determined, players eligible for arbitration will either be offered arbitration or non-tendered, and all other players on expiring contracts will hit free agency. has an explainer for all of the processes.

The Orioles do have players on expiring contracts, but it seems unlikely that any of them return to Baltimore in 2024. That group is Kyle Gibson, Adam Frazier, Jack Flaherty, Shintaro Fujinami, and Aaron Hicks. Perhaps in the right scenario the team looks to rekindle some relationships, but none of them feel like top priorities right now.

What could be more impactful are the arbitration decisions. MLB Trade Rumors released their annual estimates of raises that players could expect via arbitration. The 16 players they have in this category is tied for the second-most in baseball.

For many of these players, the raises are a no-brainer. $2.3 million for Tyler Wells? Uh, heck yeah. That extends to players with less certain futures on the team, like Austin Hays perhaps. Even if the current front office may look to move someone that is currently eligible for arbitration it makes more sense for them to offer arbitration, hang onto them, and see if they can make a trade rather than losing them for nothing.

But it’s not cut and dry on all of the players. And that is where the tough questions come in. Dillon Tate is a steal at $1.5 million if he’s healthy, but what if he isn’t? The April version of Jorge Mateo was worth far more than $2.9 million, but what about the guy that became unplayable against right-handed pitching? Jacob Webb was quite the find early on, but that shine had worn away by the time the ALDS rolled around.

Something else that tends to factor into these decisions is the Rule 5 status of top prospects. While the Orioles will undoubtedly protect some of their young guys, there are no obvious choices right now. Many of their highly-regarded prospects aren’t eligible for the Rule 5 draft until December of 2024. So that should be less of a concern for now.

Mike Elias didn’t provide much insight into the Orioles’ plans at his press conference earlier this week. We know he loves prospects, and he always says that he wants to make the team better. Sometimes those two things work together and other times they don’t. So far, there has been little appetite from the O’s to trade their young talent. That feels like something that needs to change this winter.


The Orioles were one of three 100-win MLB teams to lose in the playoffs. It’s too early to blame the format. | The Baltimore Sun
It’s such a small sample size. But it will be interesting to see how team’s approach it in years to come. Regardless of reality, if they don’t feel it’s an advantage, then they will act accordingly. It would be pretty silly to see teams actively try to avoid a division title or something simply to keep on player and stay hot.

Orioles have lots of decisions to make with arbitration players | Roch Kubatko
They really do!

Kyle Bradish’s big season should earn him some AL Cy Young consideration | Steve Melewski
Absolutely. He’s not going to win it. The stats just don’t back up a case for him to. But he was very, very good for a team that led the AL in wins. He deserves some down-ballot support.

ALDS Managerial Report Card: Brandon Hyde | FanGraphs
My biggest issue with Hyde was the bullpen management in Game 2. Bryan Baker should not have even been on the roster, let alone pitching in a close game. And going to Jacob Webb just had bad vibes so quickly after he had given up a dong in the series opener.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Midre Cummings turns 52. The outfielder appeared in two games for the 2005 Orioles.
  • Carl Nichols is 61 today. From 1986 through ‘88 he was a backup catcher and outfielder for the Birds.
  • Kiko Garcia is 70 years old. He played all over the Orioles infield from 1976 through ‘80.
  • Tommy Harper celebrates his 83rd. His 15-season MLB career wrapped up in 1976 with a short stint in Baltimore.

This day in O’s history

1969 - The Orioles drop Game 3 of the World Series to the Mets, fall to 2-1 down in the series.

1971 - In Game 5 of the World Series the O’s are shutout 2-0 by the Pirates, now trail 3-2 in the set.

2014 - Another close loss in the ALCS for the Orioles, dropping Game 3 by a score of 2-1 to the Royals.