Quick Links

Five for the Orioles to sign long-term


Five for the Orioles to sign long-term

The Orioles have 15 arbitration-eligible players. They won’t keep all of them, and will settle with at least some of them before they even file for arbitration.

While there are no major players scheduled for free agency, there are several the team has to keep. It would be in their best interests to sign a few of them to long-term contracts.

Five who the Orioles should sign long-term

1) Jim Johnson

Most teams are loath to sign relief pitchers to long-term deals, and there’s good reason.

Unlike position players or even starting pitchers, the number of consistently excellent relievers is very small.

The Orioles are betting that Johnson is going to be one of the few consistent ones. He has the mentality, work ethic and stuff to avoid the inconsistency.

Dan Duquette, the Orioles’ executive vice president of baseball operations, knows the history of relievers and while Johnson isn’t eligible for free agency until two years from now, it might be wise to
try and sign him to a three-year deal.

The Orioles could avoid two years of arbitration and a year of free agency. There isn’t any need to go longer than three years, but they shouldn’t want to go to arbitration with their player rep.

Johnson lives in Sarasota, Fla., is a favorite of Buck Showalter’s, and likes being with the Orioles.

The Orioles should seize this opportunity.

2)  Matt Wieters

Wieters also lives in Sarasota, is a Showalter favorite as well, but has the Darth Vader of agents, Scott Boras.

The two-time All-Star catcher was renewed for just $500,000 by the team this year, a number that didn’t sit well with either Boras or Wieters.

He’s eligible for arbitration for  the  first time and because Duquette’s predecessor Andy MacPhail kept him in the minor leagues until late  May 2009, Wieters won’t be a free agent until 2016.

The Orioles must make sure Wieters doesn’t get there.

It would be surprising if Wieters agreed to an extension that took away his free agent years this quickly, especially with Boras negotiating.

While the Orioles might want to offer a six-year deal as they did with Adam Jones, Wieters’ value will only increase the closer he gets to
free agency.

They could start with a three-year deal to try and avoid arbitration and then see what Wieters’ requests are.

If there is a Wieters extension, it’s likely to come closer to spring training so Boras can gauge the market.

3) Jason Hammel

Hammel is also two years away from free agency, but he shows signs of being a staff leader. Showalter trusted him to start a playoff game after missing three weeks with a knee injury. Hammel’s maturity and innings-eating ability could be valued for a young staff.

Hammel could get a deal like Johnson, two years of arbitration and a year of free agency.

4) Mark Reynolds

Reynolds has an $11 million option for next season with a $500,000 buyout.

This one will be tricky. The Orioles have no viable in-house options for first base, and they’d be committing to Reynolds on the basis of the season’s final two months.

Reynolds did a fine job at first base. With a full season there, he’ll probably get even more comfortable and his power numbers would probably rise, too.

With an uninspiring group of free agents at first base, perhaps a three or four-year deal with Reynolds could work. He’d be a free agent next year, and the Orioles don’t really have anywhere else to go.

5) Darren O’Day

O’Day had a terrific season with a 7-1 record and a spectacular post-season. He’s two years away from free agency, but at $1.35 million last season, he was a bargain.

The Orioles will probably wait on him, but his value could skyrocket with another outstanding season.

Honorable mention:

Chris Davis

Even though Davis and Wieters were the two biggest bargains on the Orioles. Davis like Wieters is three years away from free agency. There isn’t the premium on DHs that there is with catchers. He can wait, but if he has another 30-plus home run year in 2013, he may become pricey.

Quick Links

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

USA Today Sports Images

Orioles finally hire Brandon Hyde as new manager

The Orioles have finally found their man.

After entering the Winter Meetings without having yet hired their new manager, a rarity in this era of baseball, the Orioles announced Friday that they had hired Brandon Hyde to fill the role.

Hyde joins the organization after spending half a decade in Chicago under Joe Maddon, and many years prior with the Marlins. He has a long background in player development, something that was important to new Orioles GM Mike Elias, which makes sense considering the state of the organization and their upcoming rebuilding process.

Hyde is 45, so he’ll have the opportunity to stick in Baltimore for a long time if he finds success, however, Elias defines it, in the next few seasons. Many times, the manager leading a team as it embarks on an organizational rebuild is not the same one who leads them back into contention, but the Orioles front office will certainly hope Hyde is up to both tasks.
“After conducting an intensive search, I believe that we have found the ideal leader for the next era of Orioles baseball,” said Mike Elias, Orioles Executive Vice President and General Manager, in a statement released Friday.

“Brandon’s deep background in player development and Major League coaching, most recently helping to shape the Cubs into a World Champion, has thoroughly prepared him for this job and distinguished him throughout our interview process. I look forward to introducing him to our fans next week and to working together with him to build the next great Orioles team.”

Elias was thought to have preferred someone with Major League experience, so as to avoid saddling an up-and-coming manager with multiple 90-plus loss seasons inevitably on the horizon in Baltimore. Hyde technically has experience coaching in the big leagues, though it comes in the form of a single game. The Marlins lost his one game as acting manager 2-1 to the Rays, and Jack McKeon was named interim manager the next day.

Maddon has developed a reputation as a stellar communicator and somebody open to analytics, and it stands to reason that Hyde would follow a similar style of leadership, especially considering how critical those traits are in the eyes of Elias.

Hyde replaces Buck Showalter, a beloved figure in Baltimore after his 8 ½ seasons at the helm brought winning baseball back to a city desperate for relevancy. Showalter’s contract was not renewed at the end of this past season, an understandable decision given his age and how long it will be until the franchise is ready to compete again.

Reports swirled about Hyde being named the 20th manager in franchise history as early as Tuesday at the Winter Meetings, though Elias and the front office were quick to emphasize that nothing was official at the time. In the end, Hyde does end up accepting the job, and he’ll be introduced at a press conference Monday.

Nationals bench coach Chip Hale was, along with Hyde, one of six finalists who interviewed for the position, so the Nats won’t be losing a valuable piece of their staff.

The Orioles are in the honeymoon phase of the rebuild, where hope springs eternal and the losses to come haven’t set in yet. Hyde checks all the boxes for what Elias was looking for, and despite his relative inexperience, he’s someone who should excite, if not necessarily inspire, the fanbase in Charm City.

Orioles fans won’t have many exciting acquisitions to cheer on in the near future, but they may have just made one of their most impactful. The O’s finally have their GM-Manager combination set for the foreseeable future, and they’ll hope to experience as much success and more as the previous regime.

Quick Links

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

USA Today Sports

Orioles GM Elias calls reports of Brandon Hyde being next manager "premature"

Orioles new general manager Mike Elias is a busy man out in Las Vegas. Not only is he looking to add much needed talent to Baltimore's roster but he is also searching for a new manager. Elias interviewed six candidates, including Nationals bench coach Chip Hale, for the vacancy. On Monday, Elias said they were “pretty far along in the process.”

Then the reports surfaced on Tuesday that the Orioles had found their man. 

For a second straight year, Joe Maddon's bench coach has landed a managerial job (Davey Martinez). 

But, in the words of College Gameday's Lee Corso "Not so fast my friend!"

Does that mean Hyde is not the manager? Not necessarily. It likely means Elias wants the news to come out on his terms.