Now that the World Series is over, we have seen a flurry of moves by the Orioles (and other teams) to start to get their 40-man rosters set and ready for whatever offseason activity we may see. There is a lot to touch on with regards to the Orioles, so I am going to do some fact/opinions to discuss several topics.
Fact: Heston Kjerstad has yet to play a professional game due to myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart. However, he has resumed baseball activities. He recently held his first Q&A session with the media since the diagnosis occurred.
Opinion: If you haven’t wanted the media session, do yourself and go watch it. This kid said everything you would want to hear. His attitude is great, he feels good, he is a baseball-obsessed kid and has a good head on his shoulders. I can’t wait to see his progress in the 2022 season.
Fact: After years of expectations and injuries, the Orioles cut bait with Hunter Harvey, who was claimed on waivers by the SF Giants.
Opinion: This move makes no sense to me. It’s not that Harvey is some un-cuttable player, but the timing makes no sense. I know some people will say that they picked up a better player in Bryan Baker and that having that #1 waiver priority means they need the roster space. All of that is fine but the bottom line is that you don’t have to cut him right now and that there are other players that should have been cut before him.
Some people mention that the O’s will eventually cut him, so who cares if it’s now or in a month or two? The thing is, we don’t know what they are going to do and neither do they and you can always make the move if you need to. Why they are doing it now is head-scratching to me, especially since they have shown a complete inability to build a pen and they aren’t exactly ready to break the bank and sign players either.
Harvey may never be good and maybe the injuries have hurt his stuff. All of that may be true but the upside is still there and it exceeds the upside of guys like Richie Martin and Brooks Kriske, for example.
Fact: Ryan Mountcastle is not one of the three finalists for Rookie of the Year.
Opinion: Despite some O’s fans not being happy about it, this is the correct decision. Mountcastle did a lot of good things this year but the bottom line is that other players were simply far better and the three players who made the finals all deserved it. I wouldn’t even put Mountcastle 4th or 5th in the voting.
Bonus Opinion: If the Orioles are in position to acquire a young, controllable arm that has three or more years of service time, Mountcastle should be a player they look to move in that deal, especially over some of the better prospects they have. I like Mountcastle and will be more than happy to watch him hit 30+ homers at OPACY but he still is a player with limitations and he isn’t an overly difficult player to replace with what’s currently in the system.
Fact: Kiley McDaniel, of ESPN, has predicted that Marcus Stroman will sign a deal for three years, $48M.
Opinion: I think McDaniel is off base on that but if he gets anything close to that, the Orioles should be all over it. Stroman is my #1 offseason target and while I think the Os would have to beat the best offer by a decent amount, any deal where they can get him four years or fewer is one they should do. I know they won’t be entering the FA market like this but I think they would be foolish to pass up this opportunity.
Fact: The Orioles have to protect some players and place them on their 40-man roster to not lose them to the rule 5 draft.
Opinion: Of the players that need to be moved to the 40-man roster, the must moves are DL Hall, Robert Neustrom, Felix Bautista, Terrin Vavra, and Kyle Bradish. An argument for Kevin Smith, who was terrible in AAA, could be made either way. No one else is needed to add to the 40-man roster in my opinion.
Fact: Former Minnesota Twins pitcher John Gant has elected to become a FA.
Opinion: This is a pitcher I can see the Orioles signing. While I would really like to see Stroman and/or Eduardo Rodriguez signed, ownership isn’t going to allow it. Gant has a career ERA under 4. He has shown he be a starter or reliever. He has shown an ability to miss bats in the past, has a mid-90s fastball and gets a decent number of ground balls. He walks too many guys and doesn’t get enough strikeouts, so his ceiling is limited.
Still, the budget conscious Orioles need to add some vet pitching that can help stabilize things and Gant, who shouldn’t cost much money at all, has the ability to do that.
He isn’t going to be anything special but he can help and the Orioles need that.
Fact: Coby Mayo, who doesn’t turn 20 for about another month, put up a .981 OPS in the minors in 2021.
Opinion: Mayo is the O’s 3rd best prospect. I know this is an aggressive ranking for a kid who hasn’t played above Delmarva but he is a stud. People really like Gunnar Henderson and for good reason, but Mayo outperformed Gunnar in Delmarva and he was a year younger. There is some question if he stays at third or not but wherever he goes, the bat will play. He has huge power and has a good idea of the strike zone for a 19-year-old. Sure, he has a lot of risk in his profile but outside of Grayson Rodriguez, Adley Rutschman and DL Hall, no one has more talent/upside than Mayo does and it’s possible, if he can stay at third, that he could eventually eclipse those guys as well. I would slot him ahead of Hall because of DL’s injuries. I hope they don’t mess around with him anymore in Delmarva and move him to Aberdeen to start the 2022 season.
Fact: The Orioles’ best prospects are largely position prospects.
Opinion: Outside of Rodriguez and Hall, there are no other pitchers that should be ranked in the top 10 prospect lists. I personally feel Jean Pinto is their 3rd best pitching prospect but Drew Rom and maybe Bradish could be in the conversation. That being said, the offensive upside for the position players is higher and with guys like Mayo, Kjerstad, Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, Kyle Stowers, Colton Cowser and Connor Norby, the Orioles have a good mix of power, batted ball skills and players with good plate discipline. The long term upside of this offense is tremendous and it will be an offense that can attack a team in so many different ways.
This will not be a three-outcome offense and as someone who feels we have all devalued batting average too much, I think that is a great sign.