Reasons to be thankful on the designated day

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Today is a day to find the best in a world that can be uncooperative throughout the search.  

To be thankful for more time in it.

Sure beats the alternative.

That actually should be done every morning when our feet hit the floor, but the fourth Thursday in November has become the official date.

The pressure builds if coaxed into expressing it at the dinner table between bites of stuffing, but the rest is gravy.

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A few random Orioles facts from 2022

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An area of improvement that can’t be predicted or counted upon in 2023 is the Orioles’ success in close games.

A better bullpen deserves much of the credit.

Eighty-three were decided by two runs or fewer, the fifth-most in the American League and ninth-most in the majors. Manager Brandon Hyde would playfully remind everyone that there were no rules prohibiting big early leads and coasting to victories.

His club went 43-40, which tied for the fifth-most wins in the AL and sixth in the majors.  

Flip back to 2021 and you’ll find that the Orioles played 63 games decided by two runs or fewer, tied for the least amount in the majors. Their 24 wins were the second lowest.

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Orioles working to convince another catcher to come to Baltimore

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The Orioles are keeping two openings on their 40-man roster as they get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday shutdown.

This isn’t a mandated quiet period. It just typically works out that way.

Thanksgiving 2005 was an insane exception. The Marlins traded Carlos Delgado to the Mets and Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota to the Red Sox for Hanley Ramírez, Aníbal Sánchez, and two others.

Reporters covering the Marlins almost tossed their turkey.

(The judges also would have accepted “yacked their yams”)

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Revisiting news of tendered Orioles contracts

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An immediate takeaway from Friday night’s announcement that the Orioles tendered contracts to their six arbitration-eligible players:

No one in the group was non-tendered, and there were some questions surrounding pitcher Austin Voth based on projected salary and uncertain role.

MLBTradeRumors.com has Voth’s contract rising from $875,000 to $2 million. He’s got to make the club out of spring training and he’s out of minor league options.

Will the Orioles run out of room in their rotation?

Voth could make a simple transition to bulk relief/swingman if he isn’t starting every fifth day. He’s worked out of the bullpen, including 19 times with the Nationals before the Orioles claimed him off waivers. And he’s a poster child for the benefits of the team’s pitching instruction.

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Denoyer on making the 40-man roster and enjoying the journey

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The Orioles had four prospects they intended to place on the 40-man roster by Tuesday’s deadline, and an undrafted pitcher trending upward who couldn’t be denied.

Wasn’t worth the risk of losing him.

Noah Denoyer probably felt like the fifth of five players protected in the Rule 5 draft behind pitchers Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Rom and Seth Johnson, and shortstop Joey Ortiz. A foursome that is found within the top 20 prospects in the system, per MLBPipeline.com’s rankings.

Denoyer didn’t spend much time breaking it down or reflecting on its meaning, whether he should appreciate the honor more given his circumstances.

“My goal is always to just make the big leagues and do as well as I can for as long as I can, and help a team to win a World Series,” he said during Thursday’s video call with local media.

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Taking another look at Orioles' offseason interests

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The business conducted by the Orioles can be brought out into the open, whether from the outset or at its conclusion, or held behind closed warehouse doors. The public finds out about decisions made on the 40-man roster and in arbitration talks without knowing all of the mechanisms.

Negotiations with free agents and executives usually are kept private, as least by the club. Too much leaked information can wash away the progress made, with other teams perhaps using it to their advantage.

The Orioles were occupied yesterday with tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Jorge Mateo, Dillon Tate and Austin Voth, and the non-eligible group on the 40-man roster. They can negotiate contracts until Jan. 13, and if unsuccessful, head to hearings.

But there’s always something else going on beyond what we see.

Catcher Mark Kolozsvary passed through waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday, a process hidden until the Orioles announced the outcome. It was significant because only one catcher remained on the 40-man roster, and the overall number of players dropped to 38.

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Orioles must address six arbitration-eligible players by tonight's deadline (updated)

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The Orioles have reached another deadline tonight, this one a few weeks earlier than the norm. They must tender contracts to their six arbitration-eligible players or risk going to hearings.

This is a day-long exercise for some media. Reporting the agreements, maybe the terms. Update after update, or just one lump summary.

The perceived importance needs to be balanced against the reality that these players are under team control. The Orioles are just setting the salaries.

Whether a player signs for $1.1 million or $1.2 million means little if you're not the one cutting the check. But I digress …

Outfielders Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays, shortstop Jorge Mateo and pitchers Dillon Tate and Austin Voth are getting raises under a system that pretty much assures them. The only way to avoid it is to non-tender.

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Ortiz lands on Orioles 40-man roster as more than a defensive shortstop (note added)

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Joey Ortiz never wanted the defense-first label pinned to him. The pride that he took in his glove work was offset by the notion that his bat might be a liability. That teams would have to settle for a light-hitting shortstop in order to benefit from the runs saved.

A more common tradeoff many years ago.

Not one that Ortiz was comfortable hauling into the present.

The Orioles knew that they were getting a plus-defender in the fourth round of the 2019 draft out of New Mexico State. Ortiz knew that he could prove scouts outside the organization wrong who viewed him more as being a one-dimensional player, and he did it this summer.

Ortiz batted a combined .284/.349/.477 with 35 doubles, six triples, 19 home runs and 85 RBIs in 600 plate appearances. He really took off after his promotion to Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 29, slashing .346/.400/.567 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs and 14 RBIs in 26 games.

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This, that and the other

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Grayson Rodriguez celebrated his 23rd birthday yesterday by hopping on a video call with some members of the local media.

One big wish had already come true for Rodriguez. The Orioles selected his contract on Tuesday, placing him on the 40-man roster at the deadline prior to next month’s Rule 5 draft.

Rodriguez referred to it as “an honor,” while others in the industry viewed it as a foregone conclusion.

Baseball’s top pitching prospect expressed his disappointment at failing to make his major league debut after recovering from a grade 2 lat strain, settling for rehab starts and a return to Triple-A Norfolk before the Orioles shut him down.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias has noted the expectation that Rodriguez will break camp next spring in the rotation. Rodriguez is ready for it.  

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Looking back on yesterday's Orioles news

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A week of Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards announcements makes a stop tonight at Cy Young.

Each ballot had room for five candidates. None of the Orioles are expected to make an appearance.

The winner will come from a group consisting of Chicago’s Dylan Cease, Toronto’s Alek Manoah and Houston’s Justin Verlander.

The Orioles’ dry spell, dating back to Steve Stone in 1980, continues for at least one more year.

Yesterday brought us to an intersection of announcements – players added to the 40-man roster before the Rule 5 draft and Brandon Hyde finishing runner-up to the Guardians’ Terry Francona for American League Manager of the Year.

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Hyde is runner-up for AL Manager of the Year by BBWAA

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The Orioles’ rise from 110-loss team in 2021 to playoff contender this summer, their record settling above .500 to shock the industry, couldn’t launch manager Brandon Hyde toward another award.

Hyde was runner-up tonight to the Guardians’ Terry Francona for the American League’s Manager of the Year in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. He finished first last month in The Sporting News balloting.

In his fourth season with the Orioles, Hyde guided the Orioles to an 83-79 record for one of the greatest turnarounds in baseball history. He received nine first-place votes, nine second and seven third for 79 points.

Francona, who won the AL Central with the youngest roster in the league, received 17 first-place votes and nine second for 112 points. The Mariners’ Scott Servais was third with one first-place, eight second and 14 third.

Dusty Baker, whose Astros won the World Series, was fourth with three first-place, three second and seven third. The Yankees’ Aaron Boone was fifth with one second and one third. The Rays’ Kevin Cash, who won it the past two seasons, was sixth with one third-place vote.

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Orioles adding players today to 40-man roster

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The shuffling of the 40-man roster, with some cards tossed out of the deck, grows louder with today’s deadline for setting it prior to the Dec. 7 Rule 5 draft in San Diego.

The Orioles have met multiple times this week to finalize their list. They’ve created six openings, with the freedom to fashion more as they seek to add players from outside the organization via free agency and trades.

Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez and shortstop Joey Ortiz, the No. 8 prospect in the organization per Baseball America, are simple additions. Those internal talks must have lasted two seconds.

Rodriguez is expected to be in the rotation on opening day. Ortiz could compete for the shortstop job in spring training after batting .346/.400/.567 with seven doubles, two triples, four home runs, 14 RBIs and nine walks in 26 games with Triple-A Norfolk after his promotion from Double-A Bowie.

Left-hander Drew Rom, 22, is a strong candidate to be protected. The fourth-round draft pick in 2018 struck out 144 batters in 120 innings between Bowie and Norfolk, and he surrendered only 10 home runs.

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Rutschman's ranking in rookie voting revealed tonight (updated)

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The next round of awards are handed out this week, starting tonight with Rookie of the Year from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman is a finalist in the American League with Cleveland’s Steven Kwan – his former college teammate – and Seattle’s Julio Rodríguez.

Rodríguez already was chosen by The Sporting News, Baseball America and his peers in the Players Choice Awards. He won a Silver Slugger Award last week. He’s just waiting to hear from People Magazine on the results for “Sexiest Man Alive”.

The BBWAA isn’t expected to veer away from Rodríguez, but we’ll find out tonight on MLB Network beginning at 6 p.m.

A first- or second-place finish for Rutschman would give him a full year of service time under the new collective bargaining agreement. That’s a year closer to arbitration and free agency. And it’s why some writers were uncomfortable with the ballot or declined to vote.

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Does shortstop depth shift Orioles away from highest-priced free agents?

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The launching of true free agency last week, with executives allowed to begin negotiations with representatives of players outside the organization, also ignited the annual offseason predictions, speculation and rumors that spread like weeds.

The baseball media’s popular board game, matching player with team. A low-risk roll of the dice.

The Athletic tabbed the Orioles as a best fit for seven of the top 10 free agents – Jacob deGrom, Justin Verlander, Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Rodón and Kodai Senga. Forget the cost. The club is seeking a top-of-the-rotation starter and a big-time run producer, so that qualifies as a “fit.”

But we can’t ignore the cost.

Does deGrom work for the Orioles at a projected two-year deal worth $90 million and including an opt-out clause after the first season? Or Verlander at three years and $135 million, Correa at 10 years and $327 million, Turner at eight years and $264 million, Bogaerts at seven years and $196 million, Rodón at five years and $144 million, and Senga at three years and $72 million?

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Digging into the GM Meetings and other business on Elias' plate

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The Orioles contingent that traveled to Las Vegas this week for the general managers meetings huddled with about a dozen agencies that rep players of interest to the organization, feelings expressed as a method of identifying potential fits.

Making the most out of a couple days before returning to the B&O warehouse.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias was joined by assistant general manager/analytics Sig Mejdal, senior director of international scouting Koby Perez, assistant GM/baseball operations Eve Rosenbaum, director of pro scouting Mike Snyder and director of baseball strategy Brendan Fournie.

“The meetings are always an invigorating event, and especially post-COVID, I think we’ve kind of learned to appreciate the face-to-face opportunities that we get with the other executives, with the league officials, and then probably most of all, with the agents that are there,” Elias said.

“I think one thing that was a little bit unique with these meetings is, because of the lockout and the late start to the season, there was still an ongoing quiet period, but that’s lifted as of (yesterday) and it feels like things are already starting to move fast.”

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Recapping recent events in Orioles' offseason

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A big week is reaching its weekend.

No, I don’t mean the McRib’s farewell tour.

The GM Meetings have concluded in Las Vegas. The Orioles didn’t make any trades, but they’re now cleared to begin negotiating with free agents outside the organization. The exclusive window has shut.

A much nicer sound than the slamming of the playoff contention window after 2017. Or was it ’16?

The year is open to debate. The repercussions can’t be argued.

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Diaz outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk (with Silver Slugger note)

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Outfielder Yusniel Diaz, formerly a top prospect in the Orioles’ farm system and the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers, has been removed from the 40-man roster.

The Orioles assigned Diaz to Triple-A Norfolk today after he cleared outright waivers.

The number of players on the 40-man remained at 34 after left-hander John Means was reinstated from the 60-day injured list, a procedural move due today. Means is continuing his rehab from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready to pitch on opening day.

Diaz, 26, finally made his major league debut Aug. 2 in Texas after the Orioles traded Trey Mancini, and he struck out in his only at-bat. He was optioned the next day to make room for outfielder Brett Phillips and didn’t return to the active roster, though he served as the 27th man in the Little League Classic.

An assortment of injuries, both in the minors and the Arizona Fall League, have wrecked Diaz’s career after he’s impressed in spring training. He appeared in 70 games at Triple-A Norfolk this summer and batted .251/.346/.360 with nine doubles, six home runs and 66 strikeouts in 286 plate appearances.

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Silver Sluggers selected tonight, more on 40-man and Asche

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A new day brings us to the latest announcement on award recipients, as opposed to just the finalists.

It’s got to be one or the other this time of the year.

The Silver Sluggers will be dispensed tonight beginning at 6 p.m. on MLB Network, which is condensing the show into one hour. Less filler.

Orioles' catcher Adley Rutschman and outfielder Anthony Santander are finalists.

Toronto’s Alejandro Kirk, Oakland’s Sean Murphy and Seattle’s Cal Raleigh are the other finalists among catchers. The outfielders are New York’s Aaron Judge, Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez, Los Angeles’ Mike Trout and Taylor Ward, Toronto’s Teoscar Hernández and George Springer, Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena, Houston’s Kyle Tucker and Texas’ Adolis Garcia.

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Orioles decline Lyles' 2023 option (O's claim Cameron)

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The Orioles have decided to decline pitcher Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option for the 2023 season, choosing to give him a $1 million buyout and allowing the veteran to test the free agent market.

An announcement was made this afternoon.

The door isn’t closed on Lyles’ return, however. They could double back to Lyles over the winter, with the possibility of reaching an agreement on a new contract.

The early juncture of the offseason and the current price point led the Orioles to decline the option. But conversations with his representative could be held later.

The Orioles had until Thursday to make the decision, which lowers their 40-man roster to 33 players. Left-hander John Means will be activated from the 60-day injured list this week and return the total to 34.

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Scout on Orioles' player development: “Hitters have improved all year"

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A byproduct of the Arizona Fall League is the chance for scouts to get their eyes on certain players, whether for the first time or to continue evaluating and filing reports.

There’s a popular theory in baseball that allowing prospects to play in the AFL who need to be protected in the Rule 5 draft is risky because other organizations could be swayed to select them.

The Orioles are safe with outfielder Heston Kjerstad. He doesn’t need to go on the 40-man roster.

He just needs to stay healthy and keep swinging the bat as he’s done in Arizona.

Kjerstad went 3-for-4 with his first triple on Friday to raise his average to .371 with a 1.063 OPS. His 33 hits and nine doubles before yesterday led the AFL, his five home runs tied for second and his 17 RBIs and .663 slugging percentage ranked third.

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