Orioles have lots of decisions to make with arbitration players

santander 2-hr night v. TOR

Matt Swartz at MLBTradeRumors.com created a model to project salaries for arbitration-eligible players, which the site has published for 13 years. Is it 100 percent accurate? Of course not, because that would be impossible. But he nails some and comes darn close with others.

That's to be expected with an algorithm that, as the site describes it, “looks at the player’s playing time, position, role, and performance statistics while accounting for inflation.” We’re also warned against using it as a “scorecard.” But does that stop us?

Of course not.

Anyway, the Orioles have an astounding 16 players eligible for arbitration, tied with the Rays and Mets for second most behind the Yankees’ 17. My unscientific projection is there’s zero chance that the club retains all of them.

Anthony Santander’s salary could jump from $7.4 million to $12.7 million. Starter Kyle Gibson led the club this season at $10 million, since the Yankees carried the bulk of Aaron Hicks’ salary and the Mets handled the bulk of James McCann’s.

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More notes and quotes from yesterday's season-ending press conference at Camden Yards

hyde contemplating

The reflection period after the last playoff game also covers press conferences in the auxiliary clubhouse at Camden Yards, where the ballpark was eerily quiet yesterday. No one milling around the concourses. No prep work for Game 5 of the American League Division Series.

Sort of like a bug-out but without taking down the tents.

The place will be hoppin’ again next spring. The Orioles open at home against the Angels on March 28.

In the meantime, out of the public eye, team officials are gathering to discuss various points of business. You want specifics? Check back later.

“This is very fresh,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. “We just got off a plane.”

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Elias: "I hope that the city of Baltimore remembers this group for kind of reminding the world that this is Baltimore and we do baseball here"

elias celebrates playoff clinch

More players arrived at Camden Yards this morning to pack their belongings. Others hopped in cars or boarded flights home. Félix Bautista arrived before 11 a.m. to get further instructions on rehabbing his right elbow, an arduous task that begins in a few days in Sarasota.

The Orioles’ offseason is in its infancy stages, which precludes executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias from offering specifics on targeted areas of improvement, payroll, handling arbitration-eligible players, the status of front office personnel and the coaching staff, replacing Bautista and roles for other pitchers.

Elias didn’t tap dance during today’s season-ending press conference, but he chose his words carefully and warned that he would be “kind of boring today with positional roster questions.”

It’s just too soon. The wounds are fresh after being swept by the Rangers in the Division Series.

“I just want to thank our players,” Elias said in opening remarks during his 30-minute session. “Just tremendous group of individuals I’ll never forget. Getting a chance to work with these guys, and luckily we’re going to be working with many, many, many of them going forward. We asked a lot of them and they delivered, so, any shortcomings that anyone perceives with the 2023 campaign should be directed towards me.

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Leftover thoughts and observations from the ALDS

gibson v BOS

The end was laid out early for us, the six runs scored over the first two innings in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. And yet, it felt so abrupt. Funny how that works.

A strikeout with two down in the top of the ninth inning, Rangers sprinting out of the dugout to celebrate, Orioles staying in theirs to watch and maybe learn. The hurt so evident later.

“It doesn’t really feel real right now,” said catcher Adley Rutschman.

Everyone looked like they were in a haze.

I could carry away so many images from the 2023 season, but I may be stuck with the sight of players sitting in front of their lockers after the media entered. Pretty much a full room, which is highly unusual. It actually was jarring. And not a sound made. Just blank stares.

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Losing the ALDS doesn't erase the good that came out of the 2023 season

Ryan Mountcastle

ARLINGTON, Texas – Maybe the wounds are too fresh for players and fans to be reflective.

Time has healing powers.

The disappointment last night was evident along every wall of the visiting clubhouse at Globe Life Field. Total silence except for media interviews in front of lockers. Blank expressions. And then, a lot of hugging.

The Orioles didn’t want to go home unless they were prepping for Game 5 of the Division Series.

They truly believed until the last out that they could become the 11th team to fall behind 2-0 in a best-of-five series and win it. The same mentality that led to those 48 comeback victories that tied the Reds for most in the majors.

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Orioles swept in ALDS with 7-1 loss in Game 3 (updated)


ARLINGTON, Texas – Rookie Jordan Westburg struck out on three pitches, and the Orioles ran out of comebacks. Out of chances to keep playing. They’re going home, and not to host the decisive game.

A team that wasn’t swept in its last 91 series couldn’t squeeze a win out of the ALDS.

Dean Kremer allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings, with homers by Corey Seager and Adolis García traveling a combined 863 feet, and the Rangers rolled to a 7-1 win in Game 3 before an announced sellout crowd of 40,861, the largest ever at Globe Life Field.

The 101 wins in the regular season and first division title since 2014 must suffice. The launch out of the rebuild and the promise of many playoff teams in the future.

Players had to deal with the present as they sat in the dugout and watched the Rangers celebrate, then made the painful walk back to their clubhouse. The best record in the league didn’t give them a pass.

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McCann: "We don't listen to the outside noise"


ARLINGTON, Texas – The temperature of the Orioles hasn’t changed in the Texas heat or the air conditioning inside Globe Life Field.

They aren’t in a panic after losing the first two games of the American League Division Series. They aren’t consumed with doubts.

They aren’t paying attention to the skeptics and doomsayers.

“Obviously, this is different because of the playoffs, but we've been in this spot before,” said catcher James McCann. “We've lost two games in a series and we've bounced right back. I think that's the mindset we have to have today. We can't change our mindset. We can't change who we've been for 162 games, the success we've had coming into the playoffs. Just because we're down 0-2 doesn't mean we need to change who we are. Staying true to who we are, having each other's back and go out and play the game hard. See what happens.”

“Every game we play, we're trying to win the game. I feel that way,” said Ryan O’Hearn, who’s serving as designated hitter tonight.

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Orioles and Rangers Game 3 lineups

mullins hr @HOU

ARLINGTON, Texas – A must-win Game 3 for the Orioles brings changes to their lineup against Rangers right-hander Nathan Eovaldi.

Ryan O’Hearn gets his first start, batting fifth and serving as designated hitter. Adam Frazier is playing second base and batting ninth.

Gunnar Henderson is leading off.

Cedric Mullins is batting seventh, followed by third baseman Jordan Westburg.

Dean Kremer gets the call over veteran Kyle Gibson. He’s posted a 3.59 ERA in his last 26 starts.

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Lots of reflection as Orioles approach Game 3

Cedric Mullins

ARLINGTON, Texas – The Orioles are preparing for their first playoff game in Texas since the 2012 wild card game. They headed back to the visiting clubhouse that night and stepped into a champagne shower. A wild scene that left everyone soaked, including media that got too close.

I returned to the hotel, where I’m staying again this week, and the woman behind the desk handed me a plastic bag for my clothes. I didn’t say a word. She didn’t say a word. Just looked at me and understood.

The bubbly won’t be on ice with the Orioles down 2-0 in the Division Series. They need to win twice on the road and get back to Camden Yards for Game 5.

Cover the lockers and floor with plastic again or break out the boxes to be shipped home.

“This team’s pretty resilient,” said veteran starter Kyle Gibson. “They’re young, but they’ve got a lot of experience this year when it comes to playing in big games. None obviously as big as the one (tonight), but I think they’ll be able to draw on that experience and they’ll be all right.”

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Kremer starting Game 3 of ALDS

kremer white

ARLINGTON, Texas – Orioles manager Brandon Hyde knew that Dean Kremer wanted the ball in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. The high stakes, the confidence he brings to the mound, the impressive starts in two clinchers last month.

Hyde approached Kremer yesterday, prior to Game 2, and updated him on the team’s plans. He was the choice. But Hyde checked back this morning amid the violent conflict with Hamas in Israel, where at least 900 people were killed over the weekend in a surprise attack. Israel declared war on Sunday.

Kremer has Israeli dual citizenship and makes yearly visits to his family. He pitched for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic during spring training, his proudest moment in a baseball uniform.

“I saw him at breakfast this morning,” Hyde said at today’s workout at Globe Life Field. “We had a nice conversation. Gave him my support and sympathies for him and his family that's involved, and he seemed OK. He seemed like he was ready to pitch. He seemed like he felt comfortable with where his family situation was at with the whole thing.

“Obviously, he's very disturbed and there's a lot of things going on, but I didn't sense that it was going to affect (him). I think he's really looking forward to pitching tomorrow, so I didn't think it was going to affect him.”

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Orioles leftovers from Game 2 of ALDS

Anthony Santander orange jersey

The first batter that Yennier Cano faced last night in the top of the ninth inning, Rangers rookie Josh Jung, slapped a double down the right field line. Beyond the fence in left-center was veteran Kyle Gibson warming in the bullpen.

A reliever in an immediate jam. A starter perhaps getting ready to replace him.

What made it a curious situation was Gibson’s candidacy to start Game 3 of the Division Series Tuesday night in Arlington. Did manager Brandon Hyde show his hand?

Hyde told the media earlier in the day that he’d announce his starter during Monday’s workout, with the only choices Gibson or Dean Kremer. No one else qualified after John Means came down with elbow soreness that kept him off the roster.

Perhaps the decision hinged on whether the Orioles were down 0-2 or tied 1-1.

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Orioles move within game of elimination in ALDS following 11-8 loss (updated)


Grayson Rodriguez handed the ball to manager Brandon Hyde, walked to the dugout without raising his head and bolted down the steps. Too brisk a pace for teammates to reach out to him. Nothing they could have done anyway to soothe him.

The rookie was put in a tough spot. He didn’t make it through the second inning.

Can the Orioles make it past the Division Series?

They are teetering on the edge after today’s 11-8 loss to the Rangers in Game 2, played before an announced sellout crowd of 46,475 at Camden Yards. Aaron Hicks greeted José Leclerc with a three-run homer in the ninth, but the deficit was too large to overcome.

Mitch Garver hit a grand slam off Jacob Webb in the third after Bryan Baker walked the bases loaded. Nine runs on the board. A team in distress.

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Hyde explains Game 1 miscommunication, today's lineup decisions and his confidence in bounceback

hyde contemplating

The miscommunication yesterday that led to Gunnar Henderson’s failed stolen base attempt in the ninth inning of Game 1 was a missed sign by Aaron Hicks on a hit-and-run.

Manager Brandon Hyde explained the situation this afternoon during his daily media session.

Henderson broke for second base on a 2-1 count. José Leclerc’s changeup was called a ball, though he appeared to catch the outside corner, Henderson slowed on his way to second base and was thrown out.

Hicks fouled off the next pitch and then struck out.

“We just missed the hit-and-run sign there,” Hyde said. “That's just something that we've done a lot this year. Hicksy has been wonderful for us this entire season in so many ways. We do put runners in motion, we have to do things. We don’t hit a ton of homers. Trying to generate offense a little bit at times. And we bunt, we do the little things. And yesterday we just missed a sign in the ninth inning there. But that didn’t cost us the game. We had opportunities to score before that.

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Orioles and Rangers lineups for Game 2 of ALDS (plus notes)

rutschman scores game-winner v TB

A rookie will try to pull the Orioles away from the brink of elimination in the American League Division Series.

Following their Game 1 loss to the Rangers, the Orioles are starting right-hander Grayson Rodriguez this afternoon at chilly Camden Yards. Rodriguez made his first major league appearance in Arlington on April 5, allowing two runs in five innings. He also made his last against the Rangers before being optioned, surrendering eight earned runs and nine total in 3 1/3 innings on May 26 in Baltimore.

“You know, that feels like it was a year ago, honestly,” he said yesterday of his debut. “But, you know, just kind of learning how to be a pitcher in the big leagues, how to go about each and every day, I think is the big thing.”

So is starting again against your hometown team.

“Watched them a lot as a kid, a lot of Rangers and Astros games,” he said. “Just being able to face a team like that is pretty special to me. It's something I've been dreaming of for a while.”

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Orioles leftovers from Game 1 of ALDS

santander white

The Orioles can change their roster for the American League Championship Series if they get past the Rangers. A new set of decisions to make based on the opponent and matchups.

Time to reconsider whether to stay with only 12 pitchers.

Shintaro Fujinami sat on the Division Series bubble and it popped underneath him. His inconsistency in the strike zone, the bouts of wildness, convinced the Orioles to drop him.

Maybe there were other factors, but if the results matched the stuff, you’d think Fuji would be in the bullpen.

He appeared to have a small abrasion on his face yesterday at quick glance, and a Japanese reporter also noticed a mark on the pitcher’s hand. Of course, he asked manager Brandon Hyde about it. His beat consists of one player.

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Orioles lose Game 1 of Division Series 3-2 (updated)

Kyle Bradish ALDS Game 1 white

The sun finally came out at Camden Yards, followed by outfielders Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays.

The crowd erupted, less than an hour before first pitch. Two players jogging out of the dugout for pregame stretching eliciting cheers. The dam bursting after playoff excitement had been contained for so long.

Then came the scoreboard countdown to introductions, men and women decked out in orange gear waving towels of the same color. Adam Jones threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Mullins and kept motioning for the place to get louder, as if the volume button had another notch.

Kyle Bradish leaped over the first base line, pounded his fist in his glove and struck out Rangers leadoff hitter Marcus Semien on three pitches. The postseason returned to Baltimore and it didn’t enter quietly.

Orioles fans filed out that way. But there’s always tomorrow.

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More on Orioles' ALDS roster and being home for Game 1 (updated)

Hays and Santander celebrate

The Orioles knew in advance that they wanted to keep 14 position players and reduce their pitching staff to 12 for the American League Division Series.

They weren’t expecting John Means to be missing, his elbow soreness after Thursday’s simulated game creating an opening for reliever Bryan Baker.

Plan ahead and prepare to pivot.

Manager Brandon Hyde didn’t confirm that Means was going to start prior to the elbow issue, calling him “a candidate.” And he didn’t reveal who would take the mound for Game 3 Tuesday night in Arlington.

Dean Kremer and Kyle Gibson are locked into the rotation based on Means’ disappearance from it. One of them seemed to be headed to the bullpen.

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Elbow soreness prevents Means from joining Orioles' ALDS roster (plus lineups)

means returns v STL

John Means isn’t on the Orioles roster for the American League Division Series due to elbow soreness that cropped up after Thursday’s simulated game at Camden Yards.

Manager Brandon Hyde expressed confidence that Means would be ready for the Championship Series if the Orioles advance to the next round.

“Felt like he needed a few days off,” Hyde said.

“Meansy was going to be a candidate to start one of these games and it means we got … We feel great about our starting pitching depth. And Dean (Kremer) and Kyle Gibson both threw the ball extremely well this year. We're hoping that John can take a few days off, rehab, and hopefully if we can advance that he'll be available for the next series.

Hyde said the soreness isn’t “concerning.”

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Orioles bring same season vibe into playoffs


Adley Rutschman sat with a smile on his face for most of his 11 ½-minute session with the media yesterday. Happy to be in the playoffs. Able to enjoy the attention and focus that he usually tries to deflect. Thrilled to talk about his teammates and how they got here.

“I'm super excited,” he said. “This is a complete blessing to have an opportunity like this to play postseason baseball with a great group of guys in the stadium with an electric atmosphere. There's nothing more you can really ask for. The opportunity to do something like this is amazing. You kind of cherish it.”

“That's why I'm smiling,” he added, “and I just crushed a cold brew, so …”

Catcher turned caffeinated comedian.

If the Orioles are nervous about playing in the Division Series, with Game 1 today at 1:07 p.m., they’re doing a marvelous job of hiding it.

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Hyde: "Our clubhouse right now is pretty loud and seems very, very normal like the regular season" (updated)

hyde black

Players filtered onto the field earlier today to begin their workout leading into Saturday’s Game 1 of the American League Division Series. The batting cage set up. Ground balls hit to infielders. Pitchers throwing in the bullpen. Members of the grounds crew leaning against the dugout railing with arms folded, knowing they were in for a long day with the Rangers following the Orioles.

It seemed routine, like any other afternoon, which is what manager Brandon Hyde wanted and expected. The 163rd game in 2023 wasn’t rattling anyone’s cage.

“We have so much inexperience and so many guys that haven't had postseason experience,” Hyde said. “Just today I got to the park, it's really loose, and that's a great sign. Their workouts have gone really well the last few days. I don't feel any tension or guys feeling nervous about the games coming up. Our clubhouse right now is pretty loud and seems very, very normal like the regular season, and that's what I was hoping was going to happen.”  

The stands were empty but a sellout crowd is coming Saturday. Playoff baseball in Baltimore for the first time since 2014.

“It's been exciting,” said catcher Adley Rutschman. “It was cool to have fans out on Wednesday for the sim game and just feel the energy of people getting excited. I think we're excited for Saturday and ready to get going.

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