Deadline day for Orioles to reach agreements with arbitration players (updated)

The Orioles have reached the point today where they must agree to contract terms with six arbitration-eligible players or risk hearings to determine 2023 salaries.

Outfielders Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and Austin Hays, infielder Jorge Mateo and pitchers Austin Voth and Dillon Tate were tendered contracts at the deadline. They remain under team control, the most important order of business.

It’s unlikely that the Orioles sign all six players before exchanging figures, but they’re expected to announce some agreements later today. I’m placing the over/under at three.

Make it rain.

Hearings typically are set during spring training. The Orioles have joined other teams operating under the file-and-go approach, but they make exceptions, with Trey Mancini and John Means serving as examples last year.

Santander is the only player to be subjected to a hearing since Mike Elias entered the front office. He lost in 2021. projects that Santander will earn $7.5 million this year, the highest figure among the group, after he included 33 home runs, 89 RBIs, 55 walks, a .318 on-base percentage and 152 games played among his career highs. The switch-hitter made $3.15 million last year after agreeing to terms and avoiding arbitration.

Mullins earned $716,000 last season after becoming the first 30/30 player in franchise history in 2021. He’s projected to receive a bump to $4.4 million after batting .258/.318/.403 with 32 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, 64 RBIs and 34 stolen bases that ranked second to Mateo in the American League. He also was a finalist for a Gold Glove.

Hays also is first-time eligible after batting .250/.306/.413 with 35 doubles, two triples, 16 home runs and 60 RBIs in a career-high 145 games. He made $713,000 and could receive $3.1 million, per Trade Rumors.

Mateo led the league with 35 steals, won a Fielding Bible Award at shortstop and slashed .221/.267/.379 with 25 doubles, seven triples, 13 home runs and 50 RBIs in 150 games, also the most in his career. He earned $709,500 before reaching eligibility and is projected to receive $1.8 million.

Voth had a split season in 2022, posting a 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances with the Nationals and a 3.04 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 22 games (17 starts) after the Orioles selected him off waivers. He avoided arbitration last offseason by signing for $875,000 and is projected to earn $2 million.

Tate could get a raise from $711,500 to $1.5 million after appearing in a career-high 67 games, which led the Orioles, and registering a 3.05 ERA and 0.991 WHIP with five saves in 73 2/3 innings.   

The starting outfield is set with Hays in left, Mullins in center and Santander in right. Impressive depth at the position, including 2021 first-rounder Colton Cowser, who could debut this summer, doesn’t seem to be pushing the Orioles toward a trade. Mullins and Santander, in particular, draw interest around the majors, but the Orioles are trying to contend this season.

Santander is in their first base plans, especially if they don’t acquire a left-handed-hitting backup for Ryan Mountcastle who projects ahead of the current group of contenders.

Mateo can play shortstop and second base in an infield that should be placed on wheels. Lots of movement. Right now he’s expected to be the opening day shortstop again.

The Orioles would like to get more out of him offensively than the month-long burst of 2022, but they’ll take the speed and defense. They’ll also listen to any shortstop-hungry teams that call.

Tate’s role is clear. He’s a high-leverage reliever who’s used anywhere from the sixth to ninth innings. No other specifics are necessary.

The eight-man bullpen contains five certainties – Tate, Félix Bautista, Mychal Givens, Bryan Baker and Cionel Pérez – and a bunch of possibilities. DL Hall would provide a second left-hander, as well as a really special arm that could invade the rotation if there’s space and he’s lights out in camp.

Voth is a useful piece, whether near the back end of the rotation or in long relief. The poster child for the organization’s pitching instruction. A successful weight loss plan for an ERA.

Update: Mullins agreed to a $4.1 million contract and Anthony Santander received $7.4 million, as first reported by The Athletic.

The Orioles haven't confirmed any deals, so another update is coming later.

Update II: Voth is the only player among the six who remains unsigned.

The Orioles reached agreements with Hays and Mateo, per sources, and with Tate for $1.5 million per The Baltimore Banner.

Update III: The Orioles will exchange figures with Voth.

Hays receives $3.2 million and Mateo $2 million, per The Athletic.

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