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.
Lyles made a career-high 32 starts and went 12-11 with a 4.42 ERA and 1.385 WHIP in 179 innings, one short of tying his high set last year with the Rangers. He registered 13 quality starts and emerged as the leader of an inexperienced staff.
Starters wore T-shirts on Father’s Day featuring Lyles’ face and the phrase “Best Dad Ever.” They gave him a shirt with “No. 1 Dad” printed on it.
“I can’t tell you how great Jordan Lyles has been to our pitching staff,” said Spenser Watkins, “and how to be a professional and how to take the ball every fifth day or take the ball when you’re called and go about your business the right way.”
“Lyles is a machine,” said outfielder Austin Hays. “The guy goes out there and just crushes seven innings every start.”
Lyles, 32, expressed his desire to stay with the Orioles when asked on Oct. 1 at Yankee Stadium.
“I would love to be back here,” he said. “To see what we’ve done in the last calendar year as an organization, from what was expected of us coming into the season, and the transition to be where we are right now, it’s pretty special. I enjoy the guys. Hyder (Brandon Hyde) has been amazing. Definitely Manager of the Year in my eyes. A good clubhouse. Everything is positive here. I would love to come back.
“I knew what I signed up for. I knew what we had coming up, young guys-wise. How talented we were. They didn’t pitch well the year prior to me signing here. I thought one of those five days I could help that.
“Winning is winning and we were starting to win, and obviously having more fun as winning comes. I’ve enjoyed my whole time here. There’s nothing to complain about. There’s no negativity. A bunch of positives.”
John Means underwent Tommy John surgery and might not return before June. His timetable is unknown, but he’s reporting to the spring training complex in Sarasota after Jan. 1 to begin ramping up his throwing program.
Watkins, Tyler Wells, Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Austin Voth, DL Hall, top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, Mike Baumann and Bruce Zimmermann are options to start from the current roster. Rodriguez is expected to break camp with the team after recovering from his lat injury and appearing in minor league games in September.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is in Las Vegas for the GM Meetings that conclude on Thursday and he’s in the market for at least one veteran starter. The Orioles would like to add a potential No. 1, especially in Means’ absence.
Lyles is the fourth major league free agent from the Orioles, joining second baseman Rougned Odor, catcher Robinson Chirinos and first baseman Jesús Aguilar. None of them are expected to return.
Note: The 40-man roster increased to 34 players today after the Orioles claimed outfielder Daz Cameron, 25, off waivers from the Tigers.
Cameron is the son of former major league outfielder Mike Cameron. Elias chose him as the 37th-overall pick in the 2015 draft with the Astros.
Cameron appeared in 21 games this season and batted .219/.286/.344 with three doubles, one triple and one home run. He's hit .201/.266/.330 in 73 games over parts of three major league seasons.
The Tigers acquired Cameron from the Astros in the 2017 Justin Verlander deal.