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.
Reliever Gregg Olson was the last Oriole to win the award in 1989. First baseman Ryan Mountcastle was sixth last year.
Rutschman debuted on May 21 as baseball’s No. 1 prospect and slashed .254/.362/.445 with 35 doubles, 13 home runs and 42 RBIs in 113 games. He led the club with 65 walks in 470 plate appearances and had the highest WAR at 5.2 per Baseball-Reference.com and 5.3 per FanGraphs.com.
Hardware isn’t required to appreciate his value.
Rutschman will handle a heavier workload in 2023 simply by breaking camp with the team and, we’ll assume, avoiding another spring injury that requires more days off.
Rest can come with Rutschman serving as the designated hitter, though players will rotate in that spot.
Only two catchers remain on the 40-man roster, making a backup one of the offseason priorities. The Orioles kept Anthony Bemboom in the organization after outrighting him again, and he’ll receive a spring training invite, but Aramis Garcia and Cam Gallagher elected free agency.
Triple-A catchers Jacob Nottingham and Brett Cumberland also entered free agency. Maybe one or both are re-signed. Maybe not. Can’t count on it.
Nottingham never returned to the majors this year except for the taxi squad after losing out to Bemboom for the backup job behind Robinson Chirinos. Cumberland was acquired from the Braves in the Kevin Gausman/Darren O’Day trade in 2018.
Left-hander Bruce Zimmermann is the only remaining player from that deal. Reliever Evan Phillips was released in August 2021. Infielder JC Encarnación spent the 2022 season with the independent York Revolution.
The Orioles must decide whether to protect Double-A catcher Maverick Handley in the Rule 5 draft. The deadline is Tuesday to set the 40-man roster, with only outside players allowed to join it later.
Reliever Rico Garcia also became a free agent last week, and he signed a minor league deal with the Athletics. Garcia appeared in six games with the Orioles this season and posted a 4.50 ERA in eight innings.
Update: Rodriguez won the Rookie of the Year award with 29 of 30 first-place votes. Rutschman finished second with one first-place vote, 18 second and nine third.
Rutschman receives a full year of service time.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca gave Rutschman a first-place vote. Tom Withers of the Associated Press in Cleveland and Vahe Gregorian of the Kansas City Star didn't include Rutschman on their ballots.