The move took a few dollars, but made so much sense

Maybe Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias looked at this only from an on-the-field standpoint. It made perfect sense to pick up the $3.5 million option and bring shortstop José Iglesias back in 2021. Yes, he missed time injured, but when he played, he played great and was almost indispensable.

He hit, he defended and he provided leadership.

But beyond the value he provides on the field, the move to bring him back will have other impact, too. It will calm a segment of the fan base that had concerns that economics would keep this from happening. With almost all teams cutting costs after the lack of fan revenue from 2020, some worried this would lead the Orioles to make a decision here more about dollars and less about baseball.

Did the O's add Yolmer Sánchez to put another shortstop in the mix anticipating that Iglesias would not return? Would Richie Martin be moved there to save a few dollars? No and no.

In baseball terms, the salary of Iglesias is on the lower end, pandemic or not. For what he provided, the salary might be considered a bargain. Starting the offseason by not retaining Iglesias would have set a negative public relations tone for the club. You shouldn't make baseball decisions based on how it will play with the fans and that didn't happen here, I'm sure. It's just a nice bonus.

Anyone could see what Iglesias meant to the team and how his bat was magic at times this year. He hit better then we had a right to expect. His defense was as good as advertised. Where once there were rumors about Iglesias not being a clubhouse positive, those proved totally unfounded. He was a plus for the Orioles in almost all respects.

In picking up the option, Elias also sends a good message to the clubhouse. The players surely realize the club is still in rebuilding mode and are not expecting any big free agent signings. But going backward here could have been deflating for players, too. The pitchers should be especially happy about the move.

Thumbnail image for Iglesias-Celebrates-with-Hyde-Sidebar.jpgIglesias, over 39 games and 150 plate appearances, hit .373/.400/.556 with an OPS of .956. He led the club in Wins Above Replacement at 1.6 per He led all of baseball with a .476 average with runners on base and ranked tied for fifth with a .421 average with runners in scoring position. He also led the majors, posting a .359 expected batting average, according to Statcast, and ranked second in the American League in doubles. Among Orioles with 100 or more plate appearances, he led the club in batting average, OBP and OPS.

Iglesias' offense far exceeded his production of previous seasons, which consisted of many more games. His previous best OPS was .735 over 109 games in 2013. Of course, some falloff would be expected over a six-month season. But after batting .269 in 2018 and .288 (with an OPS of .724) in 2019, maybe his bat is trending up.

Sometimes teams make decisions that are hard to understand or explain. They may make sense in a way that we can't quite completely comprehend. Not bringing back Iglesias would have probably fit into one or both of those categories. Now no one has to ponder that or wonder what the team was thinking. The move was made and Iglesias is coming back.

Any fans that were concerned, can now relax. Onto the rest of the offseason.

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