The Orioles completed most of their arbitration business on Friday and made another sizeable splash two days later in the international market.
There isn’t much left to do besides get the camp roster ready for spring training.
Austin Voth is the only player among the six arbitration eligibles who didn’t agree to terms. He’s seeking $2 million and the Orioles countered at $1.7 million.
A hearing could be held in late January or February, with a three-person panel determining the salary. There are no compromises if it reaches this stage.
Voth would be an interesting case given the splits in his season between the Nationals and Orioles. The 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances versus the 3.04 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 22 games (17 starts) for a team that contended until the final week.
Whatever Voth is paid, and the smallish gap would suggest there's middle ground to tread prior to a hearing if the Orioles aren’t strict with their file-and-go policy, the right-hander has a chance to be a valuable contributor again on the pitching staff.
The Orioles will stretch him out in camp to start or be used in long relief. They’ll need the innings out of the bullpen to counter the numerous short men.
Yesterday was devoted to the international side of the operation, with the Orioles announcing 27 signings led by 16-year-old shortstop Luis Ayden Almeyda, who received a franchise record $2.3 million bonus.
Almeyda was the 17th-ranked international prospect per Baseball America and 20th per MLBPipeline.com. He was born in Paterson, N.J. and moved with his family to the Dominican Republic at age 15.
A total of 13 players signed for $100,000 or more. The 27 overall signings tied the club record.
Fourteen players are from the Dominican Republic, 11 from Venezuela, and one each from Colombia and Cuba. The class includes nine pitchers, eight infielders, six catchers and four outfielders.
You can read all about it here.
Senior director of international scouting Koby Perez said the Orioles have about $500,000 left in their $5,825,500 bonus pool.
“We always like to keep a little bit when we can,” he said. “Last year we tried, but (infielder) César Prieto popped up, so we spent it on him. We always want to keep roughly some money, because some of these kids come on late, some kids just defect from these places. We always like to have a little bit on the reserve just to make sure that we can play on some of these late bloomers or guys that pop up.”
The Orioles used to be spectators on international signing day, but a huge component of the rebuild strategy was hiring Perez and creating a presence and a pipeline.
“I feel real good about it,” he said. “We’ve been at it here and signing kids, and they’re starting to get up the line. A couple of the kids have gotten into High-A already. It takes time.
“It’s like when you’re growing a plant. You plant the seed, you can’t see anything, and then once the flowers start blooming, they become real pretty and nice. And that’s kind of where I feel that we’re at, where the seed is starting to pop up and come up from under the ground, and hopefully in the near future it will be a nice, big flower, and we’ll feel really, really good about the work that’s been done.”
* The new Dominican Academy is expected to open later this year. Perez, executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias and assistant general manager of baseball operations Eve Rosenbaum were in the Dominican yesterday to tour the construction site.
“I think we’re going to have good news on that soon,” Perez said.
The 22.5-acre, state-of-the-art complex is a nice recruiting tool.
“We have a whole video that we show the kids where they’ll be and the facilities that they’ll be able to have when coming home or when they’re playing in the league. They have facilities that will be equal to what we have in Florida,” Perez said.
“We feel that it’s definitely an advantage when we present that opportunity to these players. We want to give everybody a fair shake to develop them as best as they can, and by having the best facilities really does that.”
* Lewin Díaz was designated for assignment on Wednesday and there hasn’t been a resolution. It should come within the next few days.
The Orioles claimed Díaz off waivers from the Pirates Dec. 2 and traded him to the Braves three weeks later for cash considerations. The selected him off waivers again Jan. 5 and may try to pass him through and deepen the camp competition that includes Ryan O’Hearn, who accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Norfolk.
* Former Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini agreed to a two-year, $14 million deal with the Cubs on Saturday that includes a possible $7 million in incentives and an opt-out, according to an ESPN report.
The Orioles didn’t engage in serious talks with Mancini. They want to keep the designated hitter spot fluid and are focusing on left-handed hitters to potentially back up Ryan Mountcastle.
The Cubs host the Orioles on June 16-18.
* The Orioles are hosting a press conference this morning at the warehouse that includes chairman and CEO John Angelos, Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, CollegeBound Foundation Executive Director Cassie Motz and CollegeBound Foundation Board Chair Alicia Wilson.
The team’s news release described the nature of the conference as “a conversation about the long-term reinvestment in Baltimore igniting the next Baltimore renaissance.”
I'll have more on that later today.