Armchair general managers must always check their cell reception after walking into a mall to do some holiday shopping. Can’t miss an important call or text.
I literally took a few steps inside the Columbia Mall on Monday, scrolled Twitter and found breaking news about Mychal Givens reaching agreement with the Orioles.
Rookie mistake to leave the laptop at home.
I went to bed last night and received notifications on my phone about the Orioles acquiring catcher James McCann from the Mets for a player to be named later, which no longer makes Anthony Bemboom the favorite to back up Adley Rutschman.
At least I was near my laptop.
McCann made six starts at first base with the Mets over two seasons, so he also could back up Ryan Mountcastle.
The Orioles are paying only $5 million of the $24 million remaining on McCann's contract and have him under control through 2024. As others reported, the PTBNL isn't expected to be one of the more highly regarded minor leaguers in the system. However you choose to interpret that nugget.
So, you’re running the front office and the roster still needs some work. What’s next?
I already posed seven questions: Whether you’d re-sign first baseman Jesús Aguilar, whether you’d pick up Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option (the Orioles didn’t), whether you’d trade an outfielder, whether you’d stay in-house for a backup catcher (the Orioles didn't), whether you’d attempt to re-sign Rougned Odor, whether you’d stay in-house for a shortstop (sure looks that way), and whether you’d make a selection in the Rule 5 draft (the Orioles did).
Here are two more:
Would you just stick with your starter options rather than sign another veteran to a one-year deal?
There’s a third option, of course. Trade for a starter who can pitch on Opening Day. But I’m removing it for the sake of this exercise.
Kyle Gibson is the only starter signed to a major league deal, with $10 million headed his way in 2023. Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells and Grayson Rodriguez, in whatever order, would join him in the most common rotation projections heading into the holidays.
DL Hall is lurking, of course. He shouldn’t be an automatic bullpen move. The Orioles will have him built up to start.
There’s also Austin Voth, Mike Baumann, Spenser Watkins and Bruce Zimmermann. Perhaps a little too soon for Drew Rom, but he’s on the 40-man.
The lack of veteran major leaguers, guys who have turned in fully productive seasons rather than halves, is glaring. But is it detrimental?
You must decide.
The limits on spending can’t be erased while you’re the general manager. Otherwise, you already would have signed Carlos Rodón and Justin Verlander.
The remaining free agent list isn’t filled with No. 1 starters. Not even halfway. Not even a quarter. But there are veterans with varying track records, guys who can consume innings the way Jordan Lyles did in 2022 and Gibson is supposed to do in 2023.
Lyles is headed to Kansas City on a two-year deal, or one more than I expected him to receive. He’s out.
Are you in on a free agent or more willing to roll the dice with the in-house crew?
Do you consider trading Jorge Mateo?
The subject came up again when The Athletic reported that the Orioles “began receiving inquiries” on Mateo after the Cubs signed Dansby Swanson, the last of the big four shortstops on the market.
Here’s where I traditionally tap the brakes. Listening isn’t the same as peddling. Of course, teams are checking on his availability. Of course, Mike Elias is answering his phone.
Make him an offer and he’ll decide how to react, knowing that the position is in trustworthy hands if Mateo stays and there are other options if he goes, with Gunnar Henderson and Ramón Urías two possibilities and the Triple-A roster holding Joey Ortiz and Jordan Westburg.
It’s not like the Orioles would demand a shortstop in return or have to go on a shortstop search. They’d be dealing from a position of strength.
Mateo proved to be a plus defender, as noticed by the Fielding Bible, and he led the American League in steals. Bigger bases and pickoff restrictions make him a larger threat next season. And he’s affordable.
Good reasons why teams are calling. Good reasons to hold onto him, with Henderson being the primary third baseman and Urías taking his Gold Glove to second or hauling it around the infield.
Maybe put it on wheels.
Whether you’d trade Mateo probably hinges on the return, but I’m asking if you’d consider it or just plan on having him in the Opening Day lineup.