Webb on arbitration experience and chance to break camp with Orioles

SARASOTA, Fla. – Orioles reliever Jacob Webb earned his first win about seven weeks before Opening Day.

Webb was victorious in his arbitration hearing in Arizona, setting his 2024 salary at $1 million instead of the $925,000 filed by the club.

No hard feelings on either side. From Webb for having to go through the process or the Orioles for paying the extra $75,000.

“It was just business,” he said. “Just worrying about stuff I can control on the field. All that stuff, I let my agents take care of that side. I like to just focus on what I’m doing here and making sure I’m ready to go.

“You kind of have to be there for the hearing, and it was an interesting process. It was good to get a little win right there, but either way, I know the team’s not trying to do anything harmful or anything. I think it’s just part of the business and how it goes.”

The small gap in proposals seemed to indicate a simple solution, but Webb joined Austin Hays, also victorious, as the two Orioles who went to hearings.

“I thought originally we would come to terms after they had tendered me, but the business side of it get a little skewed sometimes and I try not to worry about it too much,” Webb said. “I try to just focus on baseball and being the best player I can be.”

Webb is competing for a spot in a bullpen that has a few more openings with the anticipated moves of Tyler Wells and Cole Irvin into the rotation. The Orioles selected him off waivers from the Angels in August and he posted a 3.27 ERA and 1.182 WHIP in 25 games during the regular season. He struck out 23 batters in 22 innings but also walked 10.

The only two home runs that Webb surrendered came against the Rangers in the Division Series.

The overall results could give Webb the inside track on a job, but he isn’t buying into it.

“I don’t allow myself to think that” he said. “I come in here, even if it wasn’t with this team, just coming into camp regardless ready to compete. I think if you think you just have a spot, at least from my personal experience, that’s when things go downhill. Just having a good mindset and ready to go and compete.”

We know the locks if healthy: Craig Kimbrel, Yennier Cano, Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez. That’s half of the bullpen, though early off-days on the schedule could cause an adjustment.

Webb, Bruce Zimmermann (if he isn’t starting), Dillon Tate, Mike Baumann, Bryan Baker, Keegan Akin, Nick Vespi, Jonathan Heasley, Wandisson Charles, Tucker Davidson, Albert Suárez, Andrew Suárez, Matt Krook and Kaleb Ort are in camp and competing. Tate, as I’ve reminded everyone, has two minor league options remaining but also a good shot if he’s back to 2022 form.

If you think executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias will go the rest of camp without massaging the roster again, you haven't been paying attention.

Charles has become a dark horse with his impressive velocity and high strikeout totals in the minors, but he averages 7.9 walks per nine innings and his mechanics tend to get out of whack.

Manager Brandon Hyde and his pitching coaches and instructors will make certain that everyone stays busy despite the numbers.

“I think we have four split-squads, that’s helpful in that area," he said. "We don’t have a very big camp, so I think we’ll find innings for everybody to evaluate them properly.”

Webb is expected to pitch again today in a live batting practice session, his second turn after Monday’s outing, when he induced a couple of weak ground balls and also gave up a projected double to Ramón Urías.

(Players don’t actually run the bases, so the double is assumed.)

“I felt like it went pretty good,” he said. “It wasn’t as sharp as I would like it, but just getting the feel back for all my pitches and learning every day.

“Me personally, I’m not paying too much attention to the radar gun right now. I’m just trying to feel how my pitches are supposed to feel and the quality of the pitch. I think going a little too hard on yourself right now can be not a good thing. Everyone’s here trying to compete and make the team, but for me, just the quality of what I’m doing.”

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