Some arbitration talk and the search for a new pitching coach

While we wait to find out which teams will play in the World Series and, if you’re me, continue to think about how the Orioles could have duplicated the Blue Jays’ ouster of the Rangers had they gotten past the wild card round, MLBTradeRumors.com released its projected arbitration figures.

The budget for executive vice president Dan Duquette this winter will include raises for a significant portion of the Orioles’ 10 eligible players.

Here’s the list:

Chris Tillman - $10.6MM
Ryan Flaherty - $1.7MM
Zach Britton - $11.4MM
Vance Worley - $3.3MM
Brad Brach - $2.9MM
Manny Machado - $11.2MM
Jonathan Schoop - $3.4MM
T.J. McFarland - $700K
Kevin Gausman - $3.9MM
Caleb Joseph - $1.0MM

Tillman made $6.225 million this season, won 16 games and lowered his ERA from 4.99 last year to 3.77 in 2016. His WHIP dropped from 1.387 in 173 innings to 1.285 in 172 innings.

Tillman is entering his free agent season and the Orioles are expected to approach his agent again about an extension. This would be the third attempt, according to Duquette. I know the first one didn’t advance past preliminary discussions and an offer that served more as a starting point than anything serious.

A rotation that begins with Tillman and continues with Gausman and Dylan Bundy offers lots of promise. How the rest sorts out is to be determined. And Duquette still would like to find another starter despite six current candidates for five spots.

Gausman made $532,000 this year and now is arbitration-eligible. It’s time to really get paid.

Machado knows all about huge raises after going from $548,000 in 2015 to $5 million this season. What’s coming next is more than a bump. That’s too mild of a word. Being struck by an 18-wheeler going downhill is more than a bump.

zach-britton-in-white-close-Sidebar.pngBritton’s case brings significant intrigue because he already went from $3.2 million in 2015 to $6.750 million this season and his historic season could earn him the Cy Young Award in the American League. How much do the Orioles want to pay a closer?

They’re willing to go higher with Britton than Jim Johnson, who was a candidate to be non-tendered in 2013 before the Orioles traded him to the Athletics. Johnson made $10 million in 2014, the figure projected by his former club.

Schoop is arbitration-eligible now and due a hefty raise after making $522,500 this season. Another no-brainer for the Orioles, who will, as manager Buck Showalter says, assume the position.

Don’t dwell on it.

Brach’s salary increased from $523,000 in 2015 to $1.25 million in his first year of arbitration. In the unlikely event that the sides go to a hearing, Brach’s agent will focus on how his client posted a 0.91 ERA and 0.831 WHIP in the first half while making the All-Star team, and the Orioles will linger on second-half numbers that included a 3.94 ERA and 1.382 WHIP.

However you work the numbers, he’s earned another nice jump in pay.

Joseph figures to be the backup catcher again at the very least, and his role could increase if Matt Wieters leaves via free agency. He wants to forget about the 2016 season, which includes a stint on the disabled list with an injury that makes my eyes water just typing it, so I won’t today. He hit .174/.216/.197 and failed to get an RBI, though the attention he received for it was a bit excessive, considering he played in 49 games and made only six starts in September/October.

The three remaining Orioles aren’t in the driver’s seat. The question is whether any of them will be kicked to the curb.

The Orioles are trying to decide how much they want to pay a super-utility player and whether Flaherty has reached the financial point where they need to search elsewhere. The sides settled at $1.5 million in January after Flaherty made $1.075 million in 2015. A bump to $1.7 million would qualify as modest, but perhaps still too much.

Flaherty hit .217/.291/.318 in 157 at-bats, but again, his value lies in his plus defense at multiple positions and his ability to play just about all of them. We haven’t seen him catch.

Showalter often says that you can cut ties with a certain player, but you’ll spend all winter looking for that same guy. He’s used Triple-A shortstop Paul Janish as an example and Flaherty also fits. But is there someone out there with a similar defensive skill set who comes cheaper?

The Orioles are going to check. They’re not committed to bringing back Flaherty despite how much they appreciate his versatility.

McFarland is trying to hold onto his spot on the 40-man roster and is a non-tender candidate after registering a 6.93 ERA and 1.743 WHIP in 16 relief appearances. He didn’t make it back up in September.

If the Orioles handed out an Unsung Hero Award, I’d be inclined to favor Worley for filling a variety of roles and bailing them out when others failed. It’s not easy working on extended rest and staying sharp, but Worley posted a 3.53 ERA in 35 games, including four starts. He had a 3.20 ERA as a reliever. He’s a grinder, and while it’s not pretty, his contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Worley is happy in Baltimore and proud that he handled the challenges that came from bouncing all over a game on any given night, but he also knows that he may be deemed too expensive after earning $2.6 million in 2016. Don’t be surprised if he’s in another uniform next year, a sad development for lovers of The Vanimal.

* The Orioles are in the extreme early stages of their search for a new pitching coach and you’re going to see the media throw a lot of names against the wall. It happens every time there’s an opening.

The club already is receiving a bunch of calls. Interest in the job will be intense.

I predicted that the hire would come from outside the organization, but serious consideration will be given to internal candidates, including bullpen coach Dom Chiti and Double-A Bowie pitching coach Alan Mills.

Mike Griffin is highly respected for his work at Triple-A Norfolk, which makes the Orioles reluctant to remove him. They love having him tied to their pitchers at the top affiliate.

I don’t expect director of pitching development Rick Peterson to be interviewed.

The Orioles are fortunate to have so many quality coaches and instructors working with their pitchers in various capacities, including special assignment pitching instructor Ramon Martinez and pitching rehabilitation coordinator Scott McGregor, who will at least be discussed.

As for external possibilities, Roger McDowell is expected to be interviewed after the Braves let him go. Andy Hawkins was among four finalists before the Orioles hired Dave Wallace, but don’t automatically assume that he’s back in the running. It’s an understanable leap, but not necessarily accurate.

Showalter inherited Rick Kranitz in 2010 and really likes and respects him, but he’s not expected to leave the Phillies, where he served as bullpen coach this year. You can leave him off your early lists unless you’re feeling nostalgic.

The Orioles anticipate that the rest of their coaches will return next season, but they’d need Chiti, if he doesn’t replace Wallace, to be comfortable with the new hire. They’d be working closely together. It’s not like Wallace only handled the starters and Chiti the relievers.

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