The offseason can provide various doses of drama as important dates drop off the calendar. For the Orioles, the qualifying offer process should be duller than an insurance seminar.
Teams must decide whether to extend the offer to its free agents within five days after the World Series. The Orioles should have 11 players on the market and none of them are expected to receive it.
Only five players in the past five seasons have accepted the offer, including former Orioles catcher Matt Wieters in 2015. It’s worth $17.4 million this year.
MLBTradeRumors.com projected in late August that Jake Arrieta, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Lance Lynn and Mike Moustakas were the easy calls to receive and decline the offer, and Masahiro Tanaka could join them if he opted out of his contract with the Yankees.
Not an Oriole to be found.
Pitcher Jeremy Hellickson is immune on two counts. Under the new collective bargaining agreement, no player can receive the offer twice and Hellickson accepted it last winter while pitching for the Phillies. Also, the old rule applies that only players on the same team for an entire season are eligible for it, and the Orioles acquired Hellickson in July.
The Orioles are expected to decline the $12 million option on left-hander Wade Miley and the $14 million option on shortstop J.J. Hardy, enabling them to enter the market. They checked on Miley’s interest in a one-year deal. Hardy will seek an opportunity for semi-regular playing time, at the least, which he can’t get in Baltimore with Tim Beckham at shortstop.
Catcher Welington Castillo is expected to decline the $7 million option on his contract and seek a multi-year deal, which he should be able to land after batting .282/.323/.490 with 20 home runs in 96 games and throwing out 49 percent of runners trying to steal. He’s prime rib on a tofu burger market.
Ubaldo Jiménez has started his last game for the Orioles. His four-year, $50 million deal has expired. He registered a 5.22 ERA and 1.496 WHIP and occasionally was pulled from the rotation. The goodbye hugs with teammates and club employees in the visiting clubhouse at Tropicana Field were legit. He’s a goner.
Chris Tillman could be re-signed to a one-year deal if he’s agreeable. He made $10.05 million this season.
The Orioles need a left-handed bat because they lean so heavily to the right, but they figure to let Seth Smith walk. His .340 on-base percentage led the team (I’m not counting Beckham’s .348 OBP in 50 games). He basically gave the team his track record. They won’t risk a $17.4 million commitment.
Ryan Flaherty long ago gained the respect and trust of manager Buck Showalter, but seldom-used utility infielders don’t get that kind of coin.
Showalter would like to bring back outfielder Craig Gentry for his bench. They probably can’t create a spot for Pedro Álvarez if Mark Trumbo is the primary designated hitter. Unlike Flaherty, Álvarez offers no versatility with the glove.
Rubén Tejada elected earlier this month to test the market, qualifying because of his service time. He’s been added to MLBTradeRumors.com’s list of major league free agents.
The Orioles outrighted Tejada on Aug. 17 and would seem to have interest in a reunion only if it’s a minor league deal.
Most, if not all, of the players in this group will be wearing a different uniform next season. Tillman could have the best chance of returning if he’s unable to get a multi-year deal from a club that really expects him to bounce back.