The Orioles’ list of arbitration-eligible players will be reduced with the decision to place infielder Jace Peterson on outright waivers.
Peterson made $900,000 this season and MLBTradeRumors.com projects a raise to $1.3 million. The Orioles will look to carry a utility infielder at a reduced cost and it could be Peterson under a restructured deal.
This is partly about money and partly about the need to clear room on the 40-man roster. The Orioles have five players who will need to be activated from the 60-day disabled list and they’ll need to protect certain guys prior to the Rule 5 draft, including pitchers Dillon Tate and Branden Kline and catcher Martin Cervenka.
Left-hander Luis Gonzalez also is a possibility.
We’ve gone over how infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph are non-tender candidates. Jonathan Villar is projected to have his salary rise from $2.55 million to $4.4 million while the Orioles figure out whether he’s a second baseman or shortstop.
* Teams were idle yesterday in the Arizona Fall League, but Ryan McKenna raised his average to .378 Saturday by going 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs scored for the Glendale Desert Dogs.
McKenna led off again and played center field.
A scout from outside the organization who watched McKenna at Double-A Bowie back in August labeled him a “classic extra outfielder” based on the ability to play all three outfield spots and being a plus-athlete. The scout added that McKenna will hit “enough” and can help a club with his glove, bat and legs.
The Orioles are learning whether McKenna can become an everyday player. He’s still in full evaluation mode.
McKenna, who turns 22 on Feb. 14, batted .377/.467/.556 in 67 games at Single-A Frederick and was an early favorite to win the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year Award, but he slashed .239/.341/.338 in 60 games with the Baysox. He combined for 26 doubles, four triples, 11 home runs and 53 RBIs.
* The Orioles continue to dig through the international market while holding the most signing bonus slots in baseball.
Another example involves John Stockstill, one of the organization’s major league scouts. Stockstill currently is in Korea.
The Orioles won’t find a Victor Victor Mesa in Korea, but that’s mostly because he’s Cuban.
* As Walker Buehler plowed through the Red Sox lineup in Game 3 of the World Series, I was reminded why the Dodgers turned down the Orioles’ proposals in Manny Machado talks.
I’ve heard that the Orioles would have traded Machado at last year’s Winter Meetings if the Dodgers handed over Buehler, their top pitching prospect who shut out the Red Sox on two hits over seven innings Friday night, walking none and striking out seven.
The Dodgers wouldn’t budge and continued to turn them down as the non-waiver deadline approached. Machado ended up with the Dodgers, of course, with the Orioles taking starter Dean Kremer, reliever Zach Pop, outfielder Yusniel Díaz, and infielders Breyvic Valera and Rylan Bannon.
Kremer led the minors in strikeouts this year with 178 in 131 1/3 innings, including 53 in 45 1/3 innings with Bowie. He’s turns 23 in January and former manager Buck Showalter believes the right-hander could handle a spot in the major league rotation in 2019.
No one is predicting that Kremer will turn into the next Buehler, but the Orioles weren’t getting any of the Dodgers’ elite pitching prospects, especially with Machado becoming a rental.
Today’s question: The topic was broached again yesterday in the comments section, but I’ll lay it out here.
Would you prefer a veteran executive with a track record to head the front office, someone in the mold of Ned Colletti or Doug Melvin, or a younger first-timer?
It’s acceptable to split your answer if, for example, you want one type as president of baseball operations and another as general manager.