Orioles won’t leave their tender moments alone

As the organization undergoes its makeover, decisions must be made regarding arbitration-eligible players and whether to extend contracts for 2019. The non-tender deadline is Nov. 30, giving the Orioles plenty of time to figure it out.

A new high-ranking executive should be in place to handle it.

Starter Dylan Bundy, reliever Mychal Givens and infielder Jonathan Villar are the no-brainers to receive contract offers. The Orioles aren’t letting them hit free agency.

The only questions pertaining to the trio are where Bundy slots in the rotation next April, whether Givens is the closer and whether Villar, who made $2.55 million this year, is the second baseman or shortstop. No one is regarding them as untouchable on the trade front, but they’re expected to break camp with the team.

I’ve written about the decision that’s pending with infielder Tim Beckham, who made $3.35 million while batting .230/.287/.374 with 17 doubles, 12 home runs and 35 RBIs in 96 games. He hit .297/.348/.484 with three doubles and three home runs in 69 plate appearances in September.

With Villar getting more starts at shortstop down the stretch, Beckham went 8-for-26 (.308) with one double and two home runs in seven games as the designated hitter.

Beckham could be pushed out of the lineup and another increase in salary makes him a non-tender candidate. Former manager Buck Showalter - the first time I’ve referenced him as such - never got comfortable with Beckham’s defense and therefore didn’t see him fitting in a utility role. And certainly not at that cost.

joseph-looking-over-in-gear-white-sidebar.jpgCatcher Caleb Joseph also falls into the non-tender category after making $1.25 million as a Super Two in his second year of arbitration eligibility, batting .219/.254/.321 in 82 games and spending part of his summer at Triple-A Norfolk. He also stirred up the clubhouse with comments about the sloppy play and accountability.

“I’ll say this: Good, dependable catching is hard to find and it does cost a lot of money to find that,” Joseph said.

“I’d like to be back. I’ve obviously made that clear. I care about this organization a lot. It’s not just lip service. I actually care. I care about winning and losing. I’ve seen the city at its best and want to be a part of that. Now, they’re going to have to make decisions and you understand that.

“I don’t have any indications right now. Sooner than later, though, with those tender and non-tender dates. I’d like to be back. We’ll see, right? I don’t have any indications. They haven’t offered me an extension, so you know ...”

We know that Joseph maintains a killer sense of humor.

Catcher Andrew Susac returned to the 40-man roster after the Orioles removed him from the restricted list, his landing spot after packing up his belongings at Triple-A Norfolk and heading home with his fractured wrist. Former executive vice president Dan Duquette - the first time I’ve referenced him as such - acquired Susac in a Feb. 2 trade with the Brewers and was the former top prospect’s staunchest supporter.

Duquette is gone and it’s hard to fathom a scenario where the Orioles tender Susac a contract, especially while needing to create more room on the 40-man.

Joey Rickard is an interesting case. How much do the Orioles want to pay a fourth or fifth outfielder?

Rickard made $545,000 last season and won’t get a huge bump in pay after batting .244/.300/.413 in 79 games. He’s a career .252/.298/.376 hitter in three seasons covering 789 plate appearances since the Orioles selected him from the Rays organization in the Rule 5 draft.

Showalter appreciated Rickard’s speed and ability to play all three spots in the outfield, knowing a defensive upgrade when one appears, but also found him easily replaceable, with veteran Craig Gentry the usual choice when healthy.

Rickard has hopped on the shuttle between the majors and Triple-A since completing his Rule 5 obligations. He needs to be on the roster for every series against the Rays, with his career .309/.330/.564 slash line in 33 games. He was 16-for-38 (.421) this season with four doubles, one triple, four of his eight home runs and 17 of his 23 RBIs.

Spotrac.com also lists utility player Jace Peterson and left-hander Sean Gilmartin as eligible for arbitration.

Peterson would be thrust into a super utility competition that, at least right now, includes Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson. Showalter really liked Peterson’s attitude and versatility, believing that he could have fit on the playoff teams, as well, but someone else will be deciding whether he belongs on the 2019 roster.

Gilmartin presents a starter option if he sticks around, though his value as a long reliever intensified over the final month. He allowed only two runs and nine hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in his last four appearances covering 13 2/3 innings.

“I really like the fact that he pitches four or five innings in a time of need,” Showalter said last month when asked whether Gilmartin could compete as a starter in spring training. “There’s a possibility. I’ve thought about that. The old thing, never overlook an orchid while searching for a rose.

“This guy at one time was a No. 1 pick. He was well thought of. He’s a guy who’s really come in here and tried ... you can tell he’s on a mission to try to think good things about him during the offseason. In some cases he’s pitching better up here than he might have down there. You try to keep that in mind.”

* In the latest round of minor league transactions in Baseball America, pitcher Jhan Mariñez and infielder Luis Sardiñas are listed among the players electing free agency.

Mariñez is going to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, a group that also includes left-hander Luis Gonzalez, catcher Audry Perez, first baseman Aderlin Rodriguez, infielder Garabez Rosa, shortstops Anderson Feliz and Rubén Tejada, and outfielder Ademar Rifaela.

Sardiñas, outfielder Anthony Santander and left-hander Luis Ysla will play in Venezuela.

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