Orioles sign Sánchez

The Orioles whittled their list of unsigned arbitration-eligible players to five this morning by reaching agreement with infielder Yolmer Sánchez on a 2021 contract, according to an industry source.

Sánchez is signed for $1 million and waiting to learn whether he’s a candidate to start at second or third base. He could land in the utility mix, with his arrival perhaps having a domino effect on the roster.

Hanser Alberto could be impacted. Pat Valaika could be impacted. They’re also eligible for arbitration and labeled as non-tender possibilities.

Sanchez-Throws-White-Sox-Sidebar.jpgSánchez was claimed off waivers from the White Sox on Oct. 30. He accepted a minor league deal from the Giants after the White Sox non-tendered him to avoid a projected salary of $6.2 million in arbitration.

The Orioles sought a defensive upgrade and Sánchez provided it as a former Gold Glove winner at second base. The question became, at what cost?

Both sides found a suitable one.

Alberto slashed .283/.306/.393 with 15 doubles and three home runs in 54 games. He struggled over the final month, batting .215/.241/.291 in 83 plate appearances.

Value comes in Alberto’s ability to hit left-handers. He owns a career .350/.367/.464 slash line in 350 plate appearances.

A projected raise from $1.65 million to$2.3 million has left Alberto vulnerable to a non-tender. He was the primary second baseman again, appearing in 51 games, but the Orioles have other options at the position, including Sánchez.

Alberto could slide over to third base in one of the possible scenarios.

The Orioles selected Alberto off waivers twice in 2019 and he became a regular presence in their lineup. He also emerged as one of their most popular players and was the team’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, recognizing his humanitarian efforts.

Valaika did a solid job in a utility role after the Orioles selected him off waivers for a second time on Jan. 30. He batted .277/.315/.475 with four doubles and eight home runs in 52 games and played all four infield positions, left field and right field.

A projected raise from $573,500 to $1.1 million threatened Valaika’s spot on the 40-man roster with the Orioles possessing other utility candidates in the organization.

We’re also waiting to find out about reliever Shawn Armstrong, who was limited to 14 games due to a back injury, but posted a 1.80 ERA and a 0.800 WHIP in 15 innings and surrendered only one home run. The Orioles selected him off waivers from the Mariners in April 2019 and his salary was set at $573,500 this season. MLBTradeRumors.com projected a raise to $800,000.

The easy calls involve outfielders Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander.

Mancini didn’t play in 2020 after undergoing surgery for Stage 3 colon cancer and chemotherapy treatments that ended on Sept. 21. He working out in Nashville, Tenn., and expects to be ready for spring training.

Mancini’s salary had been set at $4.75 million after he was named Most Valuable Oriole.

Santander’s salary was projected to increase from $572,500 to $1.7 million after he was named MVO this summer and chosen as a Gold Glove finalist in right field. The former Rule 5 pick batted .261/.315/.575 with 13 doubles, a triple, 11 home runs and 32 RBIs 37 games prior to sustaining an oblique injury.

The Orioles reached their first agreement yesterday by retaining catcher Pedro Severino for $1.825 million. He was set to make $576,000 in 2020 prior to the shutdown.

Severino is back as the starter and the placeholder for top prospect Adley Rutschman.

MLB.com first reported Sánchez’s agreement.

This story will be updated throughout the day.

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