Last night’s trade of shortstop José Iglesias was the shocker among a series of moves made by the Orioles. The one transaction that dropped jaws after they picked up his $3.5 million option a month ago.
Hanser Alberto was a strong non-tender candidate and the Orioles sent him into the free agent market. They were more inclined to hold onto infielders Yolmer Sánchez and Pat Valaika and reliever Shawn Armstrong. They had no intention of non-tendering outfielders Trey Mancini and Anthony Santander.
Relinquishing Iglesias wasn’t anticipated, though it remained a possibility with other teams searching for shortstops and the Orioles always mining for young pitching talent.
Garrett Stallings, 23, was a former fifth-round draft pick of the Angels and the No. 21 prospect in their system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Jean Pinto, 19, also was in the deal, but Stallings was the prize.
“Tough call to part with a guy that was so impactful here in such a short time in Iggy,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, “but could not pass up two quality pitching prospects and particularly a guy in Garrett Stallings that I think fits in with our Top 20, Top 30 prospects and is a legitimate starting pitching prospect, which is hard to get your hands on.”
The Orioles could re-sign Alberto - Elias noted their interest - but they weren’t going to arbitration with him.
“There’s a lot that goes into that,” Elias said. “It’s built around player comps and there are pretty well-defined ranges that you are even permitted to engage in with a player when he’s in the arbitration track. Sometimes the market for certain positions or certain players evolves and the availability of those players, the types of profiles that they inhabit and the arbitration system is something that is much more difficult to change, along with any of those evolutions.
“I really think this is something that you’re seeing a lot of. There have been a large number of non-tenders, not just this year but the past couple of years, and in some ways it’s unfortunate, but on the other hand he and others will have their free agent rights now and there’s teams out there with a lot of jobs open and we’ll see what happens.”
* The Orioles’ 40-man roster contained three catchers prior to the non-tender deadline and retains three as we move deeper into December.
Pedro Severino reached agreement on a $1.825 million contract to avoid arbitration. He also avoided a non-tender, which appeared to be a legitimate possibility based on his projected raise.
Keeping Severino allows the Orioles to check his trade market over the summer rather than letting him walk now and getting nothing in return. And it provides the clearest signal that Adley Rutschman is beginning the 2021 season in the minors.
It should have been obvious, but there you go. Severino won’t be paid $1.825 million as a backup. He’s the starter.
Coming up next is the competition for the backup job, with Chance Sisco again emerging as the favorite. The Orioles will bring in another catcher and they still have Austin Wynns on the 40-man, where he’s been balancing on the bubble for a while.
The Orioles put Wynns on their taxi squad for road trips but didn’t recall him. They kept him in the organization for depth purposes and the position took multiple hits with Bryan Holaday and Martin Cervenka entering free agency.
Taylor Davis was re-signed to a minor league deal.
Wynns remains in a tough spot. He loves the organization but also loves to play, which didn’t happen in 2020.
Can he leapfrog Sisco in spring training?
Does he make it to spring training?
* In case you missed it, Padres bench coach Bobby Dickerson was chosen as Baseball America’s Major League Coach of the Year.
Dickerson worked his magic with the Padres’ infielders - similar to what he accomplished with Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and others in Baltimore.
San Diego’s infield posted a plus-11 Outs Above Average in 2020, the best in baseball, after finishing last at minus-26 prior to Dickerson’s arrival.
Shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. credited Dickerson for his improvement. It’s a growing chorus.
The Padres gave Dickerson a three-year contract to lure him away from the Phillies, where he spent one season as an infield coach. Teams would have to seek permission to speak with him about job openings.
Dickerson had replaced José Flores, who spent two seasons as Orioles third base coach and infield instructor.
The Orioles are in the process of finding a replacement for Flores to complete their 2021 coaching staff.
I was told over the summer that Dickerson suffered a “mild heart attack” while hitting ground balls at the ballpark during the shutdown - reminding me again that it’s only “mild” if it happens to someone else. Dickerson underwent surgery, made a full recovery and went back to work.
* Former Orioles assistant hitting coach Howie Clark has been promoted to the same role with the White Sox.
Clark was hired this year to serve as hitting coach at Triple-A Charlotte prior to the cancellation of the minor league season.
Nice to see someone move up professionally in a pandemic.
The same thing happened to Scott Coolbaugh, who was hired as Tigers hitting coach last month. He held an identical role with the Orioles under former manager Buck Showalter.
Coolbaugh worked as hitting coach for a Triple-A Oklahoma City in the Dodgers’ system before returning to the majors.
Update: Here are two salaries that weren’t reported yesterday. According to the Associated Press, Armstrong receives $825,000 and Valaika gets $875,000 if he’s in the majors and $300,000 if he’s in the minors.