Leftovers for breakfast

While the Orioles keeping waiting for Major League Baseball to establish its rules for 2021, especially roster sizes for spring training, they must prepare their case against outfielder Anthony Santander in next month’s arbitration hearing.

“Against” is a cringe-worthy word when considering his value to the club, his importance in the current state of the rebuild. But there’s no other way to phrase it when one side wants to pay $2.1 million and the other side wants to receive $2.475 million.

Here’s a word that doesn’t belong, though I naturally found it on my Twitter feed:


Santander’s 2020 salary was set at $572,500 before COVID-19 forced teams to play a 60-game season with prorated pay. He’s going to get a very healthy raise.

MLBTradeRumors.com projected a $1.7 million salary for Santander. The Orioles easily are going to exceed it, no matter how the panel rules if, in fact, the sides go to a hearing.

The midpoint is a common gathering spot in negotiations, but the Orioles are file-and-trial.

Setting salaries became much harder with the abbreviated season and its impact on counting stats. It feels like a win for the organization to have only one pending case, though the profile is much higher for the Most Valuable Oriole and Gold Glove finalist.

Do you think another September shutdown due to injury, the oblique limiting Santander to 37 games, is going to come up at the hearing?

I noted an important point on Friday - how Santander is under team control no matter what happens. And it’s made clear that this is just business and the player is valued and loved and there’s no need for animosity if the panel rules against him.

Some take it better than others. Outfielder Alejandro De Aza insisted that there were no hard feelings and he was just glad to be back in camp. Pitcher Rodrigo López appeared to be inconsolable.

My guess is the club has no worries about Santander’s response and whether it might impact his performance. The raise is going to be more than just a bump and others are on the horizon with a few more years of arbitration eligibility.

Give me $2.1 million and I’ll circle the room making airplane noises. Then again, I’d do the same for a handle of Tito’s and a bag of Utz chips.

Thumbnail image for Tom-Eshelman-Deals-vs-TB-White-Sidebar.jpg* The re-signing of pitcher Thomas Eshelman to a minor league contract flew under the radar.

I reported it Saturday morning, but I’m told that the deal was done at least a week ago.

Eshelman will be invited to camp and will try to make his way back onto the 40-man roster and the pitching staff. He’s always an option as an emergency starter after posting a 3.89 ERA and 1.240 WHIP last summer in 34 2/3 innings.

He doesn’t require much notice before taking the ball.

The Orioles outrighted Eshelman after he cleared waivers, and he declined the assignment on Dec. 3. Eshelman checked the free agent market and agreed to a new deal.

There’s more likely to be room for Eshelman in the bullpen if rosters are expanded again. The last spot in the rotation probably goes to a veteran free agent. There are plenty available on major league and minor league deals.

* The Orioles announced the signings of 17 international players on Friday, easily the most impressive haul in franchise history.

More are coming, but it isn’t about the amount. It’s the financial commitment that has the industry raving about the direction of the organization. Thirteen of the 17 received bonuses totaling $5,545,000.

“We had and have some catch-up to do, but this class was a gigantic step,” said executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.

“The excitement and strong showing of today’s signing news is a tribute to the hard work of our staff,” said senior director of international scouting Koby Perez. “Being in year two of retooling our international presence and having to deal with a pandemic is not an easy process, and I couldn’t be prouder of what we have been able to accomplish. We know Orioles fans are excited for what we are building, and today is a momentous step forward in making the Orioles a household name in the international market.”

The headliners were Venezuelan shortstop Maikol Hernández ($1.2 million) and Dominican catcher Samuel Basallo ($1.3 million.) MLBPipeline.com ranked Hernandez, 17, as the No. 30 international prospect.

Wait, the Orioles also signed a catcher? Does this mean Adley Rutschman is changing positions?

I kid, I kid.

* Wedged in the transactions list on Friday was this little nugget: Third baseman Rio Ruiz changed his uniform number from 14 to 2.

As I always advise, please continue to breathe normally.

Now I’m really hoping for media access in spring training so I can ask Ruiz about the switch.

Dilson Herrera was assigned No. 2 last year and appeared in three games in September before the Orioles designated him for assignment. Jonathan Villar wore it in 2018-19.

The Orioles have expressed interest in bringing back Villar. Would he try reclaim his old number? Should we read anything into the Orioles giving it to Ruiz? I’ll go with ... no.

The seven years that J.J. Hardy spent in the organization as No. 2 will be remembered more fondly. But I’m old enough to recall Rich Coggins in the early ’70s,

Outfielder Joe Frazier wore it in 1956 in his final year in the majors and he was a knockout.

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