The amount of trade and free agent activity is making heads spin. A dizzying pace that can be explained only by the upcoming deadline for a new collective bargaining agreement.
The current one expires on Wednesday, which also explains why the deadline for tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players has been moved up to Tuesday.
The Mets seem intent on conducting all of their offseason business by the end of the weekend. Except, of course, for the hiring of a manager.
No sense rushing into a new relationship.
Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha agreed to deals on Friday. Other teams removed players from the free agent market and consummated trades.
Meanwhile, the Orioles created a buzz simply by refusing to designate starter John Means and center fielder Cedric Mullins as untouchable. A routine act by a team in a rebuild with multiple needs and reasons to listen on any player.
A tweet from NESN’s account promoting a story on Mullins’ availability described the talks as “baffling.” What’s really baffling would be the existence of any front office executive who wouldn’t listen to another team’s trade pitch. Why screen that call or hang up as if told that your car’s warranty is about to expire?
Mike Elias absolutely has engaged in discussions regarding Means and Mullins. Teams want to know what it takes to get them. But this is just about the Orioles hearing which names are and aren’t in play. I keep checking around the industry and buckets of cold water are dumped on the rumors.
I haven’t encountered anyone who thinks the chances are good that Means or Mullins is moved, unless I’m just talking to the wrong people. That can get you in as much trouble as dangling.
Elias should be willing to strike while values are higher, and that’s most certainly the case with Mullins following the first 30/30 season in franchise history, an All-Star selection, a Silver Slugger Award and a ninth-place finish in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League.
Mullins is a guy who can be an important part of the rebuild and remains pre-arbitration eligible after making $577,000 this year. But if he can fetch multiple players who fill needs and increase the level of talent in the organization, you’ve got to listen.
The Orioles are deepest in outfielders, though the initial hit probably would sting. Kyle Stowers, for example, isn’t breaking camp with the team in 2022. But to me, at least, there’s a bigger void if Means is dealt unless there’s a starter in return who can be plugged into the top of the rotation. And would a team sacrifice that kind of pitching to acquire Means?
A couple of veterans are expected to be signed via free agency, but none of the three brought to camp last spring - Félix Hernández, Matt Harvey and Wade LeBlanc - were tabbed as No. 1 starters. Means already earned that honor, and the Orioles were rolling the dice on the trio while wagering low.
Anyway, back to my original point. Don’t mix up listening with actively shopping, whether in baseball or on Black Friday.
* The Orioles haven’t finished conducting their minor league business, but I’m piecing together some of the hires and departures.
Double-A Bowie manager Buck Britton moves up to Triple-A Norfolk, and Single-A Aberdeen’s Kyle Moore replaces Britton. Felipe Rojas Alou Jr., director of the Dominican Republic academy, is expected to manage Single-A Delmarva with Dave Anderson no longer in the organization.
The Orioles are likely to choose Moore’s replacement from outside the organization.
Jaylen Ferguson, a ninth-round pick in the 2015 draft, has been hired as a hitting coach in the Rookie-level Florida Complex League. Ferguson was released in June while playing for Bowie, where he batted .150/.235/.535 in 28 games.
Troy Marrow, a native of Lutherville, Md., who played at North Carolina Central University and worked in baseball operations with the Giants, will serve as a development coach in the FCL.
Marrow has been athletic director/coordinator of character and culture at the Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys since July.
Trey Wiedmann has been promoted from Norfolk’s strength and conditioning coach to the major league staff, with the other hire expected to come from outside the organization.
Nick White, hired in 2020 as minor league strength and conditioning coordinator after five years at Coastal Carolina University, will move into a larger role overseeing the entire organization’s program. His replacement also is expected to come from outside the organization.
Among the openings that don’t have a confirmed hire, unless I’ve lost track, are Norfolk pitching coach to replace Kennie Steenstra, Bowie hitting coach to replace Ryan Fuller, FCL manager to replace Alan Mills, Aberdeen hitting coach to replace Tom Eller and Delmarva hitting coach to replace Patrick Jones. Fuller also was the organization’s full-season hitting coordinator before his promotion to the Orioles as co-hitting coach with Matt Borgschulte.
Minor league medical coordinator Dave Walker retired after 28 years in the organization.