Trying to come up with a few answers to Orioles questions

My mailbag hasn’t reached a level that tempts me to empty it, your questions scattered all over the floor, but I don’t mind a light sifting this morning.

Extremely light. Like, Engelb Vielma light.

Here are four questions that I’m tackling, being careful to not lead with my helmet:

Julio Iglesias is a free agent after winding up with the Red Sox after the Orioles traded him to the Angels. Does Mike Elias bring him back?
You meant José and won’t lose points or my respect. The Orioles need a placeholder again at shortstop until Jordan Westburg or Gunnar Henderson is ready. Or one of the other dozen shortstop prospects in the system - only a mild exaggeration. Iglesias checks off the boxes, including a steady and at times spectacular hand at shortstop despite his minus-dWAR over the past two seasons. (I take defensive metrics with a grain of salt and my coffee with a light dusting of sweetener).

His veteran leadership was valued in 2020, especially with Trey Mancini away from the team, and his offense in the second and third slots in the order was quite the bonus. He slashed .373/.400/.556, but in only 39 of 60 games in the truncated season due to wrist and quadriceps injuries. He led the club in average, doubles (17), on-base percentage and OPS. Only five major leaguers with as many plate appearances as Iglesias’ 150 struck out less often than he did with 17.

Thumbnail image for Iglesias-Throws-Black-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles signed him to a $2.5 million contract and picked up the $3.5 million option for 2021 rather than exercising his $500,000 buyout. A month later, on the same day that they were offering or declining contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, they traded him to the Angels for right-handers Garrett Stallings and Jean Pinto.

“I was very comfortable, I loved the group and I was hoping to stay because I really, really, really get along and feel very comfortable,” Iglesias told MASNsports.com on Dec. 8. “But at the same time, Mike (Elias) explained it is a business. There are business decisions behind every decision in the game today, and I totally understand that and respect it.

“I was sad. I had a great time in Cincinnati. I got an opportunity to play with great human beings and outstanding players and a good staff. But Baltimore was special for me. My chemistry and my communication with those young players was unique and I used that on the field daily, even to play through injuries, just because of the love and the respect that I have for all those guys and the whole staff and the organization. So it was painful for me to hear that I got traded.”

Iglesias batted .356/.406/.508 in 23 games with the Red Sox after the Angels released him in September. If the Orioles were willing to give him $2.5 million with an option before the 2020 season, I don’t see any reason why they’d find it unappetizing before 2022. And that price could come down. So in a long-winded answer, yes, he’s a viable candidate unless the team has any concerns about durability. And he could become a trade chip. He’s certainly a more realistic target than Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Marcus Semien or Javier Báez. But so is Freddy Galvis, who signed a $1.5 million contract with the Orioles last winter before they traded him to the Phillies, which netted him another $250,000.

Are you hearing anything else about the CBA negotiations leading to the deadline?
The Continental Basketball Association remains defunct since 2009. The collective bargaining agreement expires on Dec. 1, as you seem to be alluding to, and I haven’t heard much to suggest that the sides will hammer out a new one by the start of next month.

Keep in mind, however, that I’m not working the phones 24/7 to dig up negotiating news. It’s more what I’d consider collecting updates and checking with a handful of industry and media people who keep their ear closer to the ground. I’m leery of insects and messing up my hair.

For every optimistic tone struck, and I’ve counted maybe one, there are more people who anticipate the cancellation of the Winter Meetings that are scheduled to begin Dec. 6, unless you include the travel day that precedes it. Many say a more realistic target, and more important in the big picture, is a week or two prior to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training. A chance to avoid delaying camp arrivals and pushing back the start of the regular season. In the meantime, we’ll be stuck with the ugly “lockout” word. And what about shutting down the usual offseason business? How would executives recover from that?

My guess is as quickly as possible. As if there’s any other choice. Free agents flying off the board as if having wings. Air traffic control will need to get involved.

But fans will be more forgiving if opening day isn’t impacted and the 2022 schedule consists of a full 162 games. If they can get back to some semblance of normalcy. No truncated season, no limits on crowd sizes.

Would the Orioles really consider a catcher with the first pick in the draft?
A draft question in November. What took so long? When you consider the desire to take the best player on the board, the underslot philosophy and how there isn’t a consensus No. 1 at this extremely early stage, it’s impossible to know what the Orioles are going to do. They don’t know. Why should we?

Everyone knows that Adley Rutschman is going to debut in 2022 and is an elite talent, and teams don’t use a one/one on a future backup or for depth purposes. And unlike the many shortstops drafted, catchers don’t usually possess the athleticism to simply move to other positions. Of course, there’s always first base, where the Orioles already seem to be in fine hands.

The University of Arizona’s Daniel Susac is a switch-hitting catcher with a plus arm and plus power who projects as a middle-of-the-order bat. Sound familiar? His batted-ball data reportedly surpasses catcher Henry Davis, chosen No. 1 overall by the Pirates this year.

Susac, the younger brother of former Orioles catcher Andrew Susac, slashed .335/.392/.591 with 24 doubles, 12 home runs and 65 RBIs as a true freshman in 2021. He was a semifinalist for the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of The Year award.
He’s a top-10 pick unless something unforeseen happens to him.

The same is being said about Georgia Tech catcher Kevin Parada, with his plus bat and advanced skill set behind the plate that’s drawing obvious comparisons to Matt Wieters - former Yellow Jacket, former Oriole. The University of Mississippi’s Hayden Dunhurst could join them. But No. 1 to the Orioles?

Never say never, and they really liked Davis, who was their choice in at least one mock draft. But it seems like one/one could be put to better use for this club.

Just my opinion. And it’s only November.

Would the Orioles consider trading Cedric Mullins while his value is at its highest?
Yes.

Will they? Man, it would take one heck of an offer. So sweet that it causes cavities. But yes.

No one is untouchable if the right proposal comes along, and you’re right about Mullins’ value after his 30/30 season. The Orioles will listen on anyone, and teams must be checking on his availability.

Mullins looks like an obvious piece of the rebuild - drafted and developed, established now as the leadoff hitter and center fielder, under team control until free agency arrives in 2026. Capable of influencing outcomes with his bat, feet and glove.

It makes sense to hold onto him. It makes sense to consider any package that can upgrade the talent level on this club, with Austin Hays able to move back to center and with the Orioles taking outfielders with their first picks in the past two drafts.

Players due raises in arbitration and much closer than Mullins to touching free agency are the more obvious trade chips on a rebuilding club. There’s a greater motivation to move them. But Mullins seems to have gone from demoted to a guy in demand within two years.

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