More free agent talk and some props for Hays

Even if the Orioles or any other team gets one of the big three remaining free agent pitchers, can any of them even be ready for opening day at this point? We are talking about Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn and the answer is that they probably can’t be ready by March 29.

Teams play nearly five weeks worth of spring training games and starting pitchers need that entire time to ramp up their innings and get their arms ready. Even at that point, some are only prepared to throw 90-100 pitches once the regular season begins. Five weeks from today takes us into mid-April.

At this point, any pitcher signing for this year may have to miss his first three or four starts of the 2018 season unless he is rushed into action. Does that mean those players would have to take a 10 percent reduction on 2018 salaries?

You also have to wonder if some of these players would now consider signing a one-year deal for 2018 only and then re-enter the market next year. Maybe then the market will play out as it normally does and we won’t see what we’ve seen this winter. Also, any player who turned down a qualifying offer this time cannot be offered the QO next winter or anytime in the future. A player can get just one qualifying offer. So he won’t have compensation attached to his signing next winter. Plus, if a player now settles for a one-year deal, that could bring more teams into the bidding for the player. Maybe many more.

Players that turned down a qualifying offer in November that can’t get one past this free agent class include Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Mike Moustakas.

Moustakas re-signed with the Kansas City Royals this week and got a one-year guarantee of just $6.5 million for 2018. At the beginning of free agency, MLBTradeRumors.com projected he would get a five-year deal worth $85 million. Wow, what a difference. Moustakas would have gotten $17.4 million for this year if he had accepted the qualifying offer. But he didn’t, and no one then could have predicted how the next few months would play out for free agents.

By the way, the last three years Moustakas has a respectable slash line of .275/.329/.496 for an OPS of .824. That is not far behind the Orioles’ Manny Machado. His three-year line since 2015 is .280/.338/.502 for an OPS of .840.

Austin Hays swinging gray sidebar.jpgHays is number six: It is pretty clear that Baseball America is bullish on young Orioles outfielder Austin Hays. He was one of the publication’s five finalists for its 2017 minor league Player of the Year, and he was ranked No. 21 in its latest top 100 prospects list. That is Hays’ highest prospect ranking. His next best was a No. 23 from MLBPipeline.com.

In this article, Hays draws more praise. Baseball America ranks him sixth on its list of the top 20 rookies and how they will impact the majors this year. Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is No. 1 followed by the Braves’ Ronald Acuna, the Yankees’ Gleyber Torres, the Marlins’ Lewis Brinson and J.P. Crawford from the Phillies.

In projecting Hays outlook for this season, BA writes: “The departure of Seth Smith creates an opening for Hays in right field. His 4.4 percent walk rate is concerning, but his big power and ability to get to it should get him plenty of at-bats.”

No doubt Hays will spend some time on the big league roster this season. How much is what we don’t yet know. Anthony Santander seems to have an opening day spot close to sewed up and if the O’s carry two outfielders to platoon in right and Hays is not one of them, he could begin the new season on the farm. But he’d then only be a phone call away from a chance to make Baseball America’s prediction a good one.

Miley is pitching well: I don’t point this out to troll Orioles fans, but so far in spring training, former O’s lefty Wade Miley has an ERA of 0.00 in three games for Milwaukee. Over eight innings he has allowed six hits and three runs (none earned) with one walk and 11 strikeouts. He has a batting average against of .194 and WHIP of 0.88. Last spring for Baltimore he had an ERA of 5.54, an average against of .389 and a 1.85 WHIP. Then he went 8-15 with a 5.61 ERA in 32 regular-season starts last summer.

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