Reunions can be nice. In sports we see them often. Would the Orioles be interested in one with a player that once made the All-Star team and finished 12th in the American League MVP voting?
The player is second baseman Jonathan Schoop, originally signed by the team out of Curacao in August 2008. He played in 635 games over six seasons as an Oriole and played in the postseason with the Birds in both 2014 and 2016.
In 2017, Schoop had a breakout year and at the end of it was voted the Most Valuable Oriole. He hit .293/.338/.503 with 35 doubles, 32 homers, 105 RBIs, 92 runs and with an OPS of .841. He ranked sixth in the AL in RBIs, 12th in extra-base hits, 15th in batting average and 18th in home runs. He was indeed 12th in the AL vote for MVP and made his first - and only - All-Star game.
On July 31, 2018, he was traded to the Orioles by Milwaukee in the deal that made Jonathan Villar an Oriole. In 2019, Schoop signed a one-year deal with Minnesota for $7.5 million. He hit .256/.304/.473. But he didn’t start any of Minnesota’s three games in the AL Division Series against New York, as the Twins went with Luis Arraez at second. Schoop batted just twice in that series.
Since his big 2017 season with the Orioles, Schoop has fallen pretty far. Putting together his 2018 and 2019 seasons, he’s hit a combined .244/.284/.444 with a .728 OPS. According to Baseball-Reference.com he produced a 0.7 defensive WAR in 2017 and that number was 0.4 last season with the Twins.
Schoop is a free agent, but a reunion in Baltimore seems unlikely. The Orioles have Villar, Richie Martin and Hanser Alberto between second base and shortstop. But potentially opening a door for Schoop is Villar’s status. Does he get traded or non-tendered? Does the club want Martin to spend some time next year at Triple-A?
The Orioles are not overflowing with middle infield prospects in their higher minors. Rylan Bannon hit .266/.345/.421 at two levels, including a .317 average at Norfolk, but that was in just 20 games. Mason McCoy hit .379 at Single-A Frederick and .266 for Double-A Bowie, but struggled a bit on offense late in the year. Some middle infield prospects may be heard from in the future but not next year. This list includes Adam Hall, Cadyn Grenier, Gunnar Henderson and Joey Ortiz to name a few.
Will Schoop be limited to a one-year deal? That seems likely to me and it seems likely it will be less than he got in 2019, maybe much less. Would the Orioles be at least intrigued?
As an Oriole in 2017, he already had a low walk rate of 5.2 and he struck out 21 percent of the time. This past year, his walk rate was worse at 4.3 and he struck out 25 percent of the time.
Have major league pitchers figured him out? I though the guy I called Johnny Baseball was ready for big things after his 2017 season. It hasn’t happened.
The Orioles may be in the market this year for middle infield depth or maybe more than that, but a reunion with the kid (granted, now 28) with the great smile may not be in the cards.
Game 7 is tonight: Tonight we get a Game 7 in the World Series. Houston hosts the Washington Nationals to break the 3-3 series tie. The Nats won 7-2 last night to force the final game. Each game of this series has been won by the road team. This is the first time the road team has won six in the World Series. Visitors are 23-20 in World Series Game 7s.
Right-hander Stephen Strasburg was great again for the Nats, allowing two runs over 8 1/3 innings. He is 5-0 this postseason and the Nationals are 4-0 in elimination games this postseason.
The Orioles have played in two World Series seventh games. But most O’s fans can tell you it’s too soon to discuss what happened!
Which team wins this Game 7?