One of the big marks of Buck Showalter when he came to Baltimore was that he holds guys accountable for their play. Over time, we saw quite a few players on that Norfolk shuttle when they needed tweaks to their games here and there. Ironically, that’s one thing that’s been all but absent for the Baltimore Orioles this year. And now many fans are asking why that is.
Showalter still believes in holding guys accountable. There can be no doubt about that. However each year is different. The
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O’s now find themselves in a situation where quite a few of their players (both in the field and in the bullpen) don’t have minor league options left. A player in his rookie contract has five options available (one for each year in theory). Once those five options are up or the five-year mark is reached on that player’s career, things get hairier.
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The short of it is that a player then has to be “Designated for Assignment,” which is what we saw with Alejandro De Aza last week. The team then has ten days to trade the player, or he can be claimed on waivers by another team. (In De Aza’s case he was traded to Boston yesterday within that ten days.) If the ten days elapses, the player can either accept a minor league assignment and be outrighted or he can opt to become a free agent. Either way, the organization is still paying him.
And that’s the crux of the issue right there; you never want to have to pay someone who’s not on your team. If the player opts to become a free agent, he’s even then still being paid by the first team, although at a pro-rated rate. The team who signs him can pay him the league minimum, and the original team pays the rest of his contract minus the league minimum.
The O’s have already DFA’d De Aza, so it’s been done. However the likes of Travis Snider, Everth Cabrera, David Lough, and many of the Oriole relievers can’t be sent down without going through this process. Many fans of late have pointed to the likes of Nolan Reimold, who’s tearing it up down at triple-A. Why can’t the O’s bring him up to the big leagues so as to generate some offense?
First off, Reimold’s in that exact same boat. If they bring him up, they couldn’t send him back down without the risk of losing him. And the fact is that the likes of Snider, Lough, or Delmon Young might be candidates to go down – but the Orioles would risk losing them. Now there are plenty of fans out there who would say it’s not that big a deal to lose someone who’s not producing. However is it really smart business to end up paying someone when he’s playing for someone else – potentially against you?
With the flurry of roster moves the Orioles made in past seasons (even prior to Showalter being here), at some point something like this was going to happen. The other option the Orioles have is obviously working out a trade involving someone that would open up a roster spot. But due to a process that brought so much success over the past few seasons, the O’s now find themselves in a situation where they literally can’t do anything with certain players. Unless they want to leave money on the table, that is.