Baltimore Orioles Rumors: How arbitration raises will affect the 2019 roster

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Caleb Joseph #36 of the Baltimore Orioles walks back to the dugout after grounding out against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 30: Caleb Joseph #36 of the Baltimore Orioles walks back to the dugout after grounding out against the Houston Astros at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 30, 2018 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Orioles have only a handful of players eligible for arbitration raises in 2019. MLB Trade Rumors annual projected arbitration piece allows us a glimpse of where the Orioles could be heading into next season

The Baltimore Orioles have just over $51 million dollars committed to player salaries in 2019, good for 7th least in MLB. The majority of the roster will return under team control next year, allowing for major roster flexibility and a very low payroll total.

Just four players return on veteran contracts: Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner. Chris Davis won’t be moved due to his contract, but all four of them should be on the trading block this off-season.

There are six players eligible for arbitration raises in 2019: Jonathan Villar, Tim Beckham, Dylan Bundy, Mychal Givens, Caleb Joseph and Jace Peterson. None of them will command a significant salary, but the Orioles will need to consider whether these guys return in 2019 or become roster casualties.

Let’s break this situation down to see whether these players are deserving of a return to Baltimore. Link to the MLB TR piece here.

Keep in mind these figures from MLB Trade Rumors are projections, not actual figures 

Jonathan Villar – $4.4 million

Villar could potentially be the best baseball player on the 2019 Baltimore Orioles. That’s not necessarily a compliment to Villar; it more so speaks to the talent at the major league level in Baltimore.

However, Villar has earned his money thus far in his career, especially since coming to Baltimore at the trade deadline this year.

He posted a .729 OPS and 21 steals in just 54 games for the Orioles in 2019, and he should be a spark plug for the offense next year.

This is an easy yes for the Orioles, probably up to almost $6 million. The O’s can afford to pay one of their best hitters, especially at what could be his peak.

Tim Beckham – $4.3 million

The former 1st overall pick in 2008 had a very down year in 2018, hitting .230/.287/.374 with just 29 extra-base hits in 96 games. For the third time in four seasons, he’s struggled with injuries and failed to play a full season.

If the Orioles were closer to the competitive balance cap, this might be a tougher decision.

But since the money needs to be spent somewhere, and there isn’t an excess of talent up the middle in the farm system, this should be another yes for the Orioles.

Unlike with Villar, the Orioles should try to stay under $4.5 million with Beckham; he just hasn’t earned the money. But if he’s healthy, you could do worse than the Villar/Beckham combo at 2B/SS.

Dylan Bundy – $3.0 million

Bundy has struggled to find a rhythm in his 3 seasons in Baltimore. He has a 5.17 FIP and led the league with 41 homers allowed in 2018. When his fastball velo is up near 95 mph, Bundy can be effective. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case, and he’s been closer to 91.

There’s no scenario where the Orioles don’t bring back Bundy in 2019, but it’s probably time to start looking at the bigger picture. The real problem is that the Orioles just can’t develop pitchers. We’ve seen Bundy at his worst. Hopefully we haven’t seen him at his best.

The $3 million is fine for Bundy but if he can’t get it going early on in 2019, the Orioles need to seriously consider trading him.

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Mychal Givens – $2.0 million

The arbitration system rewards traditional stats, like RBI and saves. One one hand, I’m always going to support the labor side over the ownership side. On the other, the Orioles can be thankful that Givens only got 9 saves in 2019.

Givens was good, not great in 2018 but he’s been getting progressively less effective over the past three years. His K/9 rate has gone from 11.6 in 2016, to 10.1 last year, to 9.3 in 2018.

The lack of experience in the bullpen, coupled with the fact they aren’t getting a solid bullpen piece cheaper than this on the free agent market make this a yes for Givens. He won’t be the best Orioles reliever in 2019, but he’s effective enough to be worth the $2 million.

Caleb Joseph – $1.7 million

Similar to the entire roster in 2018, Joseph struggled all year and never got into a groove at the plate. But the really bad part is that his .575 OPS wasn’t even his career worst; he actually posted a .413 OPS in 2016 in 49 games.

Many players throughout the Orioles organization have praised Joseph’s leadership in the clubhouse, but we can’t help but feel that under partly-his leadership in 2018, the Orioles lost a franchise-record number of games, and the clubhouse seemed broken after the trade deadline.

Nothing against Joseph as a person, but his time in Baltimore is up. The Orioles should look fondly upon the 2016 playoff run, non-tender his contract and move on from Joseph.

Jace Peterson – $1.3 million

Peterson performed dismally after coming to Baltimore from the Yankees this season. He has a career .648 OPS; there’s a bit of speed but absolutely no power.

Obviously the Orioles front office liked Peterson enough to trade for him this year. Maybe it’s his versatility, as Peterson can play just about anywhere on the diamond. He does provide adequate defense but the bat is just awful.

Peterson would be a no for me, but considering that the Orioles just traded for him a couple months ago and that he’s going to be very cheap, I’d assume that Peterson comes back in 2019; I just don’t think that it’s a great idea.

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The wildcard here is Beckham. There’s a chance the Orioles move on from him to avoid paying the $4-plus million dollars to him next year. But this should be a pretty straight-forward arbitration season for the Orioles new front office.

There isn’t a lot of guaranteed money in 2019, and there will only be between $16-$18 million tacked on after arbitration figures go final.

There will be plenty of payroll flexibility for the 2019 Baltimore Orioles. Let’s just hope they use it wisely.