Now that the Orioles have officially non-tendered Tim Beckham, they need to find a shortstop to replace him. Internal options are scarce, so we’re looking at the free agent market to find a fit
Over the past month, we’ve written quite a bit about Tim Beckham and the shortstop situation in Baltimore. I previously made my opinion clear, stating Beckham was affordable enough to warrant the Orioles bringing him back. But on Friday, the O’s officially non-tendered him, opening up the conversation about who’ll eventually replace him at short.
The Orioles could still theoretically negotiate a deal with Beckham for less than the projected $4.3 million he was due next year, but it feels unlikely at this point. If they didn’t want him at $4 million, they likely don’t want him for any price.
There are two potential routes the Orioles can take to fill the void at short next year.
The first of which is to move Jonathan Villar back to shortstop and utilize a combination of internal options, including Steve Wilkerson, Breyvic Valera and Corban Joseph, to eat the missing innings at second base.
There’s limited upside here, though it would be very cheap and it’d give the Orioles the opportunity to see if Wilkerson and Valera can be useful as full-time major leaguers.
However, this strategy doesn’t necessarily make the Orioles defense any better than it was last year, which seemed to be a primary reason that Elias wanted to move on from Beckham.
Enter Jose Iglesias.
The 29-year-old Iglesias is one of the better defensive shortstops in all of baseball, posting the fourth-highest UZR and the fourth-highest Defensive WAR in the majors last year. Since 2015, only three shortstops have a higher total UZR than Iglesias.
Iglesias won’t turn heads with the bat, however he has posted a respectable enough .269/.312/.366 line over the past four years with 17 homers and 40 steals.
If the Orioles are trying to prioritize infield defense, they could do worse than Iglesias.
The downside here is that Iglesias made $6.275 million last year, and Spotrac has him valued in the $8 million per year range. I’m not sure how much he’ll get, but I’m certain he’ll be looking for a multi-year deal.
If the Orioles can get him in the 2/$15 range with a player option on the end, that could work to the O’s benefit. It’s not completely out of their price range; the Orioles payroll sits at just over $51 million before arbitration raises next year.
Adding on $5-$10 million wouldn’t push the Orioles over the edge, and adding Iglesias would provide a much needed improvement to the O’s infield defense.
Ultimately, I’m not sure that the Orioles will be looking to add much in payroll next year, despite Elias mentioning that the club will be more active the further we get into the offseason.
The two most likely areas the Orioles will be looking to add to or upgrade are at short and in the bullpen. Targeting Iglesias isn’t the cheapest option for the O’s but having him and Villar up the middle would drastically improve the infield defense in Baltimore.