Baltimore Orioles: A Tough Day For Former Orioles

CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 07: Kevin Gausman #46 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park on September 07, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 07: Kevin Gausman #46 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches to the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning at Great American Ball Park on September 07, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Silas Walker/Getty Images) /

A group of former Baltimore Orioles found themselves joining the free agent market on Monday.

For more than 50 major league ballplayers, Monday was a tough first day back after the holiday weekend as teams tendered contracts to arbitration-eligible players, while leaving a handful of experienced veterans non-tendered and looking for a new job via free agency. It was an especially tough day for former Baltimore Orioles players.

Four former Orioles have now joined the free agent pool, with at least one being connected back to the Orioles as a possible pickup this winter. Here’s the complete list along with a look back at how they performed in 2019.

RHP Kevin Gausman– Cincinnati Reds

The former first-round pick of the Orioles has yet to find stability in the major leagues and could end up beginning 2020 with his fourth different franchise since the start of 2018. He sits atop the Orioles WAR leaderboard for pitchers over the last decade, peaking at 3.1 fWAR back in 2016. It’s been a steady drop ever since.

After going 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.52 HR/9IP rate in 21 starts for Baltimore to start 2018, he was traded at the deadline to the Atlanta Braves, who seemed to have unlocked something in Gausman. Over his final 10 starts, the former LSU Tiger went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA and 0.75 HR/9 IP rate. Unfortunately, it all fell apart in 2019.

Gausman saw his strikeout rate take a significant jump, but so did his walk rate, home run rate, and ERA (6.19). He found himself on waivers and off to Cincinnati to close out the year, going 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA out of the bullpen. He struck out a career-high 32% of hitters and despite a 4.03 ERA, posted a 3.17 FIP and 2.49 xFIP.

He turns 29 next month and will surely find a job in the majors this winter. Getting one more shot at a backend rotation spot also seems likely.

Catcher Caleb Joseph– Arizona Diamondbacks

A fan favorite in Baltimore for many seasons, the Arizona Diamondbacks elected to move on from the 33-year-old catcher who is now a free agent. MASN’s Roch Kubatko has thrown out Joseph’s name multiple times over the last few weeks as the possible fourth catching option Mike Elias wants to add to the organization.

He still has an option remaining and will probably end up signing for a minor league deal, meaning the Orioles can stash him in Norfolk and call him up as necessary. For a one year option while we continue to wait for Adley Rutschman, I’d be fine with bringing back Joseph. Why not?

Joseph spent most of his 2019 season in Triple-A, hitting .265 with a .324 OBP, seven home runs, and a wRC+ of 90. In 20 games at the major league level, Joseph hit .211 with a .250 OBP, and a wRC+ of 34.

IF Tim Beckham– Seattle Mariners

Non-tendering Beckham was an easy decision for numerous reasons. There’s the fact that he was set to earn $3 million next season which is a large amount for one of the worst defenders you will see and a below league-average hitter and the fact that he’s currently serving an 80-game suspension for PED use.

Before his suspension, Beckham played in 88 games, slashing .237/.293/.461 with 15 home runs, 47 RBI, a 31% strikeout rate, and a wRC+ of 99. Best of luck to him in his new adventures.

OF Joey Rickard– San Francisco Giants

Oh, Joey Rickard. After what seemed like a decade of watching him bounce between Camden Yards and Harbor Park, the Orioles finally designated Rickard for assignment over the summer, who was claimed by San Francisco and spent the rest of the year doing what he always did as an Oriole.

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In 46 Triple-A games, Rickard hit .372 with a .431 OBP and a wRC+ of 148. He saw 26 games at the major league level, hitting .280 with a .333 OBP and a wRC+ of 93. Rickard wasn’t the only outfield casualty in San Francisco as Kevin Pillar was also non-tendered. Let’s hope he doesn’t come back to the AL East.

For Rickard, I’m sure he will catch on somewhere and continue to bounce between Triple-A and the big leagues, showing off a big bat in the minors but not much in the majors. His speed and defense will continue to make him attractive to someone.

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