The Baltimore Orioles released their 30-man Opening Day roster on Thursday and it had a major omission.
Ryan Mountcastle, the Baltimore Orioles’ No. 4 prospect and No. 94 prospect in all of baseball according to MLB.com, was left off the opening day roster. It is a terrible decision by the organization and shows this team as one more concerned with saving money than putting together a winning ball club.
Mountcastle, 23, was an absolute stud last season in 127 games for Triple-A Norfolk. He hit .312 with 25 home runs, 83 RBIs, 35 doubles and a .527 slugging percentage.
For any smart team, those numbers in Triple-A from a top-100 prospect would mean a call to the show. However, the Orioles seem to want to lose so badly they will let one of their best prospects sit out a season and not get reps against Major League pitching, especially since he proved he can handle it.
Look, I get it. The Orioles do not want to burn up a potential star’s service time in a 60-game season where there are low expectations. However, with MLB and the MLB Players Association agreeing to a 16-team playoff for 2020, it is much more feasible for the Birds to make the playoffs than with a 10-team playoff.
This is why it is ridiculous to keep Mountcastle off the 30-man roster. He could potentially be the best hitter in the lineup for a team with at least a decent shot of making the postseason and giving the city of Baltimore something to root for during a global pandemic. He is ready, as he showed with his home run in Sunday’s exhibition in Philadelphia, for the Big Leagues and it would be valuable for him to face MLB pitchers for 60 games.
Instead, Orioles’ general manager Mike Elias is lying to O’s fans. In his interview on the MASN broadcast during Monday’s exhibition with the Nationals, he said he is committed to winning this season.
“We’re heading towards a possible postseason berth,” Elias said.
I believe this is a flat out lie.
The organization does not want to win now. The organization wants to tank this season in hopes to get a high draft pick. I do believe the team wants to win down the road but only if conserving money. Leaving Mountcastle off the roster will make him eligible for salary arbitration and free agency later than if he were on the 30-man roster, thus saving the Orioles money.
Instead of doing the smart thing of putting Mountcastle on the roster now so he can gain the extra experience and start producing for the big club, the Orioles are being selfish with their money.
If Mountcastle pans out, the Birds can actually spend money on him and sign him to a long-term deal before he is eligible for free agency and arbitration.
This whole service-time malarkey – in my opinion – is so Baltimore can get the most out of him while he is an Oriole before low-balling him with an offer and allowing him to leave for a bigger market team.
The Orioles are allowing a future star to rot playing intersquad games against fellow minor leaguers all summer.
Instead of Mountcastle, Orioles fans get to “enjoy” a summer of 27-year-old Pat Valaika (-1.4 career WAR according to baseball reference) and Andrew Velazquez (.152 career average). Mountcastle will have to wait until his age-24 season to debut for the big club.
I don’t think it is productive to complain about Orioles baseball in 2020 because it is a miracle they are even playing at all, but this news irked me. I’m sure a number of O’s fans feel the same way.