Baltimore Orioles: What the non-tender moves mean

Jose Iglesias #11 of the Baltimore Orioles in action against Adam Ottavino #0 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 13, 2020 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 3-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jose Iglesias #11 of the Baltimore Orioles in action against Adam Ottavino #0 of the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on September 13, 2020 in New York City. The Yankees defeated the Orioles 3-1. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Orioles made a pair of decisions for the non-tender deadline earlier this month.

The Baltimore Orioles made two notable moves earlier this month for the non-tender deadline. First, they let go of second baseman Hanser Alberto, who was expected to earn a jump of $2-4 million in arbitration. Then they raised eyebrows around the league by trading shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Angels for pitching prospects Garrett Stallings and Jean Pinto.

Before getting into the implications, I’d like to thank the pair for their contributions to the major league team over the last couple of years. Just like Renato Nunez, who was released last week for similar reasons, they were some of the few bright spots on losing teams, and I hope each of them get to play for competitive teams next season.

Those of us who follow the Orioles closely are bummed out about these moves, but they do make some sense. After signing Gold Glover Yolmer Sanchez on the cheap, Alberto’s subpar defense became expendable. Plus, his slash line on offense fell across the board for an OPS+ of 91, down from 98 a year ago, meaning that he did provide as much as we would have liked.

Trading Iglesias is tougher to swallow since he was one of the team’s best players and clubhouse leaders this year. In the middle of a rebuild we know all good players could be traded, but after the progress of the 2020 season many fans thought we could make a run at a wild card birth in 2021. But GM Mike Elias is signaling that he won’t budge from his rebuilding path. Iglesias put up numbers way above his careers averages, so Elias is selling high while he has the chance.

We don’t have many numbers to go on for the prospects, but they do have potential.  Pinto is 19 and has only played in the Dominican Summer League, so he is a long term bet, like the return players in the Andrew Cashner trade.

Stallings was the Angels 21st-ranked prospect and ranks 26th in the Orioles system. He was drafted in the 5th round in 2019 and hasn’t pitched in the minors due to the pandemic and Angels policy, so all we know about him is from college at Tennessee. Stallings does not throw hard but he does throw strikes, which is the trait I personally value most in pitchers.  He could be a back-end starter on the strength of his control.

Without Alberto and Iglesias, the Orioles suddenly have spots to fill in the middle infield. With the 40-man roster sitting at 38, expect them to pick one or two guys in the Rule 5 draft coming up. While Richie Martin has promise and Pat Valaika showed some ability at the plate, neither of them are everyday starters, so the Orioles can look to free agency.

Most of the intriguing players added to the pool are outfielders, which the Orioles certainly don’t need. While Eddie Rosario and Adam Duvall would make the team better, they would just be stuck in the same position Nunez was.  There is no starting shortstop to be found, but Daniel Robertson could be a good bench option after improving down the stretch and Maikel Franco could split time at third base with Rio Ruiz.

Mike Elias said the team will look for some veteran starter pitchers, and the bullpen could use some help after deadline trades.  Thankfully, there is a lot within the Orioles’ budget. The Angels let five pitchers go, and Hansel Robles or Keynan Middleton could be a strong comeback candidate. Archie Bradley and Matt Wisler might cost a little more but both had low ERA’s and can pitch in high leverage situations.

There are plenty of other relievers that the Orioles pitching program can work with, but there are a couple starters worth taking a look at. Carlos Rodon floundered this year while missing time, but he will only be 28 in a few days.  The #3 pick in 2014 might still have something to offer.  On the other end, Tyler Anderson will be 31 this month and could be a stable fifth starter.  After a disastrous 2019 season, he bounced back with the Giants this year with a 4.37 ERA, the lowest since his rookie season.

The Orioles might not make any more headlines this offseason, but the bargain bin deals they make will still matter for next season and beyond.