Making a Case for Extending John Means Soon

BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 09: John Means #47 of the Baltimore Orioles walks to the dugout during an intrasquad game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 9, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 09: John Means #47 of the Baltimore Orioles walks to the dugout during an intrasquad game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 9, 2020 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) /
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Although it may be too soon to tell, the Orioles may have a top starter in 27-year-old John Means.

Means was drafted in the 46th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Atlanta Braves, but was recommended to attend college. The former West Virginia Mountaineer was drafted by the Orioles in the 11th round of the 2014 MLB draft, making his big-league debut in September 2018.

Means had an excellent rookie season for the Orioles in 2019, going 12-11 with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts and being named to the first All-Star Game of his career. He was the only Oriole pitcher to have double-digit wins and accounted for nearly one-quarter of the entire team’s wins (54).

The 2020 season was a downfall of a season for Means, holding a 2-4 record with a 4.53 ERA in 10 starts. He only pitched 43.2 innings and allowed 22 runs during that span. This season can almost be forgiven because of the unexpected effects from COVID-19, which involved a shortened season and a season opener in July.

It is only three starts into the season but Means seems to have found his edge again. In 16.2 innings, he has only allowed 13 hits, four runs and four walks. This is the start he was looking for to boost his confidence for a long season.

Means’ three years of arbitration are set to begin following the 2021 season, which would make him an unrestricted free agent after the 2024 season. Giving him a deal soon would not only solidify his spot on the Orioles for years to come but also show that the Orioles are preparing for the next several years at becoming contenders again.

Means is also entering his prime years, as he is set to turn 28 years old on April 24 and may have his best years ahead of him.

So what could a contract extension look like if it is set to begin next season and cover Means’ arbitration years? A good starting point would be the Luis Severino contract he signed with the Yankees before the 2019 season.

Severino inked a four-year, $40 million contract with a club option for a fifth season valued at $15 million with a $2.75 million buyout. The deal covered all three years of arbitration, plus two extra seasons of Yankee control. It was a contract that gave Severino more money earlier in his career but would save the Yankees money over time.

This could be a starting point for Means, who has not had the same success as Severino has had. However, there is a striking similarity between the two pitchers.

At the time, Severino was seen as the Yankees’ ace and one of the best pitchers in baseball. Means may not be one of the best in the league, but he is undoubtedly the Orioles’ ace. They need to keep him around for the future and make sure that happens sooner rather than later.

Pitching has not been a friend of Baltimore’s over the past few seasons. The team ranked last in the American League in ERA (5.59), home runs allowed (305) and earned runs (897) in 2019. Of all the bad pitchers from that season, Means stood out as one of the best, if not the best.

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The time is coming up for the Orioles to make it known that they want to take this ball club to the next level over the next few seasons and a Means’ extension would be a great start. If the Orioles can get him signed to a deal similar to Severino’s, they might have themselves a solid ace for the next half-decade.