Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson contracts officially renewed by Orioles

Two of the Orioles brightest stars have their contracts renewed for 2024
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles / Jess Rapfogel/GettyImages

The Baltimore Orioles are getting ready to kick start another season with lots of excitement. The Birds will be looking to defend their AL East crown and improve on their playoff performance from a year ago. They made some key additions to the team while hanging on to virtually every impact player from last season.

Two of those impact players, Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, have become two of the brightest stars in the league. Rutschman has been named the best catcher in baseball by multiple sources, and Henderson was the unanimous choice for the AL Rookie of the Year. Both of these superstars have long careers ahead of them that will allow them to earn enough money to be more than comfortable for the rest of their lives, but they're both still on rookie contracts at the moment.

On March 13, it was announced that Rutschman and Henderson had those contracts renewed by the Orioles. Only 12 players in the league had their salaries set by their teams after not reaching an agreement. Rutschman will earn $760,300 this season, an increase of $26,400 from last season, and Henderson will make $756,200, and increase of $23,000 from last season. It is also worth noting that Rutschman and Henderson made $1,798,439 and $1,428,001 respectively from the pre-arbitration bonus pool.

Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman contract details revealed for 2024

Even with the bonus pool paying them approximately double their salaries, Rutschman and Henderson are grossly underpaid for their talents. MLB Network named Rutschman the top catcher in baseball and Henderson the sixth-best third baseman in baseball (he played third base slightly more than shortstop last season). It's reasonable to believe that he would be ranked in a similar position if they'd graded him as a shortstop.

Utilizing Spotrac, I calculated that the other top nine third basemen have an average contract of six years and approximately $26.25 million per season, while the top 10 shortstops have an average contract of 7.5 years and approximately $26.75 million per season. Henderson is the only player still on a rookie contract at either position. Rutschman, on the other hand, is one of six catchers in the top 10 that are still on rookie contracts, five of whom are pre-arbitration eligible. Still, the other top nine catchers have an average contract just shy of 2.5 years in length at a little under $13.25 million per season.

The average top 10 catcher makes approximately $13.25 million; that average is brought down by the number of rookie contracts. The top three contracts, owned by J.T. Realmuto, Sean Murphy and Willson Contreras, average out to just under $17.6 million per season, with Realmuto earning the highest average of $23.1 million per season. Realmuto is earning that over a five-year contract, but he is almost seven years older than Rutschman. Long-term contracts for catchers can be risky, but Rutschman seems to be worth the risk.

O's fans have been pleading with ownership to extend these players, and others, so they can stay Orioles for life. John Angelos is still currently the Orioles owner, and we have all read about his feelings on the matter. The new ownership group, headed by David Rubenstein, has given fans a light at the end of the tunnel. Rubenstein has not yet taken over, so it is yet to be seen how aggressive he will be, but the group certainly has the means to retain or obtain anyone they desire.

What do you think it will take to keep these two in Baltimore for their careers?