Orioles avoid arbitration with 2023 breakout player

The Orioles agreed to a contract with their last remaining arbitration-eligible player
Oct 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan O'Hearn (32) hits a single
Oct 10, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Baltimore Orioles first baseman Ryan O'Hearn (32) hits a single / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Baltimore has secured the services of first baseman Ryan O'Hearn for 2024. The two sides came to an agreement that gives the 30-year-old veteran $3.5 million this season. According to the Associated Press, the agreement was at the salary midpoint for the club and player. A hearing was scheduled for February 16, but that is now avoided.

O'Hearn reached or matched career highs in several areas at the plate in 2023. His .289 batting average made him a reliable asset to get on base. Meanwhile, 14 home runs and 60 RBIs proved the lefty was a threat to knock in runs himself.

The Orioles have had a busy offseason in the arbitration market. The club had a major league high 13 players eligible for a hearing this offseason. All of them now have contracts for 2024, keeping them in Birdland for what could prove to be another historic season. Only two players, Austin Hays and Jacob Webb, went to a hearing with the team, with both players winning their cases.

Where O'Hearn fits into the depth chart

The veteran played 112 games last season. Him and Ryan Mountcastle split time at first base, with the two making occasional appearances as a DH when not in the infield. The younger Mountcastle is expected to see more playing time in 2024 as his age projects him to have a longer future as an Oriole.

Another player, as yet unproven, that could knock O'Hearn lower down the pecking order is Heston Kjerstad. The rookie had a minimal 30 plate appearances in 2023, however, two of his seven hits were home runs. It will be the 25-year-old's time to shine in the major leagues.

It's looking like another year of an almost even platoon at first base between O'Hearn and Mountcastle, with O'Hearn also able to draw starts in the outfield if Brandon Hyde wishes to keep his bat in the lineup more often.