Pros and cons of Orioles offering John Means an immediate extension

John Means is one of the longest-tenured players in Birdland, but does that warrant him getting a contract extension ASAP?
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles
Boston Red Sox v Baltimore Orioles / G Fiume/GettyImages

It’s crazy to think John Means first got called up to the Orioles seven seasons ago. What is also crazy to think about is he has been in the organization for 10 years… and that he is no longer arbitration eligible after this season.

This means that neither the Orioles, nor Means, have the luxury of having an arbitrator help them get to the right value. It is up to both parties to strike the right deal … if it is even worth doing so coming off a 2023 season that satisfied very few questions about Means' status moving forward.

There is no question Means bleeds black and orange, but does that mean it is worth offering him an immediate extension? There are certainly some pros and cons to the Orioles considering working on a deal with the southpaw now.

Orioles Extending John Means: Pros and Cons

Pro: Ensuring a lefty in the rotation

Something that is underrated in baseball is having a lefty pitcher in your starting rotation, especially come playoff time. In fact, no team has won the World Series without a lefty starting a game in the Fall Classic since the 2015 Kansas City Royals. And, even then, their opponents (the Mets) had a lefty start a 2015 World Series game.

Looking beyond just that fact, a lefty starting pitcher brings a whole different dynamic to the rotation, and it can force the hand of opposing teams. Certain players do not match up well against lefties, which can be a big bonus when you put your lefty on the mound.

For that reason alone, keeping Means around could be a smart move.

Con: He might not be a rotation piece post-injury

Once Means comes back from injury, we do not know how he will respond. He has pitched in all of six games the past two seasons as he has battled numerous injuries, so coming back to form could be a struggle for him.

Even if Means does not struggle in his return to the majors, it might be wise to limit his innings and maybe avoid having him return to being a full-time starter. The worst-case scenario would be that Means would slide into that long reliever role, and, for contractual purposes, extending him now as a listed starter could cost the Orioles more money than waiting to find out whether Means becomes a bullpen piece.

Pro: Means’ current market value is pretty reasonable

Means’ current valuation is less than $12 million per year, and Spotrac is projecting a two-year contract at less than $10 million per year for the southpaw right now. If you are the Orioles and you do not want one of your longest-tenured players to leave at the conclusion of 2024, that alone should be enough reason to offer Means an extension right now.

Con: Means’ market value could diminish

There is always the oft chance that Means would become completely overpaid after this year if the Orioles give him a contract extension now. If he comes back and is a 5.50+ ERA pitcher, then $10 million would start to look like a steep price to pay.

Hindsight is always 20/20, though, as the market for Means could increase if he has a solid 2024 season, especially considering the somewhat lackluster overall 2025 free agency pitching class.

Pro: It could help keep the young core around for the long haul

Take what Birds Watcher's own Eric Cole said recently. He talked about the Atlanta Braves model in signing their core to more team-friendly contracts because they are all bought in. That starts with keeping around the longer tenured and well-respected players like Means and Ryan Mountcastle.

If the O’s keep Means around, they are showing what loyalty to the team will get you, especially with the new ownership wanting to make an instant impact on the game of baseball.

Con: Means will be 32 next season

Means is quietly getting up there in age. It has been five years since his All-Star nod and three since throwing a no-hitter, and he is now over the age of 30. And while many MLB stars in recent years have signed contracts that will not expire until they are 40-plus, age is certainly something to consider, especially depending on Means’ current asking price/looking at his recent injury history.

Pro: Means could alleviate the pain of losing Corbin Burnes

No, John Means is no Corbin Burnes. However, he was once a solidified ace in the Orioles rotation, and keeping a guy like him around would help ease the burden if Burnes ultimately does walk in free agency, even if it is just a slight ease.

Losing two formidable starters the year after people were making a big deal about the Orioles rotation potentially being elite would hurt. Only losing one, on the other hand, can be dealt with over time.

Means getting an extension now feels honestly crucial for the long haul, especially with Dean Kremer and Kyle Bradish hitting their first arbitration years after the 2024 campaign, and Grayson Rodriguez still in pre-arbitration following the season.