Adley Rutschman joined the Baltimore Orioles in 2019 as the first overall pick in that year’s MLB draft. He was given a record-breaking $8.1 million signing bonus and was sent into the Orioles’ developmental system.
Rutschman missed the start of the 2022 season due to a strained tricep but returned a few months later after rehabilitation. Since then, he’s been proving himself to be one of the most valuable assets on the Orioles roster.
Rutschman and third baseman Gunnar Henderson provide the Orioles with a solid young core to build their team around. However, this will only be possible if the O’s are able to keep Henderson and Rutschman around. To do that, they’ll probably have to cough up more than team owner John Angelos would like.
John Angelos’ Road To Nowhere
The Orioles have created one of the best developmental systems in major league baseball today. They have several top prospects waiting in the wings, many of which could become major players for the Orioles in a few years’ time. However, just as these players hit their stride, John Angelos decides to trade them away to avoid paying them their worth.
This year, the Orioles retained the top spot in the MLB Pipeline Farm System Rankings for the fourth consecutive time between preseason and midseason. It’s admittedly a bit hard to feel excited about this accolade anymore. The Orioles develop solid players, but they haven’t kept any around to see them fully blossom into major leaguers.
What good is a stellar developmental system if the team never sees the fruits of their labor? Something needs to change if the Orioles are ever going to see another World Series. More specifically, Angelos needs to open his wallet and pay up.
Teams with a higher payroll are exponentially more likely to make it to the World Series. Even “small market” champions, such as the 2003 Marlins, were still in the top half of MLB payroll rankings for their championship years.
The O’s Need Stars. Rutschman Could Be Their Best Chance
On opening day, Rutschman put on a historic performance and helped lead the Orioles to a 10-9 victory over the Red Sox. The catcher homered and went 5-for-5 at the plate in addition to earning four RBIs. His performance is more astounding once you learn that no MLB catcher has ever recorded five hits or gotten on base six times in a season-opening game.
While there isn’t exactly a rush for the O’s to get an extension for Rutschman in writing, it should be a top priority for them. Rutschman’s price is only getting higher the more time goes on. With Angelos’ questionable priorities, there’s a good likelihood that the Orioles’ owner might be unwilling to pay him what Rutschman will demand in a year’s time.
For the O’s sake, Angelos needs to increase the team’s market size. A good place to start would be to extend Rutschman’s contract and award him the big old payday he deserves.