MLB Trade Rumors on Friday posted their annual arbitration salary projections for the 2024 season. The Orioles have 16 players eligible for arbitration this winter, and their cases vary. Who's going to require a chunk of the wallet, and who will come cheap?
Some Birds will cost a lot, others could come very cheap
The Orioles are tied for second with 16 total players eligible for arbitration next year. Only the Yankees have more with 17. The numbers posted by MLB Trade Rumors are just projections, but their model has proven successful in the past for estimating what a player might fetch in arbitration should he and his team get there. Brandon Hyde and Mike Elias, of course, will hope to avoid getting to that point with many of their current players.
Anthony Santander: A Lot
No surprise here as "Tony Taters" is projected to cost $12.7 million in arbitration. 28 home runs and 95 runs batted in highlighted a strong campaign at the plate for the right fielder. Santander also executed a .995 fielding percentage, making his signature one the Birds must maintain. A strong postseason performance will surely multiply that pressure if the Venezuelan leads Baltimore to the October Classic.
Austin Hays: You will need your wallet
Birdland's #21 will not break the bank in arbitration, but he is not coming for free either. Hays is estimated to be worth $6.1 million in 2024. An All-Star year coupled with a .275 batting average and over 50 extra-base hits make the left fielder worth it.
His perfect fielding record is a cherry on top of his hefty fee. These projections are not guaranteed evaluations, but a ballpark figure that is not far away from what the price would end up being.
Keegan Akin: Not that much
The 28-year-old relief pitcher endured a horrid year, and his arbitration price suffers as a result. Akin is projected to only be worth $800,000 in 2024. Multiple outings of less than one inning while allowing several earned runs, coupled with an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season, makes the southpaw a likely candidate to not have much room for negotiation. Birdland wishes him a speedy return to his 2022 pitching form.
Cedric Mullins: A decent amount
Hyde's preferred center fielder hit a lackluster .233 this season. Not an impressive number, but not low enough to detract from the 50+ extra-base hits he smacked for the O's. His fielding percentage of .99 also factors into his $6.4 million arbitration evaluation. Mullins, at 29 years of age, is considered one of the veterans on this young Orioles squad. That should help him if it comes down to negotiations.
Ryan McKenna: Coming cheap
The beginning of the season seems so far away from where the Birds stand now. To think that it began with McKenna dropping a fly ball that handed the Red Sox an unlikely win. Unfortunately, the outfielder was not able to shake off the error and might not even make the roster for the postseason.
A .254 batting average with a lack of extra-base hits sees arbitration projection sit at a lowly $740,000. Only his reputation for being a kind and hard-working player gives him a boost for next season.