Why Orioles’ Jackson Holliday decision could backfire on Baltimore

Jackson Holliday could turn the Orioles decision into a major mistake.

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jackson Holliday
Baltimore Orioles second baseman Jackson Holliday / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to argue with the Baltimore Orioles decision to keep top prospect Jackson Holliday in the minor leagues to start the 2024 season. Yes, O's fans would love to see the team's prospect lineup at second base on Opening Day at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels, but Baltimore made the decision late last week to reassign the 20-year-old to minor league camp.

Of course, the Orioles could have selected Holliday's contract, postponed the inevitable, and added the best prospect in baseball to the active roster. Instead, Holliday will start the year at Triple-A and is just one phone call away from making his major league debut.

The Orioles had their reasons. While some may disagree, the truth of the matter is that Holliday barely got his feet wet at Triple-A in 2023, has a limited number of games at second base, and needs some more seasoning against left-handed pitching. But, if Holliday has the type of rookie year that many O's fans believe he can, Baltimore's decision to leave Holliday off the Opening Day roster could blow up in their face.

Why Orioles’ Jackson Holliday decision could backfire on Baltimore

Major League Baseball and the Players Association had contentious negotiations prior to the 2022 season. One of the chief complaints from the MLBPA was the manipulation of service time. Certain teams kept top prospects in the minor leagues for a couple extra weeks to start the year in order to gain an additional year of team control. The union famously fought for then-Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, but the former MVP ultimately lost the grievance back in 2020.

This did, however, lead to a change in the collective bargaining agreement; one that the Orioles took full advantage of last season. The Prospect Performance Incentive (PPI) allowed both the Orioles and Arizona Diamondbacks to receive an extra pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. Gunnar Henderson won the AL Rookie of the Year Award and Corbin Carroll won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. As such, both the O's and D-backs were rewarded with an additional draft pick.

But that won't apply to Holliday. Since Holliday was left off the Orioles Opening Day roster, he's unlikely to gain a full year of service time (172 days), which would disqualify Baltimore from receiving draft compensation if the infielder were to take home the 2024 AL Rookie of the Year Award.

Holliday isn't a shoo-in for the award. With players Evan Carter, Colt Keith, and Wyatt Langford looking like the real deal, the competition for top rookie honors in the American League will be quite fierce in 2024. But the Orioles will be kicking themselves this fall if Holliday receives a midseason call-up, goes on a tear, and takes home the trophy.

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