O's avoid arbitration with Bundy, Givens, Villar

Baltimore claims infielder Alberto off waivers, designates Susac for assignment

January 11th, 2019

Friday's deadline to exchange salary figures with arbitration-eligible players came and went without much drama for the Orioles. By inking , and to one-year contracts, the club avoided arbitration hearings with all three of its eligible players.
The financial figures of the contracts were not disclosed. And though Bundy, Givens and Villar likely received modest raises on their 2018 salaries, none had much leverage leading into Friday's 1 p.m. ET deadline, for which the Orioles took a "file and trial" approach.
Essentially, "file and trial" clubs approach the arbitration figure exchange date as a hard deadline. If the team and player are unable to avoid arbitration prior to exchanging salary figures, the organization no longer negotiates on one-year deals with that player. Typically, "file and trial" clubs will still be open to discussing multiyear contracts in the weeks between exchanging figures and heading to an arbitration hearing, however.
That ended up being the preferred approach for new Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, whose first arbitration-eligible crop also ranked among baseball's smallest. The group was tightened when and were non-tendered in November.
The Orioles have not gone to an arbitration hearing with a player since 2017, when they won their case against Joseph but lost to reliever .
Bundy, who was first-time arbitration-eligible, is expected to earn more than the $1.6 million he made this past season despite struggling in 2018, when he went 8-16 with a career-high 5.45 ERA across 31 starts. Those 16 losses and the 41 home runs Bundy allowed led all American League pitchers, but Bundy still remains the Orioles' nominal No. 1 starter heading into '19.
Villar enjoyed a bounce-back season at age 27, and hit .258/.336/.392 with eight home runs and 21 stolen bases following his midseason trade from Milwaukee. Overall, Villar hit .260/.325/.384 with 14 home runs and 35 stolen bases in 2018, when he earned $2.55 million. This was the second baseman's second year of arbitration eligibility. 
Givens was first-year arbitration-eligible after this past season, which he finished as the Orioles' closer. While the 28-year-old right-hander did save nine games down the stretch, they likely came too late to help his negotiating power this offseason. Saves have historically been highly valued in the arbitration process, often higher than any other relief stat. And though he's been effective -- pitching to a career 3.12 ERA and striking out more than 10 batters per nine -- the large majority of Givens' work has come in setup roles. He also went 0-7 with a career-worst 3.99 ERA in 2018. 
O's add infield depth
As has been a theme of Elias' first winter at the helm, the Orioles acquired more infield depth Friday by claiming off waivers from the Yankees. Alberto had been designated for assignment by New York earlier in the day to make room for Zach Britton.
To clear space on their own 40-man roster, the Orioles designated catcher for assignment.
Alberto has hit just .192 across parts of three big league seasons, all with the Rangers. A 26-year-old with the ability to play all four infield positions, Alberto is a career .309 hitter at Triple-A. But he's shown little power -- just 19 home runs in 1,000 career plate appearances -- at that level. Bringing him into the fold gives the Orioles yet another middle-infield option heading into Spring Training. The O's can now break camp with seven infielders capable of playing multiple positions, including five who primarily play up the middle.
Once a highly-touted prospect, Susac bounced from the Giants to the Brewers before spending 2018 with Baltimore. He hit .115 in nine games for the Orioles, and is a career .221 hitter across 113 big league contests. Parting with Susac gives the O's just two catchers on their 40-man roster, though the club has reportedly signed journeyman catcher on a Minor League deal.