What to know ahead of the O's offseason

November 4th, 2022

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With the World Series nearing its conclusion, the offseason will soon pick up for the Orioles and the rest of the baseball world. Important roster decisions will be made, the Hot Stove will inevitably heat up and the winter frenzy will begin.

Let’s get right into it this week with an FAQ-style primer giving you everything to know regarding the O’s offseason. 

Which players are free agents? 

C Robinson Chirinos, 2B Rougned Odor and 1B/DH Jesús Aguilar.

Are any of them likely to receive qualifying offers? 

No. The Orioles are unlikely to pay any of the three veterans that much, even if they have interest in bringing them back. 

Which players have options, what’s the impact on payroll and when does it need to be decided upon? 

Jordan Lyles has a club option for the 2023 season worth $11 million. If the Orioles choose not to exercise that option, they can buy out his contract for $1 million. 

This decision -- which must be made by five days after the end of the World Series -- could go either way. The 32-year-old right-hander was a workhorse this year, posting a 4.42 ERA over 179 innings in 32 starts. But the Orioles could part ways with Lyles after one season and look to add rotation help via free agency or trade.

Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?

Catcher Cam Gallagher could be a non-tender candidate. Baltimore has four backstops on its 40-man roster (not including Chirinos, who may not return), as it’s been stockpiling catching depth with recent waiver claims.

Gallagher, 29, is arbitration-eligible and may be the odd man out, as the O’s have plenty of other affordable internal options to serve as Adley Rutschman’s backup.

The non-tender deadline is Nov. 18. 

Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do they have a crunch for roster spots?

The Orioles will have 37 players on their 40-man roster once Chirinos, Odor and Aguilar become free agents and left-hander John Means (on the 60-day injured list) is re-added, which must happen after the World Series.

Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (Baltimore’s No. 2 prospect and the No. 4 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline) will need to be added, and the O’s will clearly make that happen. The Orioles’ other top prospects who will be Rule 5-eligible (if not protected) are right-hander Seth Johnson (No. 10), shortstop Joseph Ortiz (No. 17) and left-hander Drew Rom (No. 19).

So the O’s will have some tough decisions to make before the deadline on Nov. 15. Plus, if they hope to add a player in the Rule 5 Draft themselves -- something they did every year from 2006-20 -- they will need to keep a 40-man spot open.

What kind of help do they need, and will they be active in free agency? 

General manager Mike Elias didn’t say exactly how much the Orioles plan to spend this offseason during his end-of-season press conference, but he indicated it’d be more than the previous years of his tenure. So Baltimore will be active in the market -- it just isn’t fully clear how much so or which tiers of free agents it will target.  

The O’s could use a top-of-the-rotation starter, especially if they don’t bring back Lyles. They also may seek bullpen help and/or another big bat for the lineup. With a strong, young core in place, the Orioles could take another big step forward in ‘23 if they add the right complementary pieces. 

Who might they be willing to trade? 

Baltimore may soon have a logjam in the outfield. Cedric Mullins will likely continue to man center in 2023, with Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Kyle Stowers all candidates to start in the corners. But top prospects Colton Cowser (No. 4) and Heston Kjerstad (No. 9) are coming, with the former likely to arrive in the big leagues next season.

Hays or Santander (who are both arbitration-eligible) could be a top trade candidate, should the Orioles look to deal from an area of depth. They’ll soon need to clear room for Cowser, and they could strengthen another position group while doing so.