BALTIMORE -- The Orioles used one of the Majors’ most fungible rosters in 2021, using 62 players and 42 pitchers over the course of the 162-game season. And without a single player signed to a guaranteed contract for ’22, more shuffling is on the horizon.
Let’s take a look at where the club’s roster stands as it heads into the winter:
Pedro Severino (first-year arbitration-eligible)
The Orioles everyday catcher since 2019 looks like a non-tender candidate with top prospect Adley Rutschman arriving soon. Severino slumped early in ’21 and finished with 11 homers and .690 OPS in 113 games.
Ryan Mountcastle (pre-arbitration)
Mountcastle came on after a slow start and set the franchise rookie home run record, with 33. His development was a major bright spot in a year the Orioles spent searching for long-term pieces.
Trey Mancini (third-year arbitration-eligible)
Has Mancini played his last game in Baltimore? He’s a trade candidate due to the sizable raise he’s projected for in arbitration, after returning from Stage 3 colon cancer to hit 21 homers with a .758 OPS in 147 games.
Ramón Urías (pre-arbitration)
By Wins Above Replacement, Urías was more valuable in ’21 than Mountcastle among O’s rookies and the club’s fifth-most valuable player overall. Much of that value was packed into his .361 OBP and solid defense.
Jahmai Jones (pre-arbitration)
Acquired from the Angels in the Alex Cobb trade, Jones earned a promotion from Triple-A Norfolk in August but struggled in Baltimore on both sides of the ball. He will get a chance to win a big league job come Spring Training.
Kelvin Gutierrez (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles cut ties with Maikel Franco in August and replaced him with Gutiérrez, whom they acquired off waivers from Kansas City. He didn’t hit much but surprised with his glove work at third, where Gutiérrez compiled five Outs Above Average in just 47 games.
Jorge Mateo (pre-arbitration)
Claimed off waivers from the Padres in August, Mateo showed the elite skillset that once made him a top prospect before his season ended prematurely due to back issues. He appears poised for a larger role in ’22, whether that is at shortstop or in a multi-positional role.
Richie Martin (pre-arbitration)
Martin will likely fall short of Super-2 status, which would give the Orioles one less difficult decision in arbitration. This summer, he returned quickly enough from a left wrist fracture to squeeze 37 games in at the big league level, his first since '19. But the results both offensively (.235 AVG, 1 HR) and defensively (-6 OAA) left him looking up the depth chart at others by season’s end.
Austin Hays (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles finally got to see what a healthy Hays can do and it was productive, with Hays coupling 22 homers with solid defense playing primarily left field. He looks like a mainstay going forward beside Cedric Mullins in Baltimore’s outfield.
DJ Stewart (pre-arbitration)
Stewart played through a knee injury that required surgery in October, mainly as the O’s fourth outfielder. He showed power (12 homers) and on-base skills (44 walks) but struggled to assert himself among Hays, Mullins and others for regular playing time.
Cedric Mullins (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles’ hands-down highlight of ’21 was Mullins’ emergence into an All-Star and franchise cornerstone. He is one of the game’s top leadoff hitters, an elite defender, only 27 and under team control through 2025.
Ryan McKenna (pre-arbitration)
McKenna’s defense and baserunning ability stood out in a reserve role, though the rookie hit only .183 in 90 games. He’ll likely battle Stewart for the O’s fourth outfielder job come spring.
Anthony Santander (second-year arbitration-eligible)
The switch-hitting slugger endured a down year amid injuries, hitting 18 homers with .720 OPS (92 OPS+). He is a trade candidate heading into his second arb winter.
Tyler Nevin (pre-arbitration)
Nevin opened eyes with his first career homer, a 442-foot shot in Toronto during the season’s final game. The 24-year-old should get a longer look next spring for a bench role.
LHP John Means (first-year arbitration-eligible)
Means cemented himself as a dependable — and at times, dominant — big league rotation piece in ’21, pitching to a 3.62 ERA in 26 starts. His May 5 no-hitter in Seattle ranks as one of the top single-game pitching performances in franchise history. Now Means is due for a big raise in arbitration — could he be on the move via trade this winter?
RHP Matt Harvey (free agent after World Series)
Signed to a minor league deal last winter, Harvey earned a rotation job and proved durable, if inconsistent, while pitching to his highest workload in three years. The 32-year old is no longer a star (6.27 ERA), but could be someone the Orioles look to bring back for rotation depth.
LHP Bruce Zimmermann (pre-arbitration)
The Baltimore native proved the most effective of the many rookie starters the Orioles auditioned in ’21, going 4-5 with a 5.04 ERA in 13 mostly first-half starts. He also missed more than three months to shoulder and ankle injuries.
LHP Keegan Akin (pre-arbitration)
Akin showed flashes of reliability in the rotation and ‘pen during what was ultimately a disjointed season, the left-hander going 2-10 with a 6.63 ERA. Next spring should go a long way toward determining if he fits better as a starter or reliever long-term.
LHP Zac Lowther (pre-arbitration)
Another rookie left-hander, Lowther struggled in sporadic opportunities but finished strong, posting a 2.70 ERA in his final three starts. He’ll battle for a rotation job next spring.
RHP Dean Kremer (pre-arbitration)
After a strong debut in ’20, Kremer opened ’21 in the rotation and flopped, going 0-7 with a 7.55 ERA in 13 starts. He was demoted to Triple-A in June and returned for only one September start, before finishing the year back at Norfolk.
RHP Chris Ellis (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles are expected to cycle several journeyman type arms off the roster this winter. Ellis might be safe after pitching to a 2.49 ERA in six starts down the stretch, given his ability to pitch as both a starter and in relief.
LHP Alexander Wells (pre-arbitration)
The rookie left-hander was known as a control artist in the Minors, but struggled to translate that command consistently in 11 games (eight starts) at the big league level. He’ll be in the mix for a rotation job next spring alongside Lowther, Akin, Kremer and others.
RHP Tyler Wells (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles love what they found in Wells, a Rule 5 pick who grew into their closer by season’s end. The 6-8 right-hander has one of the highest ceilings in Baltimore’s 'pen heading into ’22.
RHP Cole Sulser (pre-arbitration)
The 31-year-old Sulser was the Orioles’ most consistent reliever in ’21, pitching to a 2.70 ERA in 60 starts and holding his own against both righties and lefties. That success could make him a trade candidate this offseason.
RHP Dillon Tate (pre-arbitration)
Durable (62 appearances) but prone to big innings, Tate was still one of the club’s more consistent relief arms in ’21 (4.39 ERA). The former top prospect is likely to return in a setup role in 2022.
LHP Tanner Scott (first-year arbitration-eligible)
Scott’s 5.17 ERA doesn’t tell the story of how dominant he was at times in ’21 — but it does speak to the consistency issues that still plague the left-hander. They remain rooted in command: Scott coupled his 28 percent strikeout rate with a 15 percent walk rate, and struggled in save situations. Still, his high-voltage stuff makes him a trade candidate.
LHP Paul Fry (first-year arbitration-eligible)
Fry was arguably the Orioles’ top reliever at the Trade Deadline and then nosedived, finishing the year at Triple-A after a nightmarish August. He fell victim to sudden and stark command issues in the second half, and now looks like a non-tender candidate.
RHP Michael Baumann (pre-arbitration)
The Orioles are going to stretch Baumann, their No. 10 prospect, out as a starter come spring and go from there. The right-hander debuted in a bullpen role down the stretch this season, making four appearances in middle relief.
RHP Hunter Harvey (pre-arbitration)
It was another disappointing year for the oft-injured Harvey, who was limited to nine appearances due to lat and shoulder issues. The hard-throwing righty will turn 27 in December with just 26 big league appearances to his name.
RHP Marcos Diplán (pre-arbitration)
Diplán appeared in the Futures Game alongside Rutschman and then held opponents scoreless in six of his first seven big league appearances. He showed well enough (4.50 ERA) in middle relief for a chance to survive this winter’s roster shuffling.