How Adam Frazier signing impacts this Gold Glover
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At last week’s Winter Meetings in San Diego, general manager Mike Elias indicated that Ramón Urías was unlikely to spend as much time at third base for the Orioles in 2023, even though he won the American League Gold Glove Award at the position in ‘22. Instead, Urías appeared to be tabbed for another starting spot in the infield.
“Urías projects to play a lot of second base with the current roster construction,” Elias shared.
The makeup of Baltimore’s roster is different now, though, with Adam Frazier brought into the fold. The 31-year-old -- who will make $8 million next season, a source told MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand -- has spent the bulk of his seven-year big league career at second base, making 515 of his 643 career starts there.
Sure, Frazier may contribute to the corner-outfield mix, allowing Austin Hays and Anthony Santander to get off their feet a bit more and make additional starts at designated hitter. But Frazier could be pegged for a role similar to the one Rougned Odor had for the O’s last season. (Odor, now a free agent and unlikely to return, made 111 starts at second in 2022.)
So, where does that leave Urías heading into ‘23?
Last spring, Urías didn’t have a set position heading into camp, either. He was mostly splitting time with Jorge Mateo at shortstop early in Grapefruit League action, and it wasn’t even a guarantee Urías would break camp with the big league team.
Urías has more of a track record after playing a career-high 118 games this past season, including 98 at third base. But the arrival of Gunnar Henderson makes it unlikely Urías will spend nearly as much time at the hot corner in 2023.
Henderson, Baltimore’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 2 prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline, reached the Majors on Aug. 31 and impressed over the final month of the 2022 season. The 21-year-old is best on the left side of the infield, and he committed no errors over 172 2/3 innings while playing third for the O’s. He should be a great fit there for the long term.
Mateo is likely to remain at shortstop, where he won a Fielding Bible Award this past season. He had 14 defensive runs saved, the third most in MLB at the position.
Perhaps Urías, a right-handed hitter, ends up in a platoon situation at second with Frazier, who posted a career-low .612 OPS over a career-high 156 games in his lone season with the Mariners in 2022. But Frazier has a much higher ceiling than that, as he proved in ‘21, when he was named an All-Star while batting .305/.368/.411 with five homers, 36 doubles and 43 RBIs over 155 games with the Pirates and the Padres.
If Frazier, Mateo and Henderson all lock down starting jobs, Urías might end up serving in a utility infield role, something he clearly could handle.
“I’m really comfortable putting Ramón in a lot of different places, to be honest with you,” manager Brandon Hyde said at the Winter Meetings. “That’s what’s so great about Ramon, is the versatility. And the more guys we can have like that, that can move around the field, it just benefits us.”
Earlier this offseason, Urías was already aware that he might be asked to do that, even after a stellar year in which he rarely played anywhere other than third base.
“My belief is obviously that this is the best performance that I have had in the infield,” Urías said after winning the Gold Glove in November. “But [in] my playing time with the Orioles, I’ve always been moving around the infield. So I’ll be ready for anything.”
Now that Rawlings introduced a utility category for its Gold Glove Awards in 2022, maybe Urías could even still find a way to win some more hardware in ‘23.