05 December 2014

Non-Tendered Players Who Could Help the Orioles in 2015 (and Beyond)

Gordon Beckham ponders who he'll play
for next (Photo via Keith Allison)
At midnight Wednesday morning, Major League Baseball’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players came and went. A complete explanation of this process can be found here at MLB Trade Rumors, but if you want to be lazy, all you need to know is that anyone not tendered a contract becomes a free agent.  As expected, the Orioles tendered contracts to all 11 of their arbitration eligible players, though it doesn’t mean they’ll all be on the 2015 opening day roster.  Overall, a total of 32 players were not tendered contracts.  The complete list of players who were non-tendered can be found here.  Here’s a look at some players who could possibly help the Orioles in 2015, and possibly beyond.

Pitchers

There aren’t too many options here, as they either fall into one of two categories: injury prone and/or low-strikeout/high-walk pitchers with limited major league experience.  Alexi Ogando, Kris Medlen, and Brandon Beachy are the only three really worth mentioning, and each has had their share of injury problems.  Beachy (who made $1.45 million in 2014) and Ogando ($2.63 million in 2014) were scheduled for their 2nd trip through arbitration, while Medlen ($5.8 million in 2014) would have gone through the process for the 3rd time.  Ogando has been an effective reliever (and starter in 2011) most of his career (6.7 fWAR in 406 IP), but has spent a total of 207 games on the disabled list since 2012, including a 60-day DL stint this year for right elbow sprain (possibly a pre-cursor to Tommy John surgery) that endd his season in June.  Medlen (8.6 fWAR in 512.2 IP) and Beachy (4.8 fWAR in 267.2 IP) have both recently had Tommy John surgery for the second time, and neither one pitched in 2014.  The chances of a return to form from a second TJ surgery aren’t nearly as high, so signing either of these former Braves pitchers would come with extreme risk.

The Orioles could inquire about each of these pitchers as bullpen options, but I would think the chances of signing them would be small, not only because of the injury history, but also because most pitchers in their situations seem to return to their original teams.

Outfielders


Here at the Depot, we’ve spent a lot of time discussing what the team should do regarding their outfield in 2015.  This will likely continue with the departure of Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis.  John Mayberry, recently non-tendered by the Toronto Blue Jays should not be considered as a starting option to replace either player, however, he’d be a good fit as an extra outfielder/masher of left-handed pitching.  Essentially, he’d be a replacement for Delmon Young, who won’t embarrass himself playing in an outfield corner.  In fact, over their careers, Mayberry has not only been a better outfielder than Young, he’s been a better hitter against left-handed pitching.

Career Statistics vs. LHP
Career Defensive Statistics

Young is asking for a 2-year deal this offseason, while Mayberry was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to make $1.9 million in his second year of arbitration.  Since he was non-tendered, it’s unlikely he’ll cost close to that, making him a decent fit for the Orioles in 2015 and (possibly) 2016 as an extra outfielder.


Blanks owns a career .234/.319/.407 (AVG/OBP/SLG) career triple slash line in 862 plate appearances.   Similar to Mayberry, he’s been a better hitter against left-handed pitching, but the difference isn’t as large (he actually has a career 101 wRC+ against right-handers).  He also offers a similar defensive profile, spending time in the corner outfield positions and first base.  The two problems with Banks are contact, as he’s the owner of a 29.6% career strikeout rate and health, since he's already racked up 3 60-day DL stints in his young career.  Those injuries were for TJ surgery on his throwing elbow, labrum shoulder in his non-throwing shoulder, and most recently a partially torn calf muscle, so they weren't trivial injuries.  Other than the health and strikeouts, Mayberry and Banks are very similar players, so the Orioles wouldn’t need both. Banks made just $988,000 in his second year of arbitration in 2014, so he could end up being the cheaper option of the two, but also much less certain to stay on the field.


Heathcott was one of the more surprising names that popped up Wednesday morning, as the Yankees decided not to tender a contract to the former top prospect after two years ruined by injuries.  The major knock on Heathcott has been his inability to stay healthy, although he was on Keith Law’s Top 100 prospect list (number 57) as recently as 2013.  Law had this to say about him that year:
“For pure tools, however, he dominated the field in Arizona and has a special mix of strength and quickness that might put him among the top 20 prospects in the game in a year.”
The 2013 season wasn’t kind to Heathcott though as he played through his knee injury and fell off Law’s list in 2014 due in part to that injury.  Additionally, Law mentioned that his makeup was never considered a strong suit and had a scout tell him that Heathcott's “legitimately a crazy person”.  I’m not necessarily advocating a 40 man roster spot, but Heathcott would be interesting on a minor league contract, and would add a player with some possible upside to a system that lacks impact position players at the upper levels.

Infielders


Beckham is a former first round pick and top prospect who had an excellent rookie season (2.5 fWAR in 430 PA’s), but hasn’t done much since.  He had his worst year in 2014, and was essentially replacement level at the keystone.  At this point, with a 2014 wRC+ of 70, he may not much of a better hitter than Schoop (although he did have a wRC+ of 88 as recently as 2013) and doesn’t offer the same defensive value.  Beckham made $4.75 million in his second year of arbitration in 2014, but should be available at a greatly reduced rate.  Although it’s unlikely, I’m of the belief that Jonathan Schoop could use some more time to develop as a hitter in AAA, so I think a low base/incentive-laden contract for Beckham to begin the year as the Orioles starting second baseman isn’t a bad idea with the hope that he hits like he did in 2013.


Whereas Beckham offers depth at second base, Rosales may be the better option due to the fact that he can pretty much play anywhere.  However, with his defensive profile (utility infielder) and a career wRC+ of 74, he’s very similar to Ryan Flaherty, so his acquisition (even on a minor league contract) is probably unnecessary.  Still, he’d be a decent player on a cheap salary to have in the organization in case of injury.

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That’s it.  If those players don’t get you filled with excitement, it’s because they shouldn’t.  Typically you won’t find many productive players in the list of non-tenders because their original teams want to keep them.  None of these players will likely set the world on fire next year, but they could end up playing a key role for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015 if used correctly.  Make no mistake, it will be a small key role, but it could be a key role nonetheless.

3 comments:

Bonzi said...

I'd add Gaby Sanchez to your list if Young isn't re-signed. Similar hitter: terrible vs. righties, pretty solid against lefties. He can play (or at least, knows where to stand) a couple of different positions. Won't cost a thing.

Nate Delong said...

Sanchez is a decent target, but he's really only an option at first base (only 7 innings TOTAL at other positions). I originally didn't include him because I envisioned Pearce being the first baseman against LHP. Sanchez's inability to play anywhere other than 1B worried me. However, if the Orioles make Pearce the full time left/right fielder, Sanchez would be a good bench bat and platoon option for Chris Davis against RHP.

Erik said...

Mayberry is going to be more in demand, so Blanks may be all we can get. It is not like we actually bid against other teams for players.