As Friday’s deadline to come to terms with arbitration-eligible players without needing to schedule a hearing approached, the Orioles reached agreements on 2023 salaries with five of their six eligible players, including their entire projected starting outfield.
Baltimore avoided arbitration with outfielders Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays, shortstop Jorge Mateo and right-hander Dillon Tate, but the team was unable to come to terms with right-hander Austin Voth and will exchange figures to determine his 2023 salary.
In his third of four years of arbitration, Santander will be paid $7.4 million, according to multiple reports. The deal makes him the Orioles’ second-highest-paid position player behind second baseman Adam Frazier, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with Baltimore as a free agent this offseason. Santander, 28, led the Orioles and all switch-hitters with 33 home runs in 2022, hitting .240 with a .773 OPS.
Baltimore’s lone All-Star in 2021, Mullins will be paid $4.1 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility, a source with direct knowledge of the agreement confirmed to The Baltimore Sun. Mullins, 28, became the first Oriole to record a 30-homer, 30-steal season in 2021, starting the All-Star Game and being recognized as Most Valuable Oriole and a Silver Slugger. He took a step back in 2022 but remained immensely valuable, hitting .258 with a .721 OPS, 16 home runs and 34 steals.
Hays, who settled at $3.2 million according to The Athletic, was also eligible for the first time. Once ranked as the organization’s top prospect, the 27-year-old got off to a tremendous start to the 2022 season, batting .287/.347/.482 in a 65-game stretch that concluded with a cycle against the Washington Nationals. But his year cratered from there, as he hit .219 with a .624 OPS in his final 80 games.
By many metrics, Mateo was one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops, earning the league-wide Fielding Bible Award despite not being a finalist for an American League Gold Glove Award at the position. Claimed on waivers from the San Diego Padres late in the 2021 season, Mateo, 27, played in a career-high 150 games as Baltimore’s primary shortstop, stealing an AL-best 35 bases but hitting only .221 with a .646 OPS. Arbitration eligible for the first time, Mateo will make $2 million in 2023, according to reports.
Tate, 28, has emerged as one of manager Brandon Hyde’s most dependable relievers and is expected to continue that role in 2023. The only player remaining with Baltimore of the three pitchers acquired from the New York Yankees in 2018 for closer Zack Britton, Tate has led the Orioles in appearances in each of the past two seasons. In 2022, he had a 3.05 ERA over 67 outings, allowing less than one base runner per inning. He and the Orioles settled at $1.5 million, a source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed.
Although Voth and the Orioles did not reach an agreement by Friday’s deadline, he will remain under team control. He and the team exchanged figures for his 2023 salary, with MLB.com reporting Voth filed at $2 million and the Orioles filed at $1.7 million, and a hearing to select one of those amounts will take place between late January and mid-February. Negotiations can continue before the hearing, though the Orioles’ expressed policy under executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is “file and go,” meaning negotiations cease after figures are exchanged.
Last year, the exchange deadline passed without deals for first baseman Trey Mancini and left-hander John Means, though the Orioles eventually agreed to contracts with both players before hearings. Under Elias, Santander is the only player to go to arbitration with the club, with a panel selecting the Orioles’ figure for his 2021 salary.
Voth, 30, had a 10.13 ERA for the Nationals when he was claimed on waivers by the Orioles, with whom he posted a 3.04 ERA in 17 starts and five relief appearances. He’s expected to contend for a rotation spot in spring training and otherwise would likely begin the season as a long reliever.
The Orioles’ five agreements total $18.2 million, more than triple the group’s collective 2022 salaries, and Voth’s deal will bring it to either $19.9 million or $20.2 million. Cot’s Baseball Contracts projected those players to receive about $19.6 million total, with MLB Trade Rumors forecasting $20.3 million. The six players will account for nearly a third of the Orioles’ opening day payroll, which Cot’s Baseball Contracts projects as at least $64.8 million, 29th of the 30 major league teams.
That includes the $1 million they will be responsible for of backup catcher James McCann’s $12 million salary in 2023. On Friday, the Orioles completed their trade for McCann by sending Luis De La Cruz, a 20-year-old who has played first base and outfield in the Dominican Summer League, to the New York Mets as the deal’s player to be named; as part of the trade, the Mets are paying $19 million of the $24 million owed to McCann over the next two seasons. Cruz, who hit .291 with a .745 OPS in 33 games last year, was part of Baltimore’s first international signing class in 2019 under Elias and senior director of international scouting Koby Perez. The next international signing period opens Sunday, with the Orioles reportedly set to give shortstop Luis Almeyda a bonus of more than $2 million, which would be a franchise record for a Latin American amateur.
The Athletic first reported the terms of the Orioles’ agreements with Santander, Mullins, Hays and Mateo. MASNSports.com was first to report that Hays and Mateo avoided arbitration. The Baltimore Banner first reported Tate’s deal.