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Orioles non-tender Joseph, Beckham at deadline

Posted on 30 November 2018 by Luke Jones

New Orioles general manager Mike Elias made his first significant major league roster decisions Friday by not offering contracts to catcher Caleb Joseph and infielder Tim Beckham.

All other players on the 40-man roster were tendered contracts for next season, a list that included the arbitration-eligible trio of starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, reliever Mychal Givens, and infielder Jonathan Villar.

Joseph and Beckham now become free agents allowed to sign with any of the 30 major league clubs.

A fan favorite and a member of the organization since being selected in the seventh round of the 2008 amateur draft, Joseph was one of the final holdovers from Baltimore’s last two playoff clubs in 2014 and 2016. The 32-year-old’s strength was his defense, routinely ranking in the top six or seven in the American League in pitch-framing metrics and accumulating 38 defensive runs saved from 2014-17. However, his defense slipped substantially last season, making him expendable as he batted only .219 with three home runs, 17 runs batted in, and a .575 on-base plus slugging percentage in 280 plate appearances.

Joseph was projected to make roughly $1.7 million in arbitration. The expected free-agent departures of Joseph and five-time All-Star center fielder Adam Jones leave first baseman Chris Davis as the only remaining member of the 2014 AL East champion Orioles.

Beckham, 28, was acquired from Tampa Bay at the 2017 non-waiver trade deadline and provided an immediate spark, batting .394 with 18 extra-base hits in his first month with the club. However, injuries and struggles at the plate and in the field plagued Beckham in 2018 as he batted only .230 with 12 homers and a .661 OPS in 402 plate appearances while making 19 errors split between third base and shortstop. He missed two months of action after undergoing core muscle surgery in late April.

The first overall pick of the 2008 amateur draft, Beckham was projected to make $4.3 million in arbitration, which made him an expensive option as a utility player on a rebuilding team.

Bundy is projected to make $3 million, Givens $2 million, and Villar $4.4 million in arbitration.

On Friday, the Orioles also parted ways with farm director Brian Graham, who had been serving as interim general manager after the departure of former executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette in early October and before Elias’ arrival. Director of scouting Gary Rajsich was also relieved of his duties earlier this week.

Those departures add to an extensive list of positions Elias needs to fill as he continues to search for Baltimore’s next manager to replace Buck Showalter, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the Orioles’ historically-poor 47-115 season.

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Orioles officially recall rookie catcher Austin Wynns

Posted on 05 June 2018 by Luke Jones

Those clamoring for a youth movement as the Orioles languish in last place will get their wish at one position at least.

Catcher Austin Wynns was officially recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Tuesday and will join fellow rookie backstop Chance Sisco on the 25-man roster as the Orioles begin a two-game road set against the New York Mets. The promotion was originally to take place Sunday if not for the postponement of the final game of the series against the New York Yankees. Catcher Andrew Susac was optioned to Norfolk after Saturday’s game, creating the open roster spot.

The 27-year-old Wynns will be making his major league debut and will wear No. 61. Long known for his defensive abilities, the 10th-round pick of the 2013 draft from Fresno State has shown respectable offense for the Tides this year. Wynns was batting .257 with four home runs, four doubles, 16 runs batted in, and a .718 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Wynns’ right-handed bat will likely platoon with the lefty-swinging Sisco, whom manager Buck Showalter has tried to protect against left-handed pitching this season. Sisco, 23, is hitting .210 with two homers, six doubles, 15 RBIs, and a .655 OPS in 117 plate appearances.

The catcher position has been a problem all season for the Orioles as Opening Day starter Caleb Joseph was optioned to the Tides last month after hitting just .182 in 80 plate appearances. Susac went 3-for-26 with 12 strikeouts in his stint with Baltimore.

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