The Orioles have decided not to tender 2019 contracts to infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph, the team announced at Friday night’s deadline to issue deals to arbitration-eligible players.
All other players on the 40-man roster, including infielder Jonathan Villar, starter Dylan Bundy and reliever Mychal Givens, were tendered contracts for next season.
Beckham, who was acquired at the 2017 nonwaiver trade deadline for minor league pitcher Tobias Myers, was a comet in his first month with the Orioles. He hit .394 with a 1.062 OPS and 18 extra-base hits in August 2017, but hit .180 the rest of that season. He hit .230 with a .661 OPS this past season and failed to hold down either the third base or shortstop jobs on either side of a groin injury that required core muscle surgery.
A former No. 1 overall draft pick of the Tampa Bay Rays, Beckham represented the Orioles' last significant trade acquisition under former executive vice president Dan Duquette. Beckham was a spark in place of injured shortstop J.J. Hardy at the time, but now represents one of the biggest changes made so far under new executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias. Beckham, 28, was projected to make $4.3 million in arbitration by MLB Trade Rumors.
Joseph's departure chips away at the remnants of the Orioles' most recent playoff team from 2016. As a Super Two-eligible player who earned an extra year of salary arbitration, Joseph was set for his third year of arbitration, which has brought about somewhat modest raises.
He first hit arbitration after the 2016 season in which he didn't drive in a run or hit a home run, but rebounded in 2017. His 2018 numbers — a .219 average with three home runs and a .575 OPS — reflect a player who struggled with a lack of opportunities and spent time in the minors.
Joseph, 32, was projected to make $1.7 million in arbitration. He was a 2008 seventh-round pick of the Orioles and has played 402 major league games with the club since 2014.
The Orioles are able to continue negotiations with both nontendered players, but so is every team now that they’re on the free-agent market.
The case for keeping either was simple — the contracts aren't guaranteed, and the Orioles would only be on the hook for 30 days salary if they released an arbitration-eligible player on or before the 16th day of spring training, and 45 days salary after that — the latter being equivalent to one-quarter of their salary.
The Orioles used such methods by going through the arbitration process with and ultimately cutting right-hander Miguel González in spring training in 2016.
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The other players who were tendered contracts — Villar, Bundy and Givens — required little debate. Villar, projected to make $4.4 million, hit .258 with 21 steals in an impactful first few months with the Orioles. Bundy, projected at $3 million, is their most promising young pitcher at the major league level, even if 2018 was uneven. Givens is the Orioles’ most experienced and reliable reliever, with a projected $2 million salary. (All projections via MLB Trade Rumors.)