The Orioles have been getting proper fielder Anthony Santander some follow at first base and will play him on the infield a minimum of sometimes down the stretch, supervisor Brandon Hyde instructed reporters this weekend (link via MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubtako). That shift could possibly be accompanied by different adjustments within the infield, which started yesterday with Rougned Odor shifting to 3rd base in deference to 25-year-old Terrin Vavra, who acquired his first massive league begin at second base.
Santander, 27, has by no means performed a Main League recreation at first base however did get some minor league work there a number of years in the past. He usually charges as an above-average defender in proper discipline, per each Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Common, though his rankings have slipped this season. With a number of younger outfielders rising via the system together with MLB-ready Kyle Stowers and fast-rising 2021 prime decide Colton Cowser, it’s of additional word that Santander might reacclimate to a different spot on the diamond. Austin Hays and Cedric Mullins are usually locked into outfield spots, so shifting Santander round definitely makes some sense.
In fact, even reasonably enhancing Santander’s defensive versatility may even probably make him a bit extra interesting on the offseason commerce market. The switch-hitting Santander drew some curiosity this summer time, as he’s accomplished for the previous couple seasons, however the O’s hung onto him and for now can proceed to take pleasure in his .255/.334/.452 output. Santander is on tempo to set new career-highs in plate appearances, dwelling runs and doubles this season, supplied he stays wholesome down the stretch. He’s additionally trimmed his strikeout price from 23.1% final season to 18.6% this season and upped his stroll price from 5.3% to a career-best 8.2%.
Santander is incomes $3.15MM this season and stays underneath membership management via the 2024 marketing campaign by way of arbitration. He’s already been via that course of twice as a Tremendous Two participant and might be due one other pair of raises earlier than hitting the open market simply after his thirtieth birthday within the 2024-25 offseason.
As for the transfer of Odor to the new nook, it’s solely smart to get as lengthy a glance as Vavra as potential down the stretch in 2022. Second base is Vavra’s major (and greatest) place, and after he hit .312/.425/.444 via 229 minor league plate appearances this season (largely in Triple-A), he seems prepared for a glance within the massive leagues. Nevertheless, the O’s even have fellow infield prospect Jordan Westburg knocking on the door of the large leagues, if not late in 2022 then seemingly early within the 2023 season. Westburg, who landed 98th on Baseball America’s newest prime 100 rankings, has posted a mixed .255/.332/.470 slash between Double-A and Triple-A this season. He’s seen his stroll price minimize in half leaping from Double-A to Triple-A and maybe has some strikeout points to kind via (26.1% this yr), however given his normal proximity to the large leagues, taking a proactive take a look at Vavra is smart.
It appears honest to query simply how for much longer the veteran Odor will issue into the plans in any respect, on condition that the longtime Rangers infielder has posted only a .193/.257/.365 batting line in 331 plate appearances this yr. The lefty-swinging Odor has really posted worse outcomes towards right-handers than towards southpaws and turned in below-average defensive grades at second base (-5 DRS, -2.9 UZR, -5 OAA).
From a broader perspective, veterans of the Odor ilk could have a harder time discovering alternative in Baltimore in any respect earlier than too lengthy. Regardless of graduating former No. 1 general prospect Adley Rutschman to the Main League roster, the O’s nonetheless have baseball’s greatest all-round farm system, ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel opined in today’s updated rankings of the sport’s 30 minor league techniques. A few of that is because of one other No. 1 general decide being added to the system this season, but it surely’s additionally due largely to the rise of shortstop prospect Gunnar Henderson, whom Baseball America tabs as its new No. 1 general farmhand in one other just-released set of rankings.
Henderson, like Westburg, has cut up the 2022 season between Double-A and Triple-A, slashing at a mixed .304/.429/.556 clip with 17 dwelling runs, 20 doubles, six triples, 16 steals (in 19 tries), an enormous 16.7% stroll price and a 20.8% strikeout price. With 205 Triple-A plate appearances already underneath his belt, it’s a minimum of possible that he may be an choice late within the season — and, if not, then definitely early in 2023. Nevertheless issues pan out within the short-term, the looming presence of Henderson, Westburg, Vavra and others figures to immediately impression Odor, Ramon Urias, Jorge Mateo and different infield choices earlier than too lengthy.