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Jacob Calvin Meyer: John Angelos and the Orioles should follow their 'example' and, like Brewers, extend a young star

Jacob Calvin Meyer, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The last time Baltimore-area media had the opportunity to ask Orioles CEO and Chairman John Angelos about the club’s low payroll, he named the Milwaukee Brewers as an organization to compare with Baltimore.

“I’m simply using Milwaukee as a good example of a market that’s similar to Baltimore, in the shadow of a much bigger market, Chicago versus D.C.,” Angelos said in February when attempting to clarify an earlier answer. “Milwaukee has been successful, good owners there, good baseball people there, and they’ve been at a certain payroll.”

Milwaukee proved the latter point on the first day of the MLB winter meetings Monday, signing 19-year-old prospect Jackson Chourio to an unprecedented long-term contract. The eight-year, $82 million deal is the largest handed out to a player who has yet to make his MLB debut.

Long-term extensions for young stars are hard to negotiate given the risk to both parties, but they’ve become more commonplace in recent years. Teams in both big and small markets have signed youngsters to significant extensions in recent years, including the Atlanta Braves, Seattle Mariners, Arizona Diamondbacks and, now, the Brewers.

The Orioles, like those teams, have several youngsters worth extending. Adley Rutschman is the best catcher in the American League. Gunnar Henderson just finished a campaign in which he was unanimously voted AL Rookie of the Year. And Jackson Holliday, who turned 20 on Monday, is the sport’s consensus No. 1 prospect.

Angelos shouldn’t just invoke Milwaukee when attempting to justify Baltimore’s low payroll. He and the Orioles should follow the Brewers’ example and extend one of their young stars.

 

For Angelos, that might not be in the cards. In August, he told The New York Times that for the Orioles to afford handing out a lucrative contract, the franchise would have to raise prices on fans.

“Let’s say we sat down and showed you the financials for the Orioles,” Angelos told The Times. “You will quickly see that when people talk about giving this player $200 million, that player $150 million, we would be so financially underwater that you’d have to raise the prices massively.”

It’s difficult to fact-check Angelos’ claims about the Orioles’ financials, especially since he’s refused to follow through on multiple offers to show the club’s books to the media. But his comments to The Times raise questions about whether it’s a priority — or even of interest at all — to extend the club’s young stars.

Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said Monday at the winter meetings that judging long-term extensions for pre-arbitration-eligible players comes on a “case-by-case” basis.

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