Baltimore Orioles: The Coin Toss on Alejandro De Aza


Oct 11, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Alejandro De Aza (12) can

The extent of the success of the 2014 Baltimore Orioles and the quality of the roster at the end of the season is evident when one considers the probable combined salaries of that roster for 2015. Though most Orioles fans would wish for the O’s to be able to bring the whole unit back – Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller, etc. – it simply is not possible.

As we step through this article today, I’ll break it down a bit further, but just think with me for a moment about what such a scenario would add up to in total dollars (millions) …

  • Guaranteed Salaries to date:  40.05
  • Pre-arbitration Salaries (est.):  15.00
  • Arbitration Eligible Players (est.): 56.90
  • Markakis, Cruz, Miller (est.): 38.00
  • Nick Hundley, Delmon Young (est.):  7.00
  • Rough Total:             $157 Million

Clearly, that sort of total is not going to happen. Taking out the final two names, and just signing Markakis without Cruz or Miller, would already put the total number at about the highest imaginable amount, if not beyond.

So where can any other money be freed to make free agent signings possible? It would seem to have to come from the arbitration eligible category.

Using MLBTR estimates, here are the four highest of the 11 players in this category: Chris Davis (11.8), Bud Norris (8.7), Matt Wieters (7.9) and Alejandro De Aza (5.9). Davis and Wieters are simply not going to be traded or non-tendered. The O’s love Bud Norris, and for good reason, but with six starters the argument could be made that he could free up some dollars in a trade.

But finally we are left with the name most thrown out as a non-tender candidate, and that is De Aza. The former White Sox player is a mixed bag of considerations and is a sort of toss up as to whether to keep or not.

HEADS – De Aza presents some values that the Orioles don’t have enough of, particularly speed at the top of the order. He played extremely well in his 20 games with the O’s, batting .293 and continuing his excellent play into the postseason. He is a versatile, plus defender with some pop in his bat.

TAILS – De Aza’s numbers with the Orioles were a good bit better than his career averages, which would put his batting average in the .260s.  And for all his speed, he is not actually a high-percentage base stealer. But the biggest negative is his salary for a player that might not actually be better than David Lough – who could be retained for about 10% of the total.

It would seem logical that the decision is ultimately tied inextricably to the Markakis situation. If the Orioles are, as expected, able to work out an extension there, De Aza is more expendable. But until that happens, the O’s would certainly be planning on holding open their options with De Aza.

The 11 arbitration eligible players and expected salaries are the largest total in all of baseball at an estimated $56.9 million. The only team even close to that number is the Washington Nationals at 52.6, followed by the Reds at 45.5 and the Tigers at 41.1.

Though the Baltimore Orioles are often seen as a team in the bottom portion of the league in salary expenditures, they were actually #15 in 2014 at 107.47.  Along with that, their guaranteed and arbitration eligible numbers put them in 12th place in looking toward 2015. A deal with Markakis would immediately move the O’s to #10 on that list.

Here are some basic stats for De Aza over the past three years, along with his career totals …

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