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The Orioles took the first step toward increasing their major league payroll this offseason, announcing they have tendered contracts to all six of their salary arbitration-eligible players ahead of Friday night’s deadline.

Outfielders Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays and Anthony Santander, as well as shortstop Jorge Mateo and right-handers Austin Voth and Dillon Tate, were tendered contracts, allowing the Orioles to negotiate a deal with them over the next two months or wait for an arbitration hearing.

The non-tender deadline forces organizations to decide whether a player with at least three — and no more than six — years of service time will be offered a contract for the upcoming season. Had the Orioles not tendered one of their players a contract, he would have become a free agent.

The Orioles and the six players’ representatives have until Jan. 13 to agree to a salary for the 2023 season or sign a multi-year deal. If they don’t, the sides will head to an independent arbitrator in February to have the salary figure decided.

Perhaps the only question entering Friday was Voth, who joined Baltimore midway through the 2022 season as a waiver claim having departed the Washington Nationals with a 10.13 ERA in 18 2/3 innings. The right-hander stepped into a starting role for much of his time with the Orioles, recording a 3.04 ERA in 83 innings. According to MLB Trade Rumors’ projections, Voth could be in line to make $2 million in arbitration.

Still, there isn’t a clear place for Voth in the rotation next season. Right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, the top pitching prospect in the sport, was added to the 40-man roster Tuesday to avoid the Rule 5 draft. Rodriguez and left-hander DL Hall, another highly ranked prospect who debuted last year, will push for a rotation role in spring training. Right-handers Tyler Wells, Kyle Bradish and Dean Kremer all impressed in 2022, and left-hander John Means is on track to return from Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery partway through 2023.

Plus, with the possibility of the Orioles making a splash in free agency for a front-line starting pitcher, the 30-year-old Voth has ample competition for a big league role in 2023.

Securing Hays, Mullins and Santander was more of a straight-forward decision for executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias, bringing back an outfield trio that combined to start 93% of Baltimore’s games. Mullins and Hays regressed at the plate in 2022, but Santander posted a career-high 33 home runs, making himself one of the preeminent switch-hitting power hitters in the league.

Santander, entering his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, is projected to make $7.5 million, according to MLB Trade Rumors. Hays could see a rise from $713,000 to a projected $3.1 million, and Mullins could see a jump from $716,500 to a projected $4.4 million.

After Mullins hit .291 with an .878 OPS and started the All-Star Game in center field in 2021, he batted .258 with a .721 OPS this past season. His defense remained exemplary, as he was named a Gold Glove Award finalist. Hays’ batting average dipped marginally, as he was unable to maintain a torrid pace at the plate; he hit .279 during his first 72 games before his average declined to .250.

Santander, Hays and Mullins are still expected to be large parts of Baltimore’s outfield going forward. However, tendering a contract doesn’t ensure a player will remain with the Orioles next season; the club could still explore a trade involving one or more of their arbitration-eligible players.

Tate, a nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, enters his first year of arbitration eligibility on the back of his most impressive season yet in the majors. The right-handed reliever, who often pitched in high-leverage situations, finished with a 3.05 ERA and five saves in 73 2/3 innings.

Mateo is in line for a new deal after impressing with his glove at shortstop, earning the Fielding Bible Award as the majors’ best defensive shortstop despite missing out on Gold Glove Award consideration. Mateo finished with 14 defensive runs saved, although he paired it with a .221 batting average.

MLB Trade Rumors projects Tate to earn $1.5 million in arbitration. Mateo, also in his first year of arbitration eligibility, could reach a projected $1.8 million. The arbitration process will feature negotiations between the players and the Orioles and, if required, the independent arbitrator will choose the proposed salary deemed most suitable.

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Latest Aaron Judge update proves Yankees offer wasnt good enough

The New York Yankees rightfully want to re-sign slugger Aaron Judge, but the latest update proves they’re going to have to do more to keep him.

The Yankees will possibly lose their star Aaron Judge this offseason as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required) shared that Judge’s contract will likely be for nine years. The exact offer the Yankees put out to Judge is unknown, but it was reportedly “in the neighborhood of eight years and $300 million.”

The San Francisco Giants have come ready to spend this offseason, and they made it very clear that if they miss out on signing Judge, it won’t be because of money. The Giants haven’t made an offer yet to Judge, but they’ve met with him and have a very real chance of landing him.

While it’s risky to make a long-term deal with Judge considering he’s 30 years old and most players begin to decline in performance through their 30s, it’s a risk many teams see as worth taking since he had such an explosive season in 2022.

If adding an extra year and a little bit of money to one-up the Yankees offer is what the Giants or any other team have to do to land him, then it’s not so bad of a plan and some team is very likely to do it. However, it’s unclear if the Yankees would bid back or not.

The Yankees may be out-bid from contract length

Offering Judge eight years is generous, and offering him nine years is pushing the envelope. It would be a stretch for any team to offer him 10 years as it would push him to 40 years old at the end, so it doesn’t seem like a likely move from the Yankees if a team bounces back with a nine-year offer.

This would certainly hurt the Yankees next season as they have a lot of room for improvement, and Judge was hands-down the most impactful player in the regular season. He was one of the best in the league as he led in many important statistical categories, including WAR (10.6), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686) and OPS (1.111), to name a few.

He was also in the Triple Crown conversation, one of the most prestigious achievements in baseball, and he broke the 61-year-old single season home run record with 62 homers this season.

Though it’s risky to sign him to a long-term contract, he appears to be good for quite a few more years and the Yankees just simply didn’t offer him what he could acquire.

Next: Bryan Reynolds rumors: 3 monster trade packages to make the Pirates budge

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