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The DeMatha Stagline

The DeMatha Stagline

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April 15, 2024

Angelos family sells Orioles, trade for Corbin Burnes follows

David+Rubenstein+led+the+group+that+purchased+the+Baltimore+Orioles+in+late+January.
David Rubenstein led the group that purchased the Baltimore Orioles in late January.

On January 30, after owning the Orioles since 1993, the Angelos family reportedly sold the club to a group led by David Rubenstein for $1.725 billion. Rubenstein is a co-founder and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment company, which is the biggest of many ways that he has amassed his wealth.

A Baltimore native, Rubenstein has been interested in buying sports teams in the area, most notably expressing interest in the Washington Nationals after they were reportedly put up for sale in April of 2022. Legendary Orioles shortstop and holder of an MLB record of 2,632 consecutive games played, Cal Ripken Jr., is also a part of the new ownership group.

 

The Orioles didn’t enjoy much success under the ownership of the Angelos family, only making it to the playoffs six times and winning three American League East titles in 31 seasons. The family received massive criticism under the control of Peter Angelos, now 94 years old, and his son John Angelos, who took control of almost all duties in recent years.

The only time the Angelos family dished out more than $100 million for a player was for first baseman Chris Davis, who signed for seven years and $161 million. But that contract was a disaster. Davis only played five years of the contract, and only hit over 20 homers once, and never had a batting average over .225.

More successful Orioles players in the 2010s, such as Manny Machado, were traded away instead of being retained. Machado received a ten-year, $300 million deal in San Diego, which was almost certainly out of Baltimore’s price range, which brought criticism from the fans. Peter Angelos received backlash in early 2023 after saying, “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.”

This wasn’t what a fanbase wanted to hear when it was finally enjoying future stars for the first time in years. Catcher Adley Rutchsman was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft and won AL rookie of the year in 2022, making it likely that he would demand a contract of over $200 million once he hits the free agent market. The same can be said for Gunnar Henderson, Baltimore’s young third baseman who followed Rutchsman up by winning the 2023 rookie of the year. Baltimore’s 2022 first overall pick, shortstop Jackson Holliday, is the top prospect in the entire MLB Pipeline, and 2018 first round pick, pitcher Grayson Rodriguez, looks like the future of the Orioles pitching rotation. These players headline the top young core in baseball, and some don’t contribute to the farm system ranking anymore, which is the top in the entire league. A committed owner will be needed to keep this group together when they all hit the free agent market.

To get to this position with so much young talent, the Orioles endured their worst four-year stretch in franchise history from 2018 to 2021, where they lost at least 108 games in the three full seasons played in that span. Covid cut the 2020 season to 60 games.

From 2019 to 2022, the club never selected lower than the 5th overall pick. The 2018 trade deadline was painful for fans, who watched the Orioles send their franchise player, Manny Machado, to the Dodgers. Their closer, Zack Britton, who won 2016 reliever of the year, was traded to the rival Yankees. Kevin Gausman, who was hyped as a top homegrown pitching prospect, and long time reliever Darren O’Day, were shipped to Atlanta. Their second baseman for multiple playoff seasons, Jonathan Schoop, was traded to the Brewers. Following the season, Baltimore hired Mike Elias to be their new GM, hoping that his strong mind for analytics and player development would take them back to the top.

 As a result of impressive drafting and player development from Elias and his staff, the Orioles enjoyed a 31-game improvement from 2021 to 2022, where they went from 52-110, worst in the major leagues, to 83-79, only three games short of the playoffs. In 2023, Baltimore had their big breakthrough, winning 101 games along with their first AL East title since 2014, and earning the first seed in the American League. Anthony Santander, an Orioles outfielder who played through the toughest years of the rebuild, said, “it’s worth it. Those tough moments – we lived through them.” Things didn’t look as pretty in the postseason, where Baltimore was swept in the ALDS by the Texas Rangers, the eventual World Series champions. The mission was different for GM Mike Elias; he now had to turn a playoff team into a championship caliber team, instead of a rebuilding team into a playoff team.

The majority of fans are in agreement that with this young core in the major leagues and the extremely strong state of the farm system, the sky is the limit for the Orioles. Coming into the offseason, many Baltimore fans agreed that the club needed pitching. The 2022 pitching rotation wasn’t bad by any means, headlined by young right handers Kyle Bradish, a 2022 rookie, and Grayson Rodriguez, a 2023 rookie. The Orioles had a selection of high end pitching to choose from on the free agent market this offseason, but the club was quiet, watching many pitchers sign elsewhere, likely due to the exploration of the sale of the franchise. The only notable pitching transaction this offseason for the Orioles before the sale was reliever Craig Kimbrel, who signed for one year and $12 million. Even immediately after the Rubenstein sale, no fans had a reason to believe that there would be a major transaction before the conclusion of the offseason.

On February 1, only one day after Rubenstein purchased the club, the Orioles acquired Corbin Burnes, the 2021 NL Cy Young winner, from the Milwaukee Brewers. Baltimore gave up young left handed pitcher DL Hall and shortstop Joey Ortiz, both solid prospects, but neither of them are major losses. With a true ace, Baltimore may be the favorite to represent the American League in the 2024 World Series, and will certainly be the favorites to win the AL East.

As the Boston Herald’s Mac Cerullo puts it, the Orioles will be “bad news” for the rest of their division. Burnes is set to hit the free agent market after the season, suggesting an extension during the season or bringing him back during next offseason could be Baltimore’s first big contract under Rubenstein’s ownership. It should be an exciting next era for Orioles baseball.

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    harryt mitchellFeb 27, 2024 at 4:50 pm

    Looking forward to new ownership. I think they will step up on resigning young stars. Sure hope so.

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