Baltimore Orioles: After some uncertainty, O’s correctly commit to Jose Iglesias

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: Jose Iglesias #11 of the Baltimore Orioles at bat against the New York Mets at Citi Field on September 08, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 08: Jose Iglesias #11 of the Baltimore Orioles at bat against the New York Mets at Citi Field on September 08, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images) /

Jose Iglesias will be back with the Baltimore Orioles in 2021.

As the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up their 2020 campaign, their biggest immediate offseason decision, whether or not to pick up the option on Jose Iglesias‘ 2021 contract, seemed like a no-brainer.

With a hole at the shortstop position at the major league level and all of the team’s top middle infield prospects still a few years away from reaching the big leagues, the Orioles signed Jose Iglesias to a one-year deal worth $3 million with a $3.5 million option for 2021.

Viewed as a glove-first option with a limited bat, the Orioles didn’t need Iglesias to rack up the offensive stats in 2020. With a very young pitching staff set to lead the way and a few top pitching prospects expected to make their debuts this past season, having a reliable glove in the middle of the infield to help out an inexperienced pitching staff was where Iglesias’ value was supposed to lie.

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Luckily for the Orioles, Iglesias seemed to find something in his offensive game that woke up a normally below league-average bat. That was good news for Baltimore, considering a lingering hamstring issue kept Iglesias limited to a DH role or on the bench for a big chunk of the season.

He appeared in just 24 games at shortstop this season for the Baltimore Orioles.

But Iglesias made up for it with his bat. A finalist and worthy option for 2020 Most Valuable Oriole honors, Iglesias slashed .373/.400/.556 with three home runs and 17 doubles in 39 games. He posted a 160 wRC+ and was worth 1.6 Wins Above Replacement, matching his 2019 total.

Just hours before the November 1st deadline to exercise options for 2021, the Baltimore Orioles elected to pick up Iglesias’ option, keeping him in an Orioles uniform for at least another season.

Since the conclusion of the World Series, doubt began to creep in as to whether or not Mike Elias would commit $3.5 million to Iglesias in 2021. After letting go around 50 staff members recently and multiple reports highlighting the fact that Baltimore would once again enter the offseason looking to slash payroll, many wondered whether or not Iglesias would be back.

The recent waiver claim of former Chicago White Sox infielder and 2019 Gold Glove winner Yolmer Sanchez only added fuel to those doubts.

Fear no more, Orioles fans. Iglesias proved to be a leader in a young clubhouse this season and routinely showed the type of dedication every club wants to see out of their players. Running out routing groundballs while in obvious pain and being a mentor to younger players endeared him to fans, and an 11% strikeout rate doesn’t hurt either.

Despite popular opinion, the Orioles do have an impressive group of shortstop prospects in the system. Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Anthony Servideo, Terrin Vavra, and Darrell Hernaiz are all Top 30 prospects with promising futures, but the earliest anyone on this list cracks the major leagues will be 2022.

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The Baltimore Orioles have their shortstop for 2021 and keep what would have been a highly coveted target off the market. It was the right choice and gives Orioles fans yet another reason to watch what may be another tough season next year.