clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Orioles, the Cubs and Pedro Araujo: A curious non-transaction

New, 15 comments

The Cubs lost Araujo in the Rule 5 draft last year. Now, because of a possible Orioles misjudgment, they might get him back.

MLB: New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes, an MLB team will do something that makes perfect sense, even if it doesn’t work. For instance, if a team has a weakness on their roster, they may trade a prospect to fill the hole. The fill-in might be worse than expected, or the prospect may flourish. Or, perhaps, the squad deals international signing space for a relative non-entity prospect, doubting the will locate the next Ronald Acuna Jr. or Jose Altuve . However, on occasion, a move is made (or not made) that meanders well beyond the realms of “makes any sense.”

About a year ago, the Cubs had completed their Rule 5 eligibility moves. As they contemplated other available talent, others contemplated the Cubs selections. As the draft rolled around, the Baltimore Orioles selected Pedro Araujo. Coming off of a solid season in Advanced-A, Araujo seemed a valid gamble for an Orioles side that was facing some turbulence. The Birds decided to keep Araujo on their 25-man roster into April.

As somewhat expected, his “MLB quality” outings were less frequent than his “needs work” appearances needed to be. By early May, his ERA had climbed over 6.00 for good for the season. With that number at 7.71, Araujo was shifted to the Orioles Disabled List on June 11, when Zach Britton returned from injury.

As you likely remember, 2018’s baseball season began in March. The Orioles’ first game was on March 29. As such, Araujo had been on the 25-man roster for three days in March, 30 in April, 31 in May, and 10 in June. While he was required to be on the roster all of 2018 to remain Orioles property, if injuries limited his time, 90 days counted as “enough” to count as a full season.

Had he been on the Orioles 25-man roster 90 days in 2018, he could have been easily shuttled to the minor league last week. I doubt any of the other 29 sides would have burned a roster spot to retain Araujo, looking to try to “David Rollins” him through waivers to retain him. However, that would have required 90 days in Baltimore. Araujo only had 74 days under his belt.

Which leads to a non-roster move that made about no sense. Why didn’t the Orioles activate Araujo from the Disabled List, healthy or not, for the last two-and-a-half weeks? On target for a horrible season, “getting wins” wasn’t important. An American League team, they couldn’t have had that many days where they needed to use 35 or more players to survive a game. It seems beyond foolish to not “complete the cycle” for Araujo in September.

A possible realistic reason for not re-activating Araujo is: “Nobody thought of it.” If that’s the case, it’s as fierce an indictment of the Orioles tepid former front office as there’s been, recently. Retaining the talent you want to retain is a role for any front office. After all, they’d spent money (and a roster spot) to acquire the 6-3 right-hander from San Cristobal, Dominican Republic.

Another possibility could be a lack of interest in valuing him. This seems a rather stubborn reason to not add him to the roster. If the Orioles no longer wanted him around, they could have easily enough released him, or run him through waivers. Apparently, the new executives value him enough to want to keep him around. It’s really mystifying that he didn’t “accomplish 90.”

About the only thing that holds any water was that the former decision-makers were looking forward to getting the $50,000 back from the Cubs if Araujo were offered back. After all, $50,000 (from the Rule 5 Draft) is worth more than the $25,000 (from the waiver fee), had he completed the 90 days. Sometimes, front offices make mistakes. Sometimes, they make far too many.

***

The other pertinent question is, considering the fee to re-acquire Araujo is $50,000 (if made available after clearing waivers), should the Cubs bring him back? As it isn’t “our” money, and roster spots aren’t especially costly at the upper-minor league levels, would you want the Cubs to bring back Araujo at the cost of two waiver wire fees?

I really doubt the Orioles will retain Araujo for the first two-and-a-half weeks of the 2019 regular season. I doubt anyone else will, either. However, my opinion doesn’t matter. Araujo may, or may not, become a reasonably low-cost option for the Cubs at some point in the next five or six months. If returned and reclaimed, the Cubs can spot him anywhere.

If Araujo is offered back to the Cubs, should the acquisition be made?

He wasn’t especially ready in 2018 for the rigors of an MLB season. He wasn’t expected to be. He might never be. However, people develop on their time frame, not ours. Araujo could be a type who is never MLB-ready. Or he might be entirely useful in a season or three.

One final possible option is a possible trade. If Araujo is run through waivers, and he clears, the Cubs and Orioles could execute a transaction for the Orioles to retain Araujo. However, one wonders the slight barter amount that would apply to initiate the exchange. The Orioles wouldn’t offer MLB talent to account for “less than three weeks.” Nor would they likely offer a valid prospect.

If a trade were to be executed, my hunch would be that it would be for a player not yet to full-season ball. A probable low-end “pick three” sort of lottery ticket. In reality, I think the Cubs would welcome Araujo back, and even bring him to MLB camp. He’s probably about a 10 percent shot at recording important outs in a future MLB game. Which would seem worth the revenue of a reasonably sized parking area for one game from a Philles series.

What is your opinion? Why did the Orioles not get Araujo up to the 90-day mark? Is a reliever that still needs development, and may or may not be up to it, worth a $50,000 fee? Are you happy I’m talking about bringing back Araujo instead of grabbing at straws for a Rule 5 selection next month? Every acquisition tends to be a step “in the right direction” or the other way. Is Araujo worth bringing back? Or, is the $50,000 better spent on a waiver wire pluck, or a 17-year-old option from the Dominican?

Poll

If Araujo is offered back for $50,000, should the Cubs accept?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Yes
    (200 votes)
  • 8%
    No
    (43 votes)
  • 46%
    I don’t especially care
    (224 votes)
  • 3%
    Make a trade, instead
    (17 votes)
484 votes total Vote Now