Maybe the new Orioles’ owner will extend their exciting young players

The Orioles promoted another top prospect, which is as good a time as any to wonder if things will be different now.

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Happy Jackson Holliday… day. The son of Matt Holliday is also the top prospect in the Orioles system, and, an even bigger deal, also the minors just in general. The when of the call-up is a bit weird, since the O’s didn’t let him start the season in the majors but he’s still been promoted early enough that he’s eligible for the “don’t manipulate service time” prize at the end of the season, but hey. He’s here now. Neat.

So, it’s a good time to remind everyone of what John Angelos, the previous principal owner of the Orioles, thought about extending their young players so that their competitive window could stay open for longer, even if it cost more than when these guys are all league-minimum or close to it players:

Angelos wasn’t just stretching economic theory with some of his responses, but seemingly coming up with an entirely different way of looking at economics — and not a correct way, either, just one he felt furthered his argument for the importance of the Orioles to Baltimore, i.e. the reason that he should be able to get what he wants from the city and state in order to receive $600 million earmarked for ballpark improvements. Angelos wants more than “just” over half-a-billion in public funds he doesn’t have to pay back so long as they’re used to improve Camden Yards: he also wants to build a mini real-estate empire around the ballpark, in land that is unavailable to him, that he also wants to receive for free. That way, the Orioles can, from his point of view, finally make the money they need in order to maybe retain some of their current exciting young core well into the future, or bring in the pieces that will help them compete more in the present.

The Orioles already make a profit, and said profit is only going to rise the more watchable and successful they are. The profit is at its highest point, though, if they can get by without investing any more money into the team than they have to in order to be competitive, so that’s the way they operate.

The O’s did end up getting all that money from the state of Maryland, at least, which in turn let Angelos sell the club to new owner, David Rubenstein, who does not own the entirety of the team yet, but eventually will now that Peter Angelos has passed, freeing his family from having to pay capital gains tax on a sale of the club. The point is that Angelos’ theory of how things need to go isn’t necessarily Rubenstein’s. We don’t actually know what the latter’s is, given all we’ve got so far are some brief answers to questions that all boil down to, “Go Orioles!” but we’ll see evidence of it all soon enough.

And it’s going to be change from ownership that’s required, as general manager Mike Elias followed Angelos’ orders to never spend about as rigidly as was possible. It was clear last trade deadline that the Orioles needed to do more, giving up some prospects or spending some money in order to improve a team that would likely need help in the postseason, and they paid for not doing that with an early exit. They spent the first half of the offseason not doing all that much, either, but eventually made a significant add in Corbin Burnes: there’s more to do, of course, but adding Burnes and Holliday isn’t a pair of moves to be discounted.

What’s truly needed, though, is for the O’s to begin to commit to the young players that have made them as exciting a club to watch as they are. And maybe Rubenstein can give Elias the marching orders to do just that. I don’t mean to alarm you, but the O’s are already in year three of Adley Rutschman, with his arbitration eligibility beginning next offseason. Retaining players like him with long-term extensions is what will separate the O’s from a club like the Rays, which, sure, they’re pretty much always competitive, but they also have never won a World Series, and have plenty of early exits of their own from the postseason.

The Orioles shouldn’t want to be the Rays, which is what the John Angelos-run team aimed for. They should want to be the Orioles: a team with plenty of resources to spend, and a willingness to spend them. Except, unlike under Peter Angelos’ rule, this Orioles club has a front office that can actually build a winner here thanks to their eye for talent and ability to produce quality prospects. Combine the spending of Peter Angelos’ time with the player development of his son’s run in town, and Rubenstein could ensure that something special comes Baltimore’s way.

Whether that’s the direction the Orioles go in under their new owner remains to be seen, but it’s the obvious correct path. There is not a single Orioles’ player who was alive the last time the team won the World Series, back in 1983. Hell, Craig Kimbrel is the oldest player on the roster, and he was born four-and-a-half years after that championship. Jackson Holliday was born 20 years later! His dad was all of three years old when the O’s last won a title, and Matt’s already had a 15-year run in the majors and now a kid who’s debuting there. This is an organization that should be doing everything they can to improve their chances of winning it all. Hopefully they finally have an owner up to that task.

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