For a fan base that has been hungry for a breakout from modest offseason moves and a moderate increase in spending, this week may not deliver a respite. But the Friday deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures for the 2023 season will see the team’s payroll go up, even if it’s not through flashy player acquisitions.

About a third of the Orioles’ projected payroll in 2023 will come from the raises allotted to their six arbitration-eligible players, with outfielder Anthony Santander expected to receive the largest boost of the group.

The arbitration period is a natural part of the process for a young group finally becoming major league regulars — to be eligible, a player generally must have at least three years and no more than six years of service time. The group this offseason includes Santander for the third of four years, right-hander Austin Voth and first-time candidates Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Jorge Mateo and Dillon Tate.

The projected year-over-year increase in salary for just those players is about 209% — from $6,577,460 to $20,300,000, according to a projection from MLB Trade Rumors. That would put the finishing touches on a moderate offseason of spending for Baltimore, which included $23.5 million in free agency (right-hander Kyle Gibson, infielder Adam Frazier, reliever Mychal Givens) and a trade for catcher James McCann.

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Those additions are offset in part by the midseason departures of Trey Mancini and Jorge López, as well as free agent departures for Jordan Lyles, Robinson Chirinos, Brett Phillips, Rougned Odor and others.

In all, it vaults the Orioles’ payroll by about 44%, from roughly $45 million to a projected $64.5 million.

That still ranks 29th in the majors, however, a sign of the gap between what Baltimore is choosing to spend — or is capable of spending — on the back of its first winning season since 2016.

At any point this offseason, the Orioles can find agreements with their six arbitration-eligible players, although they’ve yet to make strides beyond tendering contracts to each of them in November. The only variation with Friday is it requires both parties to share their 2023 salary figures, and if they don’t agree, they would head to an arbitrator in the coming months.

Typically, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias has utilized the “file-and-trial” approach, meaning if the two parties don’t agree to a deal by Friday, the Orioles would wait for the arbitration hearing to decide which value a player would receive in 2023.

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On the back of a season in which Santander clubbed 33 homers — the most for a switch-hitter — the outfielder is projected to earn a salary of $7.5 million in 2023. It would be a jump from the $3.15 million Santander agreed to before the arbitration deadline last year.

The starting outfield for Baltimore will see rates rise for Mullins and Hays, too. Mullins, a 2021 All-Star selection who regressed somewhat last season, could see his salary of $716,500 leap to around $4.4 million; Hays could go from $713,000 to $3.1 million.

Mateo, whose main value comes from his defensive ability at shortstop, is in line to make around $1.8 million. Voth could go from a waiver claim last season to a starting rotation option making around $2 million. And Tate, one of the Orioles’ most consistent relievers, could receive around $1.5 million.

Elias has only given out one guaranteed deal longer than one year, covering left-hander John Means’ arbitration process with a two-deal as he underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. There’s always an outside possibility the Orioles will decide to secure a key player for the long term, such as Santander or Mullins. But each is under team control through at least 2024, and the arbitration process gives Elias the option to non-tender a player whose production falls off.

At the end of last season, Elias spoke of making “significant investments in the major league payroll.”

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The reality could be seen as falling short of that mark.

The arbitration raises play a major role in expanding payroll, but those are a guarantee each offseason as players gain more experience (next year, Ryan Mountcastle, Ramón Urías and Tyler Wells will be arbitration eligible). The Orioles will still pay a chunk each year through 2037 to retired first baseman Chris Davis. And the addition of three free agents and a backup catcher via trade appear to round out the majority of Baltimore’s offseason.

It’s a start. But more will be expected in subsequent offseasons.

Promotion schedule release

Last season, after one of the more electric atmospheres felt at Camden Yards during his tenure, manager Brandon Hyde shared his view: “We need more floppy hat nights.”

He’ll get his wish.

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The Orioles released their 2023 promotion schedule Tuesday, and it features the anticipated combination of a floppy hat giveaway June 30 and a Hawaiian shirt day July 1. There will also be bobbleheads for Félix Bautista, Adley Rutschman, Ryan Mountcastle and Eddie Murray.

The full schedule can be seen here.

The Orioles also brought back the Birdland Caravan for the first time in three years. Fans in the area will have opportunities between Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 to meet current players and members of management at events, including one at the new Baltimore Topgolf location. That one, as well as a bowling event at Bowlero in College Park, will require a ticket. Others are free to the public.

Among those available to meet fans will be Hyde, Elias, Rutschman, right-hander Grayson Rodriguez, Bautista, left-hander DL Hall, Hays and more. The full details are available here.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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