A realistic - maybe pessimistic - look at Orioles' free-agency plans - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Dan Connolly

A realistic — maybe pessimistic — look at Orioles’ free-agency plans

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Photo Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 free agent season is now upon us.

I know, because we’ve already had our first report that the Orioles have some interest in “fill-in-the-blank” free agent.

The over/under for the number of these particular reports/tweets involving the Orioles between now and mid-February is 122. Place your bets accordingly.

The first of the offseason comes courtesy MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, who Tweeted on Tuesday morning that the Orioles have interest in Ian Desmond as a corner outfielder.

It’s true. He’s right.

They also have interest in anyone who can effectively play corner outfield and put up a decent on-base percentage. That includes Josh Reddick and Jon Jay. Heck, you might as well throw in Yoenis Cespedes, Michael Saunders and, yes, Dexter Fowler and Jose Bautista.

The Orioles need at least one corner outfielder, even if they re-sign Mark Trumbo (who could slot more at DH). They need to diversify their lineup and they need to get some speed on the basepaths and better defenders on either side of Adam Jones, if possible. Adding a part-time DH is a consideration.

They have to find a stop-gap catcher to at least share time with Caleb Joseph if they don’t re-sign Matt Wieters. They also wouldn’t mind bolstering a strength and finding another solid reliever, maybe a veteran lefty as Donnie Hart insurance. And they are never, ever going to walk away from rotation help, even though they have six starters penciled in for 2017.

So, the Orioles are going to have some interest in just about every free agent, sans some infielders. Some interest and getting things done aren’t exactly married, though.

Basically, don’t expect the Orioles to make a splash in free agency the way they did last year when they re-signed Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and Wieters and added Yovani Gallardo, Hyun-Soo Kim and Pedro Alvarez.

I’d be surprised if they sign anyone that will get you excited about the club’s 2017 season. That excitement will have to come from the existing group.

Sorry for being the journalistic version of the old guy yelling at the kids to get off his lawn, but we deal in reality here at BaltimoreBaseball.com. If you want to dream about Cespedes or Desmond or somehow landing a legitimate ace, go ahead. That’s your call.

But the sense I get from everyone I’ve talked to is that the Orioles’ payroll is going to set a new franchise record this year – topping $150 million — just based on raises due to the existing players. Plus, they need to look at potential extensions, including one for No 1 starter Chris Tillman, a free agent next winter.

So, it’s a safe bet their budget is not going to grow exponentially through free agency.

Want more proof?

The fact the Orioles did not offer Wieters a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer screams poor to me. It would be really surprising if he accepted the offer two years in a row, so it seemed like a calculated gamble for a high draft pick.

But the Orioles chose not to risk it. And, since they don’t have a Plan B at starting catcher that they are thrilled with, the decision seemed to be more about the Orioles’ financial plan than Wieters’ production.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but when the dust settles, I expect the spending spree of last offseason to be the exception, not the rule.

What I anticipate is for the Orioles to land a few solid pieces to fill roles – maybe re-sign a Michael Bourn or a Steve Pearce – and then wait for someone (or several someones) to be overlooked as spring training nears. Then executive vice president Dan Duquette will swoop in and hope that he can maximize a player’s desire to make good on a one-year contract.

Sound familiar? It’s the new Oriole Way. And, to be fair, it’s helped the club get to the playoffs three times in the past five seasons under Duquette and manager Buck Showalter.

If you’d rather choose to follow the dreams and the random, vague reports, go ahead. I understand.

Just get off my lawn in the process.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 9, 2016 at 7:56 am

    Here are a few of my unwanted thoughts/questions regarding the outfield.

    Why look outside at all? We can’t afford anything worthwhile anyway!

    1. We’ve got to re-sign Bourne unless somebody else offers him a king’s ransom.
    2. Hopefully Joey Rickard can come back and show he wasn’t a flash in the pan.
    3. Why not give Flaherty some for AB’s out there?
    4. For 23+ million per year, is it out of the question Davis spends a few days shagging flies, while somebody like Mancini gets time at 1st?
    5. Is there any chance Yaz gets a shot at the show?
    6. I’ve never heard it talked about, so I doubt it, but does Mancini have the tools to play outfield?

    Might I add that all this reflection is done from the relative safety of your sidewalk. (my dog however, has been known to occasionally veer off course)

    • Dan Connolly

      November 9, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Booger: I could get about a week’s worth of blog entries out of your post, so let me stay on one point. The belief is Mancini is a first baseman. A solid one. But not an outfielder. Could he go there in a pinch? Maybe. Is he a solution there? No. Is Davis a solution in right? More than Mancini. But Buck and company are hesitant to weaken two positions by taking Davis off first — assuming there is some type of defensive upgrade coming in right. As for minor leagues such as Yaz, no one has made such a dent in the minors to force a spot up top besides Mancini.

    • JustWin8

      November 9, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      How about this – When Mancini is ready, he plays first base and Davis becomes the DH? Still don’t understand the Davis extension and a Trumbo re-signing is baffling. OF defense needs strengthening

  2. Bancells Moustache

    November 9, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I’m usually the pessimist type, but having read the newspaper this morning, I am convinced that anything is possible, so I’ll throw on the orange colored glasses, if only for fun.
    The Orioles are going all in in 2017. Let’s look at the tea leaves.
    -Its obvious that the aging core of this team, one of the more successful in Oriole history, has a 1 year window to win it all
    -The team came within a Zach Britton appearance of facing off with 2 teams they owned in the regular season for a World Series berth
    -They have 2 glistening trade chips in Machado and Britton to blow it up and rebuild, but the only way to trade those two without a full-on lynch mob at the Warehouse is to win it all beforehand
    – The current roster, while successful, committed the gravest of sins in the eyes of ownership: it failed to put the meat in the seats
    – Duquette might have a rebuild left in him, but I question if Showalter does. A fine career in baseball capped off by a Championship and then retiring might be more appealing than spending a few seasons in the wilderness
    -Most importantly, Peter Angelos does NOT have another rebuild in him. The man is 85 years old. This is his last shot at avoiding owning a team for 25 plus years and never winning it all, and Peter Angelos doesn’t like to lose, otherwise he wouldn’t have been the successful tort lawyer he became
    Damn the torpedoes, Dan! The Weiters move just freed up a few extra bucks that will be spent on other options, and you still have a solid pitching core and a HR hitter to sell replica jerseys when you sell it off after the Parade this time next year. Let’s make Baltimore Great again!
    (Please note, all of this is complete and utter nonsense done for purely entertainment purposes. We all know Travis Snider will probably pop up in right field next spring)

    • Dan Connolly

      November 9, 2016 at 10:34 am

      I like when I zig, you zag. My only thought here is that window doesn’t close until 2018. Only unrestricted free agent from true core w/o a possible 2018 contract is Tillman.

    • justmestac

      November 9, 2016 at 5:19 pm

      You sir, made me smile. Thanks 🙂

  3. justmestac

    November 9, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Can I have a seat on your lawn & rest for a bit if I agree? It’s been a long week & I am too tired to even dream right now. I am more of a reality kind of gal anyway.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 9, 2016 at 10:35 am

      You are always welcome.

  4. marcshank

    November 10, 2016 at 11:38 pm

    Weiters is the best catcher in the AL. He should come off his so-so season at the bat with at least a .280 average. No wonder they don’t want him. The trouble with the O’s is they don’t recognize talent when they have it and they don’t understand that pitching is 3/4 of the game.

    • John in Cincy

      November 12, 2016 at 6:23 am

      Wieters as Mauer with power mantra has dissolved in the ether years ago, so no, he’s not worth a qualifying offer & certainly isn’t the best catcher in the AL. No one seriously believes that anymore, do they? Better to start Sisco, so they can spend the money in more urgent areas.

      And “the O’s…don’t know talent when they have it”. Really? You cannot seriously believe that for a team that’s won more games than any other in the league since 2012.

      And them not understanding the importance of pitching? Please, I dare you tell Buck and Dan that to their faces. They’d politely, but firmly, tell you not to waste their time.

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