Tap-In Question: Which roster hole must O's fill through free agency? - BaltimoreBaseball.com

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Tap-In Question: Which roster hole must O’s fill through free agency?

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Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

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We’ve officially reached the week before baseball’s winter meetings. That doesn’t mean much, I suppose, except that most of the movement during the sport’s offseason will occur within the next month.

Usually this week there is a little action – and then it really heats up next week when the industry meets in National Harbor, Maryland (near Washington, DC) between next Monday and Thursday.

One thing I know for sure about the Orioles next week: They will take someone in the Rule 5 draft. They’ve done it every year under executive vice president Dan Duquette, and several of those finds have remained in the organization (such as Ryan Flaherty, Joey Rickard, T.J. McFarland, Jason Garcia).

If I’m a betting man, I’d say the only move the Orioles make next week will be a Rule 5 pickup. I just don’t see the club making a free-agent splash. And recent history tells us that Duquette and Company usually wait for free-agent prices to drop into January (and February) before they fill out their roster with recognizable names.

Adding non-recognizable names is a practice the Orioles will indulge in throughout the offseason (and regular season). We all know that.

We’re going to look at some specific free-agent targets this week at BaltimoreBaseball.com. But, in the Tap Room today, I wanted to look at generalities one more time.

I want to know what you think is the biggest priority for the Orioles in the free-agent market.

The easy answer is starting pitching, but the Orioles have six starters on the roster and the free-agent market is exceptionally weak. So, though the club needs an ace, they aren’t getting one via free agency this winter. So, I’m kind of punting that one (and Duquette likely is, too).

To me, the top priority has to be an everyday right fielder that can play good defense, get on-base at a solid clip and maybe steal some bases. Easier said than done, of course, but that’s my thought.

You also could throw in a designated hitter and a starting catcher as legitimate needs. And we shouldn’t dismiss another solid reliever to strengthen a strength. But maybe those can be best filled from inside the organization (Trey Mancini might be able to serve as the primary DH, for instance).

Let’s not delve into extending contracts, like Chris Tillman’s or Manny Machado’s or Zach Britton’s, today. Those need to be visited or re-visited, but they don’t address filling roster holes now.

So, as we prepare for the winter meetings, give me your priority list once again. And let me know if it has changed at all in the last month or so.

Tap-In Question: Which roster hole must the Orioles fill through free agency this winter?

12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    November 28, 2016 at 9:58 am

    1st off, I dont’ think they MUST fill any hole. But for the sake of the Tap In

    My number one priority is catcher. That is of course, assuming Wieters is history. (breaks my heart) But who and at what cost is the question. I know that Nick Hundley has been talked about. My guess is the O’s will stand pat on that hand.
    So what will they do free-agency-wise?

    OUTFIELD is the obvious position of need as our leader Mr. Connolly points out. (again, assuming they don’t dole the $ to Trumbo) I DO however have many reservations about the wisdom of doing anything noteworthy here.

    If they must, they need to do it on the very-cheap, as would be expected. Frankly I’d prefer they stay in-house by resigning Bourne. He seemed to be exactly the type of player we lacked and hopefully he won’t command a huge salary or more than a couple of years.

    I’d like them to try and fill the hole with what they have. As the team is structured now, I’d assume that a platoon of Kim & Rickard is coming. That is also assuming that they don’t send Rickard back down … which wouldn’t surprise me in the least. So what do the currently have?

    Dariel Alverez is still on the 40 man roster? That’s puzzling to me. Does this mean he’s going to get a real shot at making the team this year? And why don’t they give more ABs to Flaherty in the outfield? I still believe Ryan could hit if given more regular appearances. And Yaz & Christian Walker? They left them both unprotected. I’m thinking it’s time for one if not both of them get a shot at the bigs. I’d go with Jones, Kim, Rickard and Bourne being spelled by some combination of Flaherty, Alvarez and Yaz/Walker. And let’s also not forget that Davis isn’t a bum out in the grass either. Buck can shuffle as needed.

    So long story short …
    1. Catcher
    2. Outfield (if they MUST)
    3. Relief Pitcher would be nice as I believe a starter is out of the question as well as unnecessary.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 28, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Good points all. Really intriguing to see if Alvarez gets more of a shot. I’m not convinced he’s a big leaguer. But we’ll see. As for Walker, he is on the 40-man. And Yaz would be a real reach to play in the majors all year in 2017 from what I’ve been told — still has work to do in minors — so it’s doubtful he’d be snagged in the Rule 5.

  2. Eldersburg Enigma

    November 28, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Boog is correct….catcher and right field. But none of those moves matter if they don’t take steps to fortify a pathetic bench. Buck continues to run the regulars into the ground. Let’s give him a big league bench and see how that improves the offense.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Yeah, the bench needs an upgrade. No doubt.

  3. Steve Cockey

    November 28, 2016 at 10:30 am

    For me, it’s OBP, regardless of position. We’ve heard Duquette talk about the need for more ‘on-base capability’ countless times over the years, but the hitters he ends up acquiring rarely end up having that skill set (Trumbo, Alvarez, Young, etc.). The O’s have finished in the top 3 in the AL in homers in each of the last 5 years, yet they’ve only been top 5 or better in runs scored once. This offense needs to diversify.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 28, 2016 at 10:43 am

      Preaching to the choir here. Maybe we need to start a business together.

      • Steve Cockey

        November 28, 2016 at 11:25 am

        I’m in.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        November 28, 2016 at 12:50 pm

        I long ago canceled my subscription to the Sun. (but is was after Dan stopped writing for them)

  4. terp80

    November 28, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I’d prioritize a RFer. I’d like to see the O’s make a run at Carlos Gomez. I think Sisco and Joseph can hold down C.

    • Dan Connolly

      November 29, 2016 at 12:20 am

      I still think Sisco needs close to a full year in AAA to develop his defense. He had just 4 games there in 2016

  5. ZantiGM

    November 29, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    FA Adds
    C
    RF
    U-INF
    BP
    Trades
    DH
    SP

  6. bigdaddydk

    December 2, 2016 at 8:15 am

    Figuring that starting pitching is a bit scarce in this FA market, and the O’s don’t have a substantial enough collection of prospects to make a move for Chris Sale (that much needed LHP that won’t blow up the staff ERA — I’m looking at you Miley), I’m inclined to say that RF needs to be a priority, followed by DH. The infield is pretty well set, although I wouldn’t mind seeing Flaherty brought back as a utility guy.

    There are a handful of RF options, more if players are willing to shift around in the OF a bit. They could make a move for Curtis Grandserson, and the Mets need BP help (Mychal Givens might be a fair swap.) Not sure if they can muster enough to make a play for McCutchen from Pittsburgh, and I’d imagine he wants to remain in CF. Will AJ move to a corner? I like Granderson as a pickup, even though he’s heading into his age 36 season. He has some pop in his bat, and a lefthanded hitter like him should thrive in OPACY. McCutchen’s career slash line of .292/.381/.487 would be nice to add, particularly as a potential leadoff hitter who can take a BB on occasion. I’d like to see Kim batting behind him to set up Manny, Crush, Jones, and Schoop for driving in runs.

    Dumpster Dan has already missed out on Jon Jay and Matt Joyce as potential hole-fillers and appears destined to either ride this season out with a LF platoon of Kim and Rickard or an OF of Rickard, Jones, and Kim. I don’t expect Angelos to pony up enough to attract McCutchen, but he’d really solidify the lineup. Instead, I expect to hear about some last minute seasoned MLB journeyman has been acquired and will now be a somewhat mismatched RF hole filler. Either that, or there will be an offer for Chris Carter to come in, hit 50 HRs, bat in the low .200s, and strike out 200 times, as if there isn’t already someone capable of hitting solo HRs and killing rallies already on the roster.

    So, being realistic on what can be addressed in the off-season, here are the priorities as I see them:

    RF
    DH (could be initially addressed with Mancini if the O’s want him to get some ABs in the bigs, and he can mash lefties)
    Bench depth
    SP

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