Tap-In Question: Should acquiring a right fielder be a priority (or is it pitching only)? - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Tap-In Question: Should acquiring a right fielder be a priority (or is it pitching only)?

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Tap Room seems to be rather gleeful. That other Baltimore team – those hard-to-figure-out Ravens — looks like it is heading toward the playoffs. Even if the Ravens are flawed, the playoffs are always an exciting time, and the NFL postseason can be a crapshoot.

So, I’ll put some purple food-coloring in your brew today. I can hold off until the NFL regular season ends, if you prefer. I know jinxes aren’t appreciated around here.

For the baseball fans, we’re now one week before the sport’s annual winter meetings are held; this year the meetings will be at the Swan and Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. I’ll be there, trying to swim (appropriate aquatic verb) through the rumors and attempting to bring you some insight into the 2018 Orioles.

The hot stove has been pretty dormant so far, but expect it to heat up a little this week and be at full force next week.

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Obviously, it’s mostly about starting pitching for these Orioles. Whether it is through trades or free-agent signings, they must acquire three new members of the rotation in the coming months.

We all know that.

But the offense isn’t perfect, either. The club could use a decent right fielder who can hit from the left side to, at the least, platoon with some of the right-handed outfielders on the roster.

When I write about that – or talk to Orioles fans – it seems like the response is uniform: Pitching is not only the main priority; fans really don’t want the Orioles spending on anything until the rotation picture is figured out.

Seems a little short-sighted to me. The Orioles have six outfielders on their 40-man roster (not including designated hitter Mark Trumbo), but only Adam Jones and Trey Mancini are guaranteed Opening Day spots. And the group is severely right-handed with the exception of switch-hitter Anthony Santander, a Rule 5 player, and newly acquired Jaycob Brugman.

Rookie Austin Hays may be the everyday starter soon enough, but should that determination be made heading into April?

I was curious what the fans think about this one, so I brought it to you on a Monday morning when you’re all fresh and ready to build a 25-man roster.

Tap-In Question: Should acquiring a starting right fielder be a priority for the Orioles?

37 Comments

37 Comments

  1. Creatively_19

    December 4, 2017 at 7:28 am

    I’m of the opinion that not only is the rotation a priority, it’s the only priority. In the AL East, it’s almost always pitching that wins games. The top of our lineup should carry our offense and let Santander and Hayes fight for that starting role. Until we get at least two more starters secured, there is little point on focusing on anything else.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 8:45 am

      19: to me, that’s a slightly surprising take. But I think that’s also the popular take. Spend the money on pitching.

      • boss61

        December 4, 2017 at 2:33 pm

        I’m with 19. Like Jan Brady famously whined: “Pitching! Pitching! Pitching!”

        We have adequate options for right field (Hays, Santander, new guy from Seattle, Joey, Mullins). The starting pitching is really, really broken like little else.

  2. sjm5131

    December 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

    I think upgrading the outfield has to be a priority. (My opinion is based on the assumption that top tier, and even 2nd tier pitchers aren’t coming here regardless of Duquette’s strategy).

    Specifically, signing a left-handed hitting veteran like Austin Jackson would strengthen the team. He could spell Jones in center certain days, and his defense in right would take the burden off Jones to cover the whole outfield. He could essentially be Seth Smith with better defense.

    The biggest issue plaguing the rotation last year was that the contractual commitments to Tillman/Jimenez made it impossible to release them and move on.

    If the Orioles can sign Alex Cobb then they should, but it looks like the likes of Cashner/Vargas are more likely, which could put us in the same boat as last year. Better to play Duquette roulette with the rotation and commit money to upgrading a lineup/defense that wasn’t as good as advertised last year.

    • Paul Folkemer

      December 4, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Austin Jackson is right-handed. But I agree that the Orioles could look for a lefty hitting outfielder. Right now the only one they have is Santander, who has to be on the roster for 44 days but is probably ticketed for the minors afterward.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Oh Paul, don’t you forget about Jaycob Brugman. If only to add two more names to your personal spellcheck.

      • Paul Folkemer

        December 4, 2017 at 9:15 am

        Ah, of course. In my mind Brugman is probably ticketed for Norfolk to start the year, but you’re right, he could certainly be in the major league mix.

  3. deqalt

    December 4, 2017 at 8:16 am

    No question priority 1,2 and 3 is legit starting pitching and not re-treads. Priority 4 is re-signing Adams Jones. He is the face of the Orioles and the only FA that is possible to resign.( Britton and Machado is a pipe dream). Priority 5 is a Right fielder. The decision has to be made if 2018 is all in or not. I would think Nick Markakis would be an easy fit. Not expensive and I can’t imagine with the issues the Braves are having that he would be hard to get. Orioles need a dugout guy and not a long term commitment.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Markakis is definitely an interesting fit. But salary-wise he isn’t cheap.

  4. GSISDANNO

    December 4, 2017 at 8:22 am

    In my opinion, the only way the Orioles get a rightfielder is if they can get a left-handed hitter with speed and a high on-base percentage. Too often, the Orioles required three hits to score a run. They need a player who can draw a lot of walks and can go from first to third on a hit. Is that player out there? If so, is he available? The Orioles don’t seem to have much to offer in terms of a trade.
    I would rather give some of our young outfielders a decent shot than find another Seth Smith or Craig Gentry.
    Pitching needs to be our priority. The pitching troubles this season put more pressure on the Orioles hitters and wore out the bullpen. When your started doesn’t make it through the third innings, it screws up your pitching for days. I look at it this way: Almost anyone they sign will be an improvement over Jimenez, Tillman, Hellickson and Wade Miley.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Hard to argue with the overall assessment here. Drink chip.

  5. 5brooks5

    December 4, 2017 at 8:49 am

    I don’t think this should be a priority, unless it helps to improve the pitching staff, in an indirect manner. By this I mean, if a true Starting, left hand hitter is acquired to play right, at least that could make it easier to make other moves. Like moving Trumbo,for some sort of pitching help, Trey to DH, and giving Hays, Santander,etal. a chance to take over left. Or even better would be a young, lead-off type center fielder, move Adam to left, which is inevitable, and Hays is in right… I can dream can’t I? And I’m pretty sure Austin Jackson is right handed.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 9:14 am

      Yeah Brooks. I think it could create some trickle effect. And I’m not automatically set on Mancini to DH. That was his first year EVER in the OF. And he held his own. I’d give him another year to see if continued improvement occurs.

  6. bigdaddydk

    December 4, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Needs are abundant. Top priority has to be starting pitching, but we’ve done a patchwork outfield long enough. Although I think the likelihood is next to zero that the FO will do it, I would actively advocate for Lorenzo Cain. His speed allows AJ to move to RF and he’s got a good enough stick (good BA, decent OBP, and occasional pop) to fill a lot of holes. MLB Trade Rumors says 4/70 is what he should fetch. That’s on par with AJ’s contract, which based on overall production makes Cain a bargain. He’d cover a lot of territory in OPACY and really tighten up the OF defense. Only down side is bats from the right. He hits lefties well over his career though, and with the trio of lefties in Boston plus what the Yankees have, a strong stick would be a definite asset.

    If it did nothing else, it would remove Trumbo from any RF consideration, and that alone is worth the price.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 10:55 am

      No shot Os pay that kind of money to Cain. Not saying it’s a terrible idea. Just won’t happen.

      • bigdaddydk

        December 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

        Oh, I’m not holding my breath for it. That’s for sure. As one who doesn’t have any say in how the checks get written, I just see someone who plugs a lot of holes. Plus, if there was any chance to jettison Trumbo, the extra money would offset the salary. MLBTR says the Giants look like a good landing spot, and his speed plays well in that canyon they play in.

  7. jonniebmore

    December 4, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Hi Dan. I think improving the outfield is a must, just as important as finding starting pitching. If I were DD, I would go hard at landing John Jay and playing him in left. Then the dominos fall: Mancini to 1B and Davis/Trumbo platoon at DH. I think it is imperative to limit Davis and Trumbo at-bats. Sure, when Davis and Mancini play, Davis could play 1B. Having Davis and Trumbo only face opposite hand pitchers will give them every advantage to perform better. Jay would be a great lead-off hitter and is a very good outfielder. As for right field, give it to Hays and be patient.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I like the jon jay idea a whole lot.

  8. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 4, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Unless the next coming of Tony Gwynn shows up in the bargain bin, pitching should be Duquette’s sole concern during the meetings. Between Brugman, Santander and Hays (and let’s throw in Rickard for the ladies) …. the team should be set in right.

    Pitching, pitching and some more pitching.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 10:57 am

      I will say, unlike pitching, when a hitter needs a pillow deal, Balmer is a great bed.

  9. garyintheloo

    December 4, 2017 at 10:39 am

    First a question. Did the Orioles even submit a proposal in the Ohtani sweepstakes? I know they don’t like to spend on international free agents but it would cost them nothing to sit at the table.
    I think the window closed after 2014 and everything since has been patchwork. If they don’t win anything next season what does 2019 look like? Get some upside and trade Britton, Brach, Machado and Jones six months too late for primarily pitchers but outfielders with athleticism as well. Still too many suspects on the major and minor league rosters that we hope will step up.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 10:58 am

      I don’t believe they were in on Ohtani. But the orioles aren’t opposed to the international pro market. Just amateur. Any decision not to pursue Ohtani is financial. Not philosophical.

  10. Orial

    December 4, 2017 at 11:34 am

    Agree pitching is not the only priority. Though people seem to think the offense is fine it’s not. Trumbo/Davis are what they are,Manny was inconsistent,Jones getting older,Hays didn’t take the stage like Benintendi,Beckham died in Sept,and Castillo leaves a big void. So yes get a lefty OFer. Hello Carlos Gonzalez. One year incentive contract.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm

      I’m with you for the most part. Though I’m not sure I can say Trumbo is what he is. He’s been 2 different players in his seasons in Baltimore.

  11. DPG0124

    December 4, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Definitely need to target a good defensive outfielder with a bit of speed especially considering the fact that I expect the starting rotation to be mediocre at best and the more balls put into play that are turned into outs, the better. It seems like you could find a piece like that for fairly cheap on a one or 2 year deal. Also, if Hays or Santander flourish you don’t have to worry about shoehorning a guy like that in the lineup and can be used primarily as a fill-in/pinch-runner/defensive replacement for Mancini. I saw too many singles drop right in front of Seth Smith last year and I do not want to see a repeat of that this year.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Yeah. I would think it would be a 1-year or 2-year max type deal.

  12. willmiranda

    December 4, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I believe our opposition, Boston and New York, have MVP candidates in right field. And we have….?
    The whole outfield needs an upgrade. It is reasonable to expect Mancini to maintain or grow his offense and to improve his already competent defense. Jones, sad but true, has been a great Oriole but is on the downside of the hill; the only question is how quickly he will decline. And right field is a black hole. What do you want? Obviously, a five-tool player who’s a great teammate. What do we have? Five one-tool players. Good you bring up the question, Dan. To use your football analogy. Focusing only on pitching is like a team’s only looking for a quarterback while ignoring the rest of the team. Ask Archie Manning how that works out. His sons knew better.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      Good points Miranda. Drink chip.

  13. Bancells Moustache

    December 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Twice the Orioles took a flyer on an outfielder, Trumbo in 16 Cruz in 14. In both instances that was the offendive boost that got them to the post season. Yes, look for upgrades. Everyone is saying the Orioles should focus on spending an ungodly amount to bring in starters forgetting that the Warehouse has never done that. Ever. Plus, free agency is a two ay street. The pitcher has to want to face Aaron Judge, Josh Donaldson and the Boston offense more than anyone else per year. Good luck with that.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      And pitch half his games in OPaCY. When all is equal, pitchers choose elsewhere.

  14. OsFanStuckInNY

    December 4, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I’m fine filling RF in house. Between Hays & Santander, there’s still Rickard & Mullins. Not to mention Trumbo & Davis, is need be. Pitching and contract extensions will cost a fortune, so pony up whatever it takes to lure at least two mid-rotation guys here or move whomever can be moved and start the rebuild.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 5:29 pm

      Good stuff. Tho I don’t ever imagine Davis going back to right.

  15. Ben1

    December 4, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    P I T C H I N G. Without it Os might just as well concede last place now and an empty ballpark. Jones, Machado, Schoop, are everyday regardless who pitches. All good hitters can play every day. If left handed bats are an issue why did DD spend so much on Trumbo?

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 5:32 pm

      I think they were paying for power no matter if it were left or right. Seems like a wrong play now given Mancini’s emergence. But not an outrageous price for a homer leader at the time.

  16. phildell

    December 4, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    You know the O’s aren’t going to sign a top of the rotation pitcher must less 3. They’ll go after guys on the downside of their careers and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. So why not apply that philosophy to right field and look at a guy like Curtis Granderson. Yes, he’s 36 but he stays in great shape and would be a great clubhouse presence.

    • Dan Connolly

      December 4, 2017 at 5:33 pm

      I can only imagine the teeth-gnashing if the Orioles signed Granderson.

  17. PA Bird Lover

    December 5, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    If money is still available after a rotation is in place, go for a notable left handed bat that can play RF.

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