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?