Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Outfield D; contract talks; rotation depth; FanFest -

Dan Connolly

Myriad Orioles Thoughts: Outfield D; contract talks; rotation depth; FanFest

We’ll call this the FanFest version of “Myriad Orioles Thoughts.”

Start with one of the more interesting items to come out of Saturday’s annual event at the Baltimore Convention Center – which was absolutely packed, by the way.

Center fielder Adam Jones was asked about the team’s moves this offseason and Jones, as he usually does, offered his honest opinion.

He said he thinks Seth Smith and Mark Trumbo are excellent athletes and their presence will bolster the lineup, but he’d like to see a strong defensive player with good speed occupy one of the spots next to him.

My take on that: Yup.

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has talked about wanting to upgrade the outfield defense this offseason, and he hasn’t yet. There are a few solid fits that are still on the board – Angel Pagan and Michael Bourn, for instance – and I’m sure finances play a part as to why the Orioles haven’t added a defensive outfielder yet. Hard to argue with Duquette’s track record when it comes to getting solid, late-offseason buys at a good price.

But it is the most important void that Duquette hasn’t filled yet. And though Jones isn’t the assistant general manager, I have no problem with him expressing his thoughts here. He didn’t name names, just what he thought was a pressing need.

Jones, after all, is the one who has been most affected by the Orioles’ lack of strong defensive outfielders over the past few years. Think about it. Who was the last speedy corner outfielder the Orioles have had for the majority of a season?  Nate McLouth, back in 2013. I don’t count Nick Markakis, who played the right field wall at Camden Yards better than anyone in the stadium’s history, but is not known as a speed-burner.

Jones has had to make up for that lack of range to his left and right – and that has taken a toll on his body. He has every right to want an upgrade around him – and, frankly, someone who can back him up at center field on occasion – for 2017.


Joey Rickard could be the answer, but let’s not put too much responsibility on him. Rickard certainly has talent, but he’s played 85 games in the majors. The Orioles could use a veteran with a defensive track record until Rickard shows he can be a consistent, all-around performer.

No movement toward contract extensions

One of the constant themes of FanFest is that the Orioles really aren’t in active talks to extend any of their key players who are nearing free agency. That concept was confirmed by starter Chris Tillman, who can be a free agent at the end of this season, and third baseman Manny Machado, closer Zach Britton and Jones, all of whom are free agents after 2018.

I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with fans, but it is to be expected. The front office is putting its 2017 team together, and those decisions affect the 2018 and 2019 clubs.

That said, talking contract extensions during arbitration negotiations is natural, and it appears that was only done – and done briefly and without resolution – with Britton’s camp.

Machado said he’s heard of absolutely no recent negotiations between his representatives and the club, but he quickly pointed out that he understands the front office has more urgent priorities.

My take on this is that the Orioles’ No. 1 issue – now that the roster is nearly together and no big pieces likely will shake loose — should be making an earnest effort to re-sign Tillman. Give him one less thing to think about before he enters this season as the club’s top starter and as a pending free agent. Tillman said at FanFest that he doesn’t want to negotiate in-season, He said it’s not fair to his teammates if he is distracted.

I believe that. I believe that Tillman isn’t just parroting the typical ballplayer line. There are very few players I have been around that are more unselfish than Tillman. I believe he thinks he’ll ultimately get what he is worth from some team, and will let things play out. Tillman, after all, has believed in himself even when many, many others didn’t.

I don’t know what is fair market price for Tillman. I could only guess. But I do think the Orioles should determine what that is and make him a legitimate offer soon – and if it gets turned down, well, then at least both sides can progress into the season knowing that there was a real attempt.

Looking for another veteran starter

Duquette said at FanFest that he is still pursuing a starting pitcher and admitted that it could be someone the club signs to a minor-league deal. That would seem to take them out of the running for the best pitchers still available such as Jason Hammel and Doug Fister.

As I’ve written before, the Orioles are at a disadvantage when quality pitchers are forced to take one-year deals, because no one wants to base their future on a year pitching in the AL East with half their games at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

So, my guess is the Orioles’ veteran starter acquisition is more reclamation project than steady performer. Unless, of course, they offer a whole lot more money than other contenders.

By the way, my apologies to the fan who asked at our FanFest media forum about the Orioles interest in Fister. I mistakenly said I thought he had just signed a deal. I was getting him mixed up with Scott Feldman, another immensely tall right-hander who also pitched in Houston in 2016 (before being dealt to Toronto). Feldman signed a deal with the Cincinnati Reds last week. Fister is still available.

Shout out to FanFest visitors

The Orioles said more than 15,000 people attended FanFest. Not all of them stopped by the booth, but, at times, it felt like it. It was tremendous meeting so many of you, signing books, answering questions and helping you download our free app.

For those who didn’t get by, you can still sign up through the end of today to be entered in our sweepstakes to win an autographed Brooks Robinson or Cal Ripken Jr., jersey. If you don’t win those, a few of you will still get a tremendous consolation prize: an inscribed copy of my book. That’s’s version of a year supply of Turtle Wax.

Click here to get our app, join our email list and enter our contest.



  1. Peejdoming

    January 31, 2017 at 10:46 am

    the Orioles have done a pretty good job at keeping our starting position players for the most part except for Nick Markakis of course and now in Matt Wieters
    I don’t know about the front office and Buck and Dan Duquette but from what I see as a fan , the Orioles truly want to keep the team’s top guys.
    I really hope the Orioles can keep Manny as an Oriole and everything seems doable with what Manny has said. However I know that anything can happen in baseball and that baseball is a business first and the business side doesn’t always work out like most fans want it to.
    I agree that most pitchers looking for a one year deal to parlay into a multi-year deal are at a disadvantage for the very reasons you mention and I just think we have to draft and develop better pitching talent or maybe look at top rated clubs’ minor league standouts and work some trades possibly.
    Perhaps this year Dylan Bundy can pitch well and be halethy and Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman can have better years too

  2. Steve Cockey

    January 31, 2017 at 11:10 am

    My random guess for a SP on a minors deal? Jorge De La Rosa. Lefty, O’s have liked him for years, and could even potentially shift to the ‘pen if he doesn’t make the rotation (pitched 8 relief innings in 2016, giving up just 1 ER).

  3. Wade Warren

    January 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    really enjoyed reading this still think the Orioles go after Boog Powell in Seatle

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Thanks. He’s had some off-field issues.

  4. KevinInAnnapolis

    January 31, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Dan – I completely agree with your take on Adam Jones. To me, it shows that he cares about the O’s organization and wants to win badly. On player contract extensions, where is the disconnect? Is it Duquette’s management style of building a club one year at a time, or Mr. Angelos’ general disagreement with longer-term contracts (especially pitchers)?

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 11:53 am

      I just think it is Duquette’s style. Not saying he doesn’t multi-task. But he seems to focus on a task and then completes it and then onto another.

  5. Dpsmith22

    February 1, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Jones spoke the truth. Duquette has yet to fill the outfield with legitimate major league talent. When Rickard went down, Duquette MUST have gone out and got someone to spell Jones in center. He didn’t and Jones played banged up all year. That’s not even mentioning him having to cover a tremendous amount of ground with Kim and Trumbo, neither of which are starting big league outfielders.

    De La Rosa would be a great last minute grab. Henderson Alvarez would be as well.

    I agree with Peej and his comment that the O’s seem willing to keep their own. However, letting “Your Own” go FA and then sign them, is one of the worst roster management plays. Not only do you pay more and add more years, it shows you have no plan as to where your organization is heading.

    Tell me that Duquette didn’t know they wanted Trumbo/O’Day/Davis back, before they went FA. Of course he did or he wouldn’t have signed them. But this slow, reactionary way of managing, that Duquette has shown, is a REAL reason, that the O;s have not progressed in the playoffs.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 1, 2017 at 11:55 am

      DP: I hear what you’re saying. Much has merit. But flip side:: if they had tried to sign Trumbo during or at the end of the season, no way they could have gotten the same deal. Three years and $37.5M became possible because the market crashed and Duquette read the tea leaves correctly.

      • Dpsmith22

        February 2, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Your right Dan. But also on the flip side, your supposed to be in “win now mode”. So, what happens if Trumbo signs elsewhere while your waiting for his market to fall? You just lost the player you wanted.

        I don;t believe it that wait and see theory. I believe that as an organization in win now mode, should be targeting a couple players, to fill their major holes, and sign them.

        Cardinals = winning organization
        They use this exact strategy. Just one example: They signed Cecil and the GM was asked if he thought he paid too much. His response “Cecil was the player we targeted for the hole we had in the bullpen. So if we overpaid a little, that’s fine, we got who we wanted.”

        Sometimes that word “value” can be damaging to an organizations goals. In Duquette’s case, I feel this is the case.

  6. ZantiGM

    February 10, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I still think DD brings another pitcher and another RH outfielder….DeLaRosa? Fister? Colby Lewis? Gutierrez? How about Coco Crisp?

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