Myriad O's Thoughts: Slow market assessment; unlikely long-termer; Hall of Fame ballot sent - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Dan Connolly

Myriad O’s Thoughts: Slow market assessment; unlikely long-termer; Hall of Fame ballot sent

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

One thing that every baseball writer can seemingly agree on – and that’s a rare occurrence, trust me – is that this offseason has been the slowest in memory when it comes to free agent signings.

Usually by the beginning of January the free-agent market consists of a few top-shelf, Scott Boras clients playing chicken and a remaining cadre of Tier C players.

This year, though, just about every intriguing free agent is still hanging around as 2017 faded into the rearview mirror. Of the Top 11, as ranked by mlbtraderumors.com at the beginning of the offseason, only two have signed: No. 8, closer Wade Davis, with the Colorado Rockies; and No. 5 Masahiro Tanaka, who never actually became a free agent. He instead decided not to exercise his opt-out clause and is staying with the Yankees.

Nine of the 10 Orioles’ free agents from 2017 (besides Welington Castillo) are looking for jobs, including the quartet of beleaguered starting pitchers: Chris Tillman, Wade Miley, Jeremy Hellickson and Ubaldo Jimenez. I expect all will find big-league jobs no matter what the Regular Joe Oriole fan thinks.

Starting pitchers are hard to find. Camden Yards isn’t the easiest place to pitch. All four have had success previous to 2017. They’ll all get jobs in a rotation to be named.

Maybe fairly soon. And that’s because the free-agent domino has to be dropping any moment. Most of the roadblocks have been moved. Giancarlo Stanton is a New York Yankee. Shohei Ohtani is a Los Angeles Angel (Ohtani, by the way, wasn’t listed in the Top 50 by mlbtraderumors because the Japanese import was his own special situation).

The Manny Machado Sweepstakes are still in wait-and-see mode, but the market appears to be moving on anyway.

The question here is whether the slow market has helped or hurt the Orioles. On one hand, the more players hanging around in January theoretically means there likely will remain a logjam in February, when executive vice president Dan Duquette does his best work. He’s the king of the “undervalued asset,” and he’ll pounce on solid players who have been passed over in any previous feeding frenzy.

Given that, you can say this standstill plays into Duquette’s hands.

But the opposite could be true, too. Duquette, among others, has shown you can wait out the market and get a bargain. And perhaps other teams are taking the same stance this offseason. And that means bidding wars will continue, just at later dates.

It’s gonna be interesting to see how it all plays out, but I’d be shocked if Duquette doesn’t land at least one player you’ve heard of in February, probably after spring training starts.

The unlikeliest long-term deal so far

To illustrate just how slow this free-agent market has been, consider that no player has received a deal beyond three years if you don’t count outfielder Justin Upton re-signing with the Angels.

And if you don’t count … Hyun Soo Kim.

The former Orioles outfielder reportedly signed a four-year deal (worth roughly the equivalent of $10.6 million in the U.S.) to return to his native Korea and play for the LG Twins.

I’m still not convinced Kim couldn’t have been a useful part for a major league team the way he was for the Orioles in 2016. But his lack of defensive fluidity limited him to primarily a designated hitter role and his lack of power hurt him there.

He could flat-out hit, though, and get on base. And he was an extremely well-liked teammate. I’m sure he was disappointed that his MLB dream is over; he truly loved playing in the U.S. and he never complained when his name wasn’t in the lineup.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter simply didn’t trust Kim’s defense and, when Trey Mancini showed that he could play left field, Kim was buried. But I expect him to pick up right where he left off in Korea, battling for a batting crown, even at age 30.

My Hall of Fame ballot

I sent in my Hall of Fame ballot around Christmas and will reveal it once the official announcement has been made. I’m kind of old-school that way. Apparently, I’m also old school when it comes to my selections, because a couple of my picks are not supported by the advanced metrics community.

That’s OK. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and ultimately it is my vote. I consider this past ballot as the most difficult of my career. I believe there are 15 worthy candidates and I could only vote for 10. In fact, I didn’t select one guy this year that I voted for last year. And he didn’t do anything wrong.

There are just more worthy guys that came onto the ballot this year than left last year.

I know it’s not a popular public opinion, but I’d like to see voters have an unlimited number of spots. Some will still use three or four, I’m sure. But I’d feel a lot better about my ballot if I could pick at least a dozen. And I think I could defend each selection.

Happy 2018

As I wrote at the end of 2017, BaltimoreBaseball.com is alive and thriving and we’re committed to another season of baseball. And we have you, the reader/listener/viewer to thank.

So, here’s a sincere thank you from me, from Steve Cockey and from the rest of the BaltimoreBaseball.com crew. And here’s hoping 2018 is even better at this site.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Creatively_19

    January 3, 2018 at 9:00 am

    Happy Belated New Years, Dan!

    My takes:
    Since the O’s haven’t signed many players, it’s going to be a quiet and lonely Fanfest in 4 weeks if Dan doesn’t get moving soon. I guess that’s ok as long as the entire room isn’t holding their breaths waiting for the announcement that we’ve signed Vladimir Guerrero, but I suppose there will be a few new (if not underwhelming) faces on stage for the Orioles. Maybe Manny will be there, who knows?

    Kim took a lot of guts to move to the MLB from his comfortable position in Korea. It was kinda doomed from the start, and that’s a shame. I don’t think he was as bad as he gets credit for being, and his turnaround in 2016 was a fun story. Sad it didn’t continue in 2017 for various reasons, mainly the emergence of Trey Mancini as an everyday player. It would have been nice to see what Kim could have done for the O’s if he played daily, but there was just no place to put him. Best of luck to him.

    Mike Mussina is on the verge of hitting 75% this year in the HOF ballot. I don’t foresee any scenario in which you did not put him on your ballot, so here’s hoping you help him get over the top. He deserves it, even if he’s going to wear the Yankee Pinstripes when he gets in. Personally, I hope the PEDs guys don’t get in. In my eyes it doesn’t jive that Pete Rose gets a lifetime ban if (*)Barry Bonds can get in. Both were excellent hitters, but Bond’s late years power show was a farce and those numbers don’t deserve to be immortalized on a plaque in Cooperstown. If MLB wanted to be honest about themselves, there would be a section of the museum that bluntly addressed PEDs and their place in the history of the sport.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 9:24 am

      19: little-to-no argument with most the points here. My one quibble is I just don’t think it is my place to stop truly worthy players from making the Hall due to steroid connections when I’m sure there is so much more we don’t know. It happened. It was a stain on the game. It definitely should be recognized at the Hall. I understand that some people are absolutely against steroid-users induction. I dumb-down the power numbers for every player and then re-evaluate based on overall package. And Bonds and Clemens pass that test for me. I don’t like it necessarily. But I try to be fair in all I do. Try of course is the key word.

      • Creatively_19

        January 3, 2018 at 10:02 am

        I understand that, but if Bonds get elected, his numbers won’t be dumbed down on his plaque. There will be no mention of his positive test for amphetamines on the plaque. I do believe it is your place to safeguard the hall of fame, because sports writers are the ONLY ones who can do that.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 10:37 am

      I’d be ok with that if I felt I could safeguard. But there are too many things to know. Where do we draw the line? Just steroids? Domestic abuse? Illegal drugs? What if they are combined? Tim Raines admitted to having cocaine in his back pocket during games when he was younger. I take it all in as a factor, but it’s only one thing I weigh. I wish there were more concrete guidelines. But it is all left to interpretation.

  2. phildell

    January 3, 2018 at 10:23 am

    Happy 2018 Dan. Keep up the great work you and everyone at Baltimore Baseball do.
    Who knows when the dam will burst and FA’s will begin finding new homes? But surely there will one or two second tier pitchers that DD reins in.
    As far as the HOF is concerned, I think it’s only a matter of time before suspected PED users gain entry. Time heals all wounds. So let’s stop the farce that these guys will never get in. Open a section of the HOF entitled “The Steroid Era”. Have Bud Selig’s bust greet fans and include guys whose feats prior to suspected use would have gained them entry (Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGuire, etc)

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 5:11 pm

      Interesting concept. But I doubt it will ever have its own wing. But if a guy fails a test I’d be ok with that on his plaque. That’ll never happen either tho.

  3. bickel57

    January 3, 2018 at 11:09 am

    Dan do you think that Dan Duquette is trying to ruin this team since he us his walk year. I thought that that Edgar Bennett Williams destroyed this team trying to be the next George Steinbrenner. But this is starting to look like it is headed in that direction

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Do I think Duquette is trying to make the team really bad in his last year before potentially needing to look for another job? Makes little sense.

  4. Orial

    January 3, 2018 at 12:08 pm

    Dan one simple question–will the Orioles ever be able to compete with the Nationals? Don’t see a level playing field anymore(they have interest in Arietta). A shame,can definitely see Peter’s initial concern.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      You know the Orioles have gotten further in the playoffs than the Nats in recent years. Right?

  5. garyintheloo

    January 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    This is my third try. Happy New Year to BaltimoreBaseball and fellow readers. I take life day-to-day and skip resolutions but it is my intent to hold my comments after ST because I believe this team has no strategic plan so I’ll see what 2019 might look like.
    As a BBWA member I have three questions:
    1. If so many of you wish you had more than ten HOF choices why not change it?
    Same thing for the 5 per cent one and done. As media types why not release everybody’s vote after the winners are announced? It seems hokey to complain about transparency when it is not done on your most important vote of the year.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 3, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      Those proposals got shot down by the Hall, which runs the voting. And there are some complications but basically most will make their ballots public this year. And thanks for the New Years Love and for sticking with sending. Sorry it was a problem.

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