Six reasonable moves the Orioles could - and should - make this month for 2018 and beyond -
Dan Connolly

Six reasonable moves the Orioles could — and should — make this month for 2018 and beyond

Photo credit: Evan Habeeb/USA Today Sports

The Orioles are in the same spot today as they were in early November – with the exception, basically, of three, shiny new Rule 5 pitchers on the 40-man roster.

Executive vice president Dan Duquette hasn’t done anything significant to make this team better than it was in 2017, when the Orioles finished last in the American League East.

The argument can be made that this current team is worse than when the 2017 season ended since it can’t count on injured closer Zach Britton heading into the first half of next season. The Orioles’ bullpen, its primary strength, has been weakened and, therefore, so has the team’s limited trade chips since Britton has no value while on the shelf and de facto closer Brad Brach is an even more crucial part of the team if it indeed hopes to be competitive in 2018.

To be fair, most clubs haven’t done much this offseason in what has been a tremendously slow developing free agent market.

Maybe the Orioles won’t be doing much at all, maybe they are limited by payroll restraints even more than we realize. Or maybe they are just hanging low and will pounce when Duquette feels the time/price is right.

If I were in charge for a day – OK, maybe it would take a week – I think I could make a few reasonably priced moves that could make this team better now and for the future.

I came up with six transactions that I think are realistic and move the club in the right direction. I’m not adding Jake Arrieta, Yu Darvish and J.D. Martinez. Those acquisitions aren’t going to happen. And I’m not wasting time with concepts that stretch reality.

Also, I’m sticking with personnel moves, not philosophical changes. As I’ve written plenty of times, my biggest complaint with this organization is a lack of involvement in the international amateur market due to ownership philosophy. If that doesn’t change, the Orioles will always be fighting an uphill battle. But, for this piece, I’m sticking with changes that are strictly money-based.

One last thing: I’d probably blow up the team and restock the farm system if it were solely my decision. But that’s not happening either. So, here’s what I would do during my week in charge – in order of importance — given what I think I could get approved by the powers-that-be.

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  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 5, 2018 at 7:53 am

    No real arguments with you Dan, but I’m curious about your love for Jon Jay? Really Jon Jay? I don’t see the need. I’d rather role the dice with Mancini everyday in left, and let Hays, Santander and Brugman sort things out in right. I know that none of these 3 are leadoff material, but since when has that been a consideration in Charm City? I also think that Rickard is the man to play the part of the late inning defensive replacement.

    I do agree with you about Machado. Put your best offer on the table now. I’d also add, that I’m not even 100% sure I’d want him to sign it. Hey, I love him, I really do, but I’m not sold that, that $300 dollar talent of his will ever be matched by that seemingly 10¢ head. I know he’s still a young kid and still has time, but let’s face it, the great ones seem to get it before their 25th birthdays. (I can feel Stacey fuming already)

    • Raymo

      January 5, 2018 at 9:08 am

      Boog, who is Stacey?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 5, 2018 at 10:27 am

        Stacey is an ardent defender of Mr. Machado on this site.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:21 am

      I just think Jay fits. Especially the ability to play center. Not sure Rickard can do that effectively consistently.

      • John in Cincy

        January 5, 2018 at 7:14 pm

        I hope Joey starts the season at Norfolk, because Austin Hays brings more to the club.

    • Dpsmith22

      January 5, 2018 at 11:10 am

      -Hayes needs to go down for a bit
      -You really want Santander in RF? Really? Add him with Mancini and Jones is hurt by June.
      -Brugman, who I like, is a 4th OF. Defensive replacement type.
      -Machado needs to be dealt for a quality starter, on the same time lime as Harvey. Jack Flaherty be good.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 5, 2018 at 2:55 pm

        Yeah, the Jones getting hurt due to the lack of speed on either side of him is the sexy argument I’ve heard for a few months now. I don’t buy it. It’s a bit of a stretch and an over-analysis by the genius wannabes. Jones getting hurt recently is probably much more likely due to the fact that he’s getting a little long in the tooth.

        I won’t argue about Hays and Santander, but maybe one or both of them will prove capable of cutting their teeth in the show. I haven’t seen either of them enough to tell you just how good they are or are not in the field.

        Machado for a quality starter? Better get a lot more than that for him, otherwise I’d ride him out for this final year.

        • Dpsmith22

          January 5, 2018 at 3:28 pm

          The issue with Jones started in 2015′, when Duquette brought in a bunch of AAAA’s and never-were’s that became the worst OF, in the majors that year. Jones was banged up starting 15′, 16′ and last year, he wasn’t quite as bad, although the OF defense wasn’t very good again. Him getting old is contributing factor for sure.

          *It certainly didn’t help that when Rickard got hurt, Jones’s only backup in CF, Duquette did nothing to get someone else.

          Santander’s scouting reports all say he better hit. No arm to speak of and no foot speed. Sounds like Kim….Never got above AA? Pass. Needs more time. He hit around .200 in the AFL this year too. Not sure where all the love is coming from in the Organization.

          Hays is an excellent outfielder and he showed it with multiple running catches last year. I would just like to see him play a bit more in AAA. He needs full season of AB’s.

          Sadly I don’t think Manny will get much more than 1 starter and MAYBE 1 up and coming starter. Its obvious the packages aren’t what the O’s thought they would be. Of course, Duquette is always fooled by the market trades or otherwise.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 6, 2018 at 3:43 pm

            Santander tore up AA ball last year.

  2. Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

    January 5, 2018 at 7:54 am

    I can’t see anyone trading useful pitching to acquire Trumbo. Maybe if he has a good first half, you could get a Feldman-type at the trade deadline.

    Tillman and Cashner are not much more than bodies to plug into a rotation that was already historically bad. I’d bet Tillman will be better, so yeah, maybe he’s more than a body. That still leaves a spot for another fringe-MLB/AAAA pitcher to throw up a 5.00 ERA every fifth day. Castro/Ynoa/Wright/Cortes, they all feel the same — a desperate hope that some unknown can overperform.

    And really, these are the kind of pathetic half-moves that we saw for a decade and a half, moves that you see when a team doesn’t have the fortitude to actually rebuild, or the guts to do what is necessary to actually reload and be truly competitive for 2018. They are treading water, and hoping to a) finally get a good offer for Manny to cover up their glaring ineptitude in how they’ve handled him so far, and b) hoping that Hays/Mullins/Santander/Mountcastle/Harvey all wind up contributing solidly in 2019/2020. Which, ok, but by then Bundy and Gausman will be leaving and they’ll be stuck looking for 3-4 starters again. (I don’t honestly think they’ve learned their lesson about early extensions — not yet, anyway).


    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:26 am

      I told ya. I’m working with what I believe is the reality. Not exactly what I would do if given full control. Silly for me to suggest otherwise.

      • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

        January 5, 2018 at 9:48 am

        Hey Dan! No, I get what you’re saying. I just think it’s sad that the most realistic course of action that we can see them taking is pretty, well, lame.

  3. EutawColeslaw

    January 5, 2018 at 8:14 am


    Can you explain why the team won’t give out a 300M contract? This is a team that gave out a 7 year contract to a 30 year old Chris Davis so the years shouldn’t be a problem. This is also a team that last year devoted 30M to Wade Miley, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Mark Trumbo. This is a ballclub that has only 40M in guaranteed salaries on the books for 2019 and only Chris Davis on the books beyond that.

    It’s somewhat frustrating that the team just dismisses the possibility of keeping Machado. It will become even more frustrating as fans have to watch the club pay Chris Davis 17M a year and throw 10-15M a year at the Ubaldos, Gallardos, and Mileys of the world.

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      January 5, 2018 at 8:36 am

      Everything you wrote above makes sense.

      I’ve looked at it like, here they’re willing to pay Davis and Trumbo $30+ million to be the strikeout-logjam twins, but don’t want to pay sightly less than that for a guy who may turn out to be the best player to wear the Oriole uniform.

      I just continue to not understand the team.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 5, 2018 at 10:33 am

        I agree with you Zoey. But I also believe that had not the O’s given Davis his huge payday, they’d be much more likely to give Manny his $300. Kind of a “burn me once shame on you, burn me twice” ….. type of thing. They’re gun shy, just as they are with giving starters more than 3 year deals. Ubaldo’s lack of success has certainy cemented that rule they embrace more than ever now.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:29 am

      $300 million is nearly double what Davis got. It’s a ridiculously huge number and could cripple an organization if it doesn’t work out. Otherwise, no worries.

      • EutawColeslaw

        January 5, 2018 at 10:06 am

        I think “cripple” is an overexaggeration. This is an organization that won 89 games and made the playoffs spending 32M on Ubaldo (0.1 WAR), Gallardo (0.2 WAR), Darren O’Day (0.6 WAR), and Brian Matusz (-0.3 WAR, not to mention the draft pick used to dump his salary on ATL).

        It’s clear that the organization has the money to pay Machado. They would just rather spread that money around on marginal players rather than spend it on a (Boras voice) generational talent that is on a Hall of Fame trajectory. I think most of the fanbase would agree that the return on investment of a Machado contract would be much higher than the return on four (or more) players the caliber of Andrew Cashner and Jon Jay.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          January 5, 2018 at 10:35 am

          It would be silly to say that a failed $300 wouldn’t cripple this team. Look at what the Davis contract has already done!

        • Dpsmith22

          January 5, 2018 at 11:12 am

          60 mil on 2 players…..Good luck fielding a competitive team with the poor drafting and development.

    • Wade Warren

      January 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Manny is not worth 300 million

  4. Orial

    January 5, 2018 at 8:26 am

    Dan I don’t have much to add you’ve hit everything head on especially trading Trumbo. There has to be a salary dump(Kennedy in KC)somewhere for him. Athleticism is very key. Interesting idea of a Manny/Schoop package extension. Hey as the old saying goes “nothing ventured nothing gained”.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:30 am

      That’s probably what it would take to deal Trumbo. But again this isn’t a terrible contract money-wise. Just how it fits with current roster.

  5. Orial

    January 5, 2018 at 8:29 am

    A little side note-I realize there’s a love affair with Mancini but he really should be out of LF. He’s decent but again–speed/athleticism.

    • EutawColeslaw

      January 5, 2018 at 8:42 am

      He was competent in LF last year. If they move Trumbo then Mancini obviously slides to DH on at least a part time basis. If Trumbo plays out his contract here then they only need Mancini to hold up for two more years.

      It’s somewhat shocking but when you look at the Statcast sprint speed leaderboards Mancini is actually only slightly behind Adam Jones.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:32 am

      In case anyone is wondering I hate all defensive metrics. Or sort of defensive metrics.

  6. Strovel

    January 5, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Dilly Dilly!

    • Orial

      January 5, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Alright that did it. I’ve been asking everybody–other than the Bud Lite commercial what the hell does Dilly Dilly mean? No one has an answer.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 5, 2018 at 10:38 am

        It’s an old world tern used to signify alliegiance to a king or monarchy.

    • Zoey Dog Says Throw Strikes

      January 5, 2018 at 9:09 am

      Is this still a thing?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:33 am

      It’s approval. I think.

  7. The Matt Bus

    January 5, 2018 at 9:03 am

    I agree with a lot of this but no more than 2 years for Cashner. Jon Jay is also one of Manny’s best friends. Sign him and extend Schoop and make him say no to 260.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:33 am

      I still think he’d say no to $260. At this point anyway.

  8. Paul Folkemer

    January 5, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I would steer clear of a three-year deal for Cashner. He’s way too much like Yovani Gallardo for my tastes — a career NL pitcher who had one flukishly good year for Texas, where he had a low ERA despite a plummeting strikeout rate. A lot of their career stats (hit rate, WHIP, FIP) are remarkably similar, although Cashner’s strikeout rate is even worse than Gallardo’s was. And Cashner is a year older than Gallardo was when he signed with the Orioles.

    I think Cashner is on the verge of a Gallardo-esque implosion. Since the Orioles are desperate for starters, I’d take a chance on him for something like one year and an option, but not three years.

    I agree with your other ideas, though. Especially extending Schoop and trading Manny.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 9:34 am

      I don’t feel good about 3 years for him. But you aren’t getting him for 2, imo. He’d find a better landing spot for 2.

  9. TxBirdFan

    January 5, 2018 at 10:41 am

    Happy 2018 Dan, and thanks for continuing to be there for us!

    I agree we should sign Cashner. I catch ~15 Rangers game each year and have seen him pitch multiple times. Texas is not an easy place to pitch due to the heat, and he’s looked good in a rotation that also included Yu Darvish and Cole Hamels. Get him signed!

    As for Trumbo, I’d deal him OR Davis. They shouldn’t be in the same lineup together so one of them has to go. They are similar players – HRs or bust, and opposing pitchers have figured out how to pitch them. The team is too vulnerable when both are in the game, so one or the other needs to be moved.

    I also agree on the need to have a better lead off hitter. Where’s Don Buford when you need him?

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 10:51 am

      Davis’ contract is unmovable. Has 5 more years on it. You’d have to eat a ton. Trumbo’s is not unwieldy.

      • Lookouts400

        January 5, 2018 at 2:22 pm

        I agree with you, to an extent. You’d know better than I, but maybe a co salary dump, Davis for some downtrodden starter on a big contract? If nothing else, trading Davis would allow Trumbo to go to first and he has proven to be a better hitter when playing the field. Right field would then be opened up, as would the DH. Davis reminds me of a big ole seven footer in basketball who can do nothing but dunk. The ball gets to him and the offense stops. I’ve had Davis in rotisserie for years, so I’m a big fan, but when Davis comes to bat lately, the Orioles offense stops.

        So, might there be a starter out there who might be better than what the Orioles had for the past couple of years who might be a good trade fit for Davis?

  10. bobbymac824

    January 5, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Thanks Dan! Well done – cogent, efficacious and (my favorite) blasphemous! Git ‘er done (well with Paul Folk’s disclaimer!) Good read here in chilly FL. Also, that first slide is where we all want to be again!

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 10:53 am

      Thanks Bobby. And I don’t want to hear about chilly FLORIDA.

  11. Ben1

    January 5, 2018 at 10:54 am

    It is getting harder and harder for me to get excited. Whar I see from DD and PA is absolutely no vision for the future nor a plan for today. Current contracts seem to force dumpster diving and finding any real quality totally depends on luck.
    AL East has Boston, NY, and to some degree Toronto, committed to winning, especially after dissappointing years. I’ll root-root-root for the O’s like I have since 1954. Back then I was young and foolish, and waited 12 years for a champion team. I dont know if I have another 12 years to wait.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 10:59 am

      It’s stunning that it will be 35 years this year that the Orioles were last in a World Series.

    • Dpsmith22

      January 5, 2018 at 11:16 am

      Absolutely true.

      The majority of the O’s with sizable salaries, are not producing. Trumbo, O’Day, Davis, Britton (injured). Trumbo, O’Day, and Davis were bad deals when they were made.

      Duquette is terrible and PA isn’t helping matters with his silly “Talk to my Undercover Guys” to make decisions. Not to even mention Dan’s biggest complaint, Intl spending.

  12. OriolesMagic

    January 5, 2018 at 11:39 am

    Great article Dan.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks. And thanks for reading.

  13. Lookouts400

    January 5, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Jay would be perfect, maybe the most perfect FA out there. First, as noted in Dan’s column, he can play all three outfield spots. Two, he has what the Orioles have always craved, a very good OBP. Last year it was 374 and for his career, it’s 355. He had a bit of down year in 2015, a 210/306/257 but raised it quickly the past two seasons. And what’s more, three. He is very good against LHPs. His career line in 824 PAs vs southpaws is 288/359/353. Last year for the Cubs, his slash vs lefties was 318/410/341 in 85 ABs. He has little power against either hand, but like Dan said, more power is really not necessary, what is necessary is more OBP. Jay would slot in very nicely at the top, followed in any particular order by Schoop, Machado(if he’s here), Beckham, Mancini, Jones, Davis and Trumbo. Indeed, if Davis has more people on base when he bats he’s likely to see more fastballs and hopefully can be enticed to swing the bat more.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 5, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      And the other thing: He shouldn’t require a long-term deal. So if it doesn’t work out or he gets hurt you aren’t on the hook for years. And that’s important if this team falls apart as many believe will happen.

  14. Eldersburg Enigma

    January 5, 2018 at 9:53 pm

    It’s time to trade Schoop. Nobody had more trade value. Consider trading Givens for the same reason.

    None of the top free agent hitters will sign until Rafael Palmeiro signs somewhere.

    • PA Bird Lover

      January 6, 2018 at 2:35 pm

      I’m not convinced your Raffy comment holds water, but your other point fits to the point of blowing up this team. Management seems to me is trying to grab lightning-in-a-bottle with to many borderline players. No starters, If both Davis and Trumbo bounce back, if Jones holds up, if Beckman can play a full season at SS, if Mancini can cover the gap, is Sisco ready, can Brach be dependable, and this list can go on and on. I realize there are a few other teams that fit this mold, but perhaps for more reasonable reasoning. The O’s owner and his select advisory group apparently has no vision for winning. They want to win but have no idea how to build a winning team, which is unbelievable to me.
      Blow up this team because with what players we have and those we are about to loose and good players they say the organization cannot afford, what is the sense of it all other than making money? I hate the Yanks, but I give that team credit for spending and taking chances. They want to win!

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2018 at 9:32 pm

      For the record, they did make the playoffs three times in past 6 years. Have gotten as far as the Yankees in that time: ALCS. Now, I expect the Yankees to get to the WS soon partially due to their forward thinking in 2016. But let’s not overstate.

  15. Churchton

    January 6, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Get rid of Chris Davis a 20 mil long term disgrace. They sit and complain manny is to high priced when the pay the strike out king that much and refused to pay Cruz who is better

    • Eldersburg Enigma

      January 6, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      Stuck with Chris Davis for five more years. Unless he has a huge turnaround year (and probably even if that happened), nobody will touch that contract. Not resigning Nelson Cruz was dumb but that was there offseasons ago, and at least then they could point to his age in not wanting a fourth year included in that deal.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 6, 2018 at 9:33 pm

      What the Enigma said.

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