Now that the 2019 season is over, another challenging offseason begins -

Rich Dubroff

Now that the 2019 season is over, another challenging offseason begins

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

BOSTON— The second-worst season in Orioles history is over. It wasn’t as bad as 2018 with its 115 losses, but the Orioles eight-game improvement in 2019 still left them with a 54-108 record.

In 1988, when the Orioles started 0-21, they finished 54-107 with a game rained out.

Their 223 losses in the past two seasons are the fourth worst in baseball history, according to STATS.

Their ERA was 5.59, by far the worst in baseball.

And, they allowed 305 home runs, nearly 50 more than the previous major league record.

Jonathan Villar played in all 162 games. Mark Trumbo, who only played in 12 after knee surgery, may have concluded his career on Sunday.

The Orioles used 58 players and 38 pitchers, both team records.

Now that the season is over, there’s more certainty about where the team is heading than there was a year ago. Still, there are many questions as they head toward 2020.

Manager Brandon Hyde wouldn’t get specific on whether there would be changes to the coaching staff. Hyde’s staff wasn’t completed until more than a month after he was hired in mid-December, so there’s no rush if he and general manager Mike Elias are considering changes.


Elias, who wasn’t hired until mid-November, has already made over the front office and minor league staff, making large-scale dismissals.

He’ll get a chance to make major changes to a roster that he could only tinker with last winter. Elias used the waiver wire throughout the season, and he’s likely to grab players let go by other organizations.

That bargain hunting brought the Orioles Hanser Alberto, Aaron Brooks  and Pedro Severino, who all contributed in 2019.

Don’t expect many, if any, major league free agents to be signed. The only player Elias signed before this season that way was Nate Karns, who pitched in just four games before he was hurt.

There’ll be many six-year minor league free agents signed. During the Dan Duquette-Buck Showalter era, the Orioles mantra was that they could “out-opportunity” other teams for those players.

That will again be true because there are relatively few players on the 40-man roster who are guaranteed to be there next February 11 when spring training begins in Sarasota, Florida.

Elias will get the opportunity to engineer some trades. The only name player he’s traded since taking over was Andrew Cashner, who was dealt to the Red Sox for two teenaged Dominican Summer League players in July.

The Orioles contemplated dealing Villar and Mychal Givens at the deadline, but didn’t receive any tempting offers.

Givens, who’s in his second year of arbitration eligibility, could make $3 million next season, and with a 4.57 ERA and eight blown saves, Elias could decide to move on from the 29-year-old right-hander.

Villar stole 40 bases, had 24 home runs and a 4.1 WAR, but could earn in excess of $6 million in his final year of arbitration,. Elias might try to trade Villar, too.

It’s unlikely the Orioles will deal Trey Mancini, who was named Most Valuable Oriole. It’s also unlikely that they offer him an extension, though they would be wise both on the field and among a fan base starving for good news.

There’s been chatter about the Orioles parting ways with Richard Bleier and Dylan Bundy, though that would seem shortsighted.

Bleier had his best month of the season in September with a 2.93 ERA and 0.717 WHIP.

The Orioles are trying to acquire young talent, but they still need starting pitchers. Although Bundy had another disappointing season, he’s an innings-eater, and with John Means and Alex Cobb, gives the team a credible top three.

A better bullpen is a necessity for 2020. In his brief time with the team, Hunter Harvey showed promise that he could be a late-inning reliever. So did Dillon Tate. Others who might get a chance to show more include Evan Phillips, Tanner Scott and Chandler Shepherd, who started on Sunday.

But many of the relievers on this season’s team could be swapped out.

Since they finished with the second-worst record in baseball, the Orioles get the second pick in December’s Rule 5 draft, and it would be surprising if the Orioles passed on the opportunity to grab an additional player or two there.

Richie Martin, the top pick in last December’s draft, made it through the entire season on the active roster, and while he doesn’t appear to be a future star, might be useful in 2020 and beyond.

There won’t be nearly the hype about the draft in June that there was this year. For the first time in their history, they’ll have the second choice and should be able to select good players there.

The Orioles’ record improved slightly in 2019.  In 2020, fans will be less patient and hoping for more improvement. A similar upward move next season would still leave them with about 100 losses, which wouldn’t satisfy a dwindling fan base.

The guess here is that the offseason will feature dozens of moves. Few will excite the fans as the long overdue remake of the Orioles continues.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Bhoffman1

    September 30, 2019 at 8:10 am

    My thoughts . Elias be a man and get rid of Davis. You have to pay him one way or another and he hurts the club and puts Mancini in the outfield and holds back the development of younger players. Sign Mancini and Vilar they both deserve this after the seasons they had and we need a foundation to build on. Never let Stevie play the outfield again period if he is on this club next year. Get a SS who can flied and hit at least 250 until we have one of our kids ready. I don’t think Martin is the answer. Santlander fall off was not good after a breakout season but he should start next year along with Hays , Mancini and yes Mountcastle in the outfield. I would like to see DJ and Mason battle it out for the fourth position in the outfield. I don’t know what happened to Siscos bat but he was a major disappointment and maybe it’s time to move on from him even though Wynn is terrible and Severino is a backup not starter. Make Nunez field 2 million grounders in the off season and let him

    • Camden Brooks

      September 30, 2019 at 9:18 pm

      I actually agree with most of what Bhoff says. I love CD, but we need to cut the cord. I think Santander is an all-star in the making. Martin’s placement for next year will be interesting in that he showed improvement (.284 after the all-star game), and there isn’t an obvious replacement other than Villar. Mountcastle – he deserves a shot with the O’s but his defense has to be a concern to everyone.

    • Bhoffman1

      September 30, 2019 at 9:22 pm

      Did Martin really hit 284 after all star break . Hard to believe.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 30, 2019 at 9:27 pm

      He did, Bruce, but played less.

  2. Bhoffman1

    September 30, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Alternate with Ruiz as DH and third baseman. Pitching I will get to some other time. Lol

  3. Bman

    September 30, 2019 at 9:25 am

    40 man decisions should be interesting and perhaps they can snag a decent pick in the rule 5 draft in December. Ok, this is two years of rebuild and it’s time to cut the dead weight from the roster…. let’s get more young guys up there and see what they can do. Hays, Santander, Mountcastle, Stewart, Mancini, Núñez, Ruiz, Sisco, Alberto. Mostly Os need to get a few more solid arms in the starting rotation from AAA or AA, like Akin, Kremer, Lowther, Baumann, Wells, Sedlock types, etc. I think if they fill out the rotation and solidify bullpen they can actually be competitive next year! The offense is already there. If they trade Villar, however, that will be a big hole to fill.

  4. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 30, 2019 at 9:40 am

    Aside from the despicable tank job, I pretty much like everything that Mike Elias has done, said, and stood for up to this point of his tenure.

    That being said, keeping Crush Davis to start next year … for me anyway … will be the be tell of whether or not this is the man we fans (or I at least) want running the Orioles organization for the foreseeable future. Keeping him would show Mr. Elias is a puppet for ownership. Eat the contract however, and I’ll forgive every tanking maneuver he made this year.

    So Mr. Elias what is is going to be? Do you have the marbles to make what is obviously the correct and necessary call regarding Davis?

    • Bhoffman1

      September 30, 2019 at 3:00 pm

      I agree with you Boog

    • CalsPals

      September 30, 2019 at 8:35 pm

      Two thumbs up, go O’s…

  5. Orial

    September 30, 2019 at 10:21 am

    I’ve flip flopped a hundred times on this–but extend Mancini. His value is more to the O’s than on the open market. Mancini–1B/DH. He was capable in the OF but speed and defense is needed out there. I’m not sold on the Rule 5 any more know matter how tempting the 2nd pick is. 9 out of 10 time it’s a player that takes a roster spot and contributes nothing(Santander is an exception do to IL time). Off season goal–keep Bundy,Means,Cobb, keep working on the bullpen and PLEASE teach these guys some baseball instincts/savy.

  6. Hallbe62

    September 30, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Maybe I’m a lot less pragmatic than other folks, or just way too optimistic at times, but I think the Orioles goal for 2020 should be a 20 game swing. From 54 wins to 74 wins, that should be our goal.

    It wouldn’t be hard to do either, with the right moves and decisions over the off season.

    Hell, the ’88 club was just as horrendous and look what they did the following year in ’89. One weekend away from a playoff berth that fell just short.

    A guy can dream, can’t he ?

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      September 30, 2019 at 10:53 am

      Why not make that 80 wins? And I’m being serious. All we need is a little Duquette style finds for the pitching staff.

      • Hallbe62

        September 30, 2019 at 10:56 am

        I’d take that in a heartbeat, Boog.

      • Jbigle1

        September 30, 2019 at 5:46 pm

        Duquette also had the most dominant closer in the game and an excellent bridge of Brach, O’day, Givens or Miller. We need a hell of a lot more than some Duquette finds to get that. We need to build nearly an entire bullpen and find at least 2 quality major league starters to have that level of talent.

        Your comment makes that seem like an easy fix. It certainly isn’t. That’s before you consider we replaced Machado with Rio Ruiz. And J.J. hardy with god only knows who.

        I’m not concerned about the W-L’s as I am about player development. If the orioles win 71 games because Alex Cobb,Givens, Villar, and our old buddy Crush decided to have great seasons that’s not a real accomplishment. We’d be worse off than if we had won 64 with fantastic seasons from Means, Hays, Santander, and Harvey.

        I’m concerned about the guys who will be here when the team is competitive. The other guys are placeholders and potential trade assets.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          September 30, 2019 at 11:28 pm

          Dude … beside Miller being a half season rental … who the heck do you think found Brach, O’day & Givens? They were all Duquette finds. Who do you think turned Britton from a starter to a reliever? It’s certainly not an “easy fix”, and if I sounded flippant, so be was said tongue in cheek. It’s baseball…why so seriouis? Yes things may take a few years … but lets TRY to win a few in the meantime. If you’re and all the in the know seamheads are so concerned about player development to the extent that the mother team simply doesn’t matter, why bother to read This is Baltimore..not Norfolk, Bowie or Frederick. I understand the whole rebuild/player development thing, but let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees ‘eh?

  7. Hallbe62

    September 30, 2019 at 10:37 am

    One more thing fellow’ers………the O’s are hiring.

    Gonna throw my resume into the stack.


    I would rather show my lack of baseball prowess here (

  8. willmiranda

    September 30, 2019 at 11:22 am

    I’m not too keen on the Rule 5 guys for this team because we carry so many pitchers.
    You really want to have useful players on the bench, and that requires some flexibility,
    especially in view of injuries or other changing needs. I liked Flaherty as a utility player
    on a talented team. Although Santander seems to be developing, it has taken years beyond
    his Rule 5 year. Better, I think, to try and make a trade for someone left off the roster.
    BTW, I’m not intending to invite suggestions on dead wood on the bench. That’s another story.

  9. Ekim

    September 30, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    Rich… your comment “The guess here is that the off-season will feature dozens of moves.” better be the mantra going forward. Looking at the 40 man roster one would be hard pressed to put 9 truly major league players on the field. As we all keep saying, the pitching, other than Means, is woefully inadequate. Of the 19 pitchers (throwers) Hyde had at Boston (including Harvey) I’d be willing to bet only a handful would bring more than an equivalent player in return. They, for the most part, are minor league “fillers”, used to fill out a roster. I’m to the point that even 2021 is going to be a stretch to break even. I, truly, hope not but to do a trade you have to have something to offer. All we have is other teams rejects. Just saying…

  10. Bancells Moustache

    September 30, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Curious about the SS position next year, as the prospects are still a ways away, and Martin needs some more seasoning in Bowie or Norfolk. Alberto and Nunez have been pretty effective with the stick, so a lineup of the former at 2B and the latter at the hot corner means Villar taking the everyday reps at short. He’s serviceable over there, but noone is mistaking him for Ozzie Smith anytime soon. I wouldn’t put it past this front office to dump Villar to save a few bucks. Wilkerson maybe? A free agent bargain buy? It bears watching.

    • ClayDal

      September 30, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      The question at SS is how do the Orioles project Richie Martin for the future. If they feel he can be the starter at SS, he would probably start the year at Norfolk. More seasoning and if you leave him there 3 weeks, you save a year service time. Not that they would admit that. If he is just considered a placeholder until the other prospects are ready, he would most likely start the season here. Trade Villar, put Alberto and Wilkerson at 2B

    • Bancells Moustache

      September 30, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Martin’s not a big league SS, at least not yet. We just had an entire season to tell us that. Send him to the farm, let him get better, and take a peak in ’21, since neither Hall nor Grenier looks to be beating down the door, and Henderson is still a long way away.

      Also, why trade Villar? You aren’t getting a top prospect or a package for him, and he’s not expensive at all. He’s one of two legit big league players on the whole team, why do we need to toss him overboard? His rate goes up with arbitration, sure, but it’s not like it’s gonna be a massive raise.

    • ClayDal

      September 30, 2019 at 3:44 pm

      Why spend 7 million dollars for someone who is gone at the end of next year? He’s not going to make the team a playoff contender next year by himself. Attendance isn’t going to go up with him on the team. The MASN dispute isn’t going anywhere. Even if you release Chris Davis, you’re still on the hook for his salary. Mancini is due for a nice raise in his first year of arbitration. Alberto can play 2B for a lot less money. If they don’t trade Villar, don’t be shocked if he is non tendered. Not saying it would happen, but if it does I told you so

      • Bancells Moustache

        October 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

        Why not pay 7 mil, which is about the going rate for a qualified Major League Shortstop, when you don’t have anyone to backfill the position? If they don’t pay Villar the 7 mil, are the tickets gonna be cheaper? Free parking? Beer goes down by a dollar or two a can? Nope. That’s 7 million not being invested into putting a decent product on a field that was paid for with public funds. I get the whole corporate, CFO baseball aspect of it, doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    • ClayDal

      October 1, 2019 at 7:12 pm

      For one thing, Villar is a 2B not a SS. He’s adequate at SS , but his best position is 2B. Alberto can play 2B for a lot less money, and Richie Martin and a cheap minor league SS can hold the fort down until the minor league prospects are ready. If the Orioles do pay Villar 7 million, does that increase attendance? Make the Orioles a playoff contender? Settle the MASN dispute? There are no guarantees that Villar will agree to stay here past 2020, his free agency year. Conversely, if the Orioles trade him, there would be a chance he could return as a free agent if there is mutual interest. My suspicion is the Orioles are trying to keep the payroll as low as possible. Can’t do much about Davis and Cobb, who have guaranteed contracts. That means the arbitration eligible players (Villar, Mancini, Bundy, Givens) are vulnerable to a trade. Look, I wish the Orioles were the Yankees or the Red Sox and can just sign anybody. But this is Baltimore, a small to midsize market.

  11. Buckler89

    October 1, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    Hoping that fans are in this for the long haul. I am honestly prepared for this rebuild to last 4-5 years before they’re winning again. The improved state of the farm system makes me think it could come sooner than anticipated, but I really am all-in on this rebuild. This is not an easy thing to do, you can’t just flip a switch and be good again. It requires some savvy trades, hitting on some good draft picks, a few free agent signings, and approximately a metric crap ton of luck.

    I don’t expect a huge improvement next year, maybe down to around 95-100 losses, but to me, progress is progress. 2019 and 2020 success should be judged in a similar fashion: how do young guys develop? This year, we saw some great development (and some disappointment) and I hope/expect to see it next year too. These 2 years are not about wins and losses for me. It’s easy to fall into that and panic after a couple of years when the team is still losing a lot, but to me, that’s not the way to look at it. People should absolutely read Astroball as well as The Plan (Cubs rebuild) if they want a look at how these rebuilds work. Both books provide some great insight into what we’re looking at here. 2021 – 2023 will be more about wins and losses for me, with 2023 being my prediction of having a winning record again.

    Of course, I’m just some dude who read some baseball books and some websites, so I’m nowhere near being an expert on this and it’s entirely likely that I’m way off on all of this lol.

    • [email protected]

      October 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      Agree wholeheartedly with Buckler. One of the keys is to substantially cut down on the defensive mistakes and complete the fundamentals with high quality. Errors and mistakes will happen but these need to occur much less frequently if we are going to compete. I believe this to be a focus that Hyde, the coaching staff and the minor league staff must embrace if the next few years are going to reflect progress.

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