It’s time for our monthly mailbag. We’ve received many excellent questions on free agency, and I’ll try to answer them here. On Monday, I’ll try to answer questions on other topics. Questions may be edited for length, grammar and clarity.
Question: Rank the top three remaining realistic Oriole targets for a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher after Nathan Eovaldi. From: @Bal_BirdDog
Answer: I would rank Eovaldi first, but the Orioles could shy away because of the possible length of the deal and losing a draft pick as compensation for signing him.
Behind Eovaldi, I would rank Michael Wacha, who was a teammate of Eovaldi’s with Boston last season, and Corey Kluber, who is a two-time Cy Young Award winner.
Question: What is the truth concerning the Angelos family? Do they not have the resources to increase the payroll and how much are they an impediment to Elias making competitive deals? From: Robert Hunt via email
Answer: Robert, Mike Elias has continually said that ownership has been supportive of his approach to building a team and that it hasn’t put any impediments in his way.
Question: Any chance the Orioles will still re-sign Jordan Lyles? I like him more than some of the more expensive options. I think he is still a good fit even with our other recent signing. From: Bill Connor via email
Answer: Bill, since the Orioles declined Lyles’ option, I have reflexively answered by saying I didn’t think a Lyles reunion was possible, but now that so many free-agent starting pitchers have signed in the last two weeks, and there’s still a need for another, I think it’s more of a possibility, though not a likelihood. I would rank Wacha and some others as better fits, but I would have no problem with them bringing Lyles back.
Question: Any chance we see Dylan Bundy back in the orange and black? He just turned 30 and after Jake Arietta, Kevin Gausman and others maybe it’s our turn to get lucky with a former Oriole. I imagine he would be affordable. From: Jim from New Jersey via email
Answer: Jim, I haven’t seen Mike Elias recycle former players and while the new left-field wall dimensions might help Bundy, I would be surprised if he returned to the Orioles. However, with the lessening number of free agents available, I wouldn’t totally rule it out.
Question: Rich, What did Elias mean when he said liftoff’? Is the Angelos family preventing Elias from spending money? I’m assuming they have a plan of action? From: Jon via email
Answer: Jon, I think Mike Elias meant that he thought the Orioles’ play would improve when he said liftoff. Many fans took it to mean that the team would spend more aggressively in the free-agent market. I always thought the Orioles would spend more than they have in the past under Elias, but not enough to satisfy many fans. So far, they’ve spent $18 million on free agents, $10 million on Kyle Gibson and $8 million on Adam Frazier, and I think another signing or two is likely.
Question: Where will Trey Mancini sign as a free agent? Is there any chance the Orioles bring him back? From: Len Arzt via emai
Answer: Len, The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests that San Diego, Seattle or Tampa Bay are logical places for Mancini to play. I’ve seen a report that the Chicago Cubs are interested. I think it’s highly unlikely that he returns to the Orioles. They’d like a left-handed hitter to back up first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and serve as a designated hitter, and Mancini was clearly frustrated by the new left-field wall, which is nearly 30 feet deeper and 6 feet higher.
Question: Do you think that Joey Gallo would be a good fit for the Orioles? He’s a left-handed hitter, can play first base, lots of power, cheap, Gold Glove defense, can play left field. From: @TMartin8910
Answer: Todd, Gallo isn’t a name I’ve heard linked with the Orioles. He made $10.275 million in 2022, and combined to hit .160 in 126 games with the Yankees and Dodgers. Gallo would undoubtedly hit a lot of home runs in Baltimore, but he struck out 163 times last year. I think if his price came down dramatically, perhaps they’d be interested, but even though he walks a lot, a .280 on-base percentage and .638 OPS don’t seem to justify a large expenditure.
Question: What would it take for the Orioles to actually go after a good starting pitcher (not someone who was kinda good four years ago) on a multiyear contract? From: @followonlyos
Answer: I think the Orioles were surprised at the price of second-tier pitchers on the free-agent market. Tiajuan Walker (four years, $72 million) and Jameson Taillon (four years, $68 million) seemed too much for them. Five years ago, I was hoping that the Orioles would sign Alex Cobb. I thought he was a realistic signing on a four-year contract and one that would help the club.
That was a bad call, and I don’t think they want to sign a pitcher like Walker or Taillon for that long. They’ve gone after good pitchers, and Elias said they’ve made offers for more than a year, but I don’t think they want to spend that much on pitchers they’re not convinced would be good long-term investments.
Question: Are there any good free agents left? From: @oriolespodcast
Answer: The quality of free agents has been high, and certainly Dansby Swanson is an excellent shortstop. There are also good outfielders — Andrew Benintendi, Michael Brantley and Michael Conforto — available. I do think pitcher Michael Wacha would be a logical fit for the Orioles, but the market has moved very quickly over the last two weeks.
Question: Do you see the O’s improving via trades going forward? They seem to have a surfeit of talent at a few positions. Will they be dealing for some starters or no? From: Marty Adams via email
Answer: Marty, the Orioles do have a lot of promising infielders and outfielders, and I think it’s possible that if they don’t sign a free-agent pitcher, they could explore trading for one, but I wonder what the cost of trading for one would be. I think a team with a good pitcher would want multiple prospects, or an established outfielder and a prospect or two. I wonder if this is the time to trade a few good prospects for one pitcher who could play here for possibly two seasons.
Question: Is Rougned Odor staying with the Orioles? From: Suzanne Merck via email
Answer: Suzanne, Odor is a free agent, and the Orioles replaced him on Thursday when they signed Adam Frazier to play second base.
Question: My hunch is that collecting outfielders is a way of building up for a trade for a pitcher. Might the collection of outfielders lead them to a Roenicke/Lowenstein-like platoon? My point is that there is an Elias process building. Your thoughts? From: RevBaseball via email
Answer: David, it’s possible that the Orioles would use the outfield prospects to trade for a pitcher, but just like the cost of free agents has been high, I think the cost of trading for an established major league pitcher will be quite high. Would they end up platooning some of these outfielders as they did 40 years ago? I’m not sure because with a four-man bench, your options are limited, and I think players who can play multiple positions such as Adam Frazier, Ramón Urías and Ryan McKenna are valuable.
Question: Why is Elias, signing Frazier when the Orioles have Jordan Westburg and many other second basemen who are ready to come up to the majors. This will just keep them from joining the club. He has done this at other positions, too. To me, it’s a waste of money and how do the players ready to come up feel? From: Perry Campanaris via email
Answer: Perry, I’ve already heard from other fans, such as Tommy Shuffler, who has expressed similar reservations. Frazier’s addition may delay Jordan Westburg’s ascension to the Orioles, but that’s not a certainty. They needed another left-handed hitter, and Frazier can play the outfield, too. I don’t think it’s a waste of money. The more good players the team has, the better.
Question: What’s the best place in Philadelphia for a cheesesteak? From: Damon Stout via email
Answer: Damon is a careful reader who took me up on my offer in my Black Friday post about gifts for Orioles fans. If you’re going to Philadelphia for the July 24th-26th series, I’d highly recommend Cleavers, which is located in Center City. Sonny’s in Old City is also excellent. An old favorite, Jim’s on South Street, is currently closed because of a fire, but should reopen well in time for the Orioles series.