The Orioles’ offseason is right here, giving them the prospect to enhance a roster that gained the American League East however was swept out of the playoffs by the eventual World Series champion Texas Rangers.
Despite their regular-season successes, the Orioles have areas they’ll enhance. Baltimore additionally has 5 gamers who at the moment are free brokers — Kyle Gibson, Adam Frazier, Aaron Hicks, Jack Flaherty and Shintaro Fujinami — and about thrice as many who’re eligible for arbitration, leaving holes and choices.
As the Orioles’ offseason will get underway, Baltimore Sun beat reporters Nathan Ruiz and Jacob Calvin Meyer and editor Tim Schwartz give their ideas on what this winter ought to appear like for Baltimore.
What is the Orioles’ prime offseason precedence?
Ruiz: Don’t let the phrases and exclamation factors on the Camden Yards video board idiot you: The Orioles stay and not using a long-term lease binding them to the ballpark and Baltimore. The 30-year “deal” introduced the night time the Orioles clinched the AL East was, it turned out, a nonbonding memorandum of understanding, that means the lease nonetheless expires Dec. 31. On the sphere, the Orioles have wants, notably on the entrance of their rotation and the again of their bullpen, however the prime precedence this offseason must be really committing to the town. Forget “second Baltimore renaissance” and “live, work, play.” The most essential three-word combo is “sign the lease.”
Meyer: What is? Who is aware of. What ought to be? Taking significant steps towards a long-term extension with at the least one in all their younger stars. Signing the Adley Rutschmans and Gunnar Hendersons of the world isn’t any simple job, but a number of different MLB franchises — such because the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves — have discovered a approach. The Orioles might use a topline beginning pitcher, bullpen depth and perhaps an outfielder, however none of these wants would assuage the worry that the gamers Baltimore followers love most won’t be right here long run.
Schwartz: A top-tier beginning pitcher. You would anticipate the Orioles’ younger hitters to proceed to develop and get higher — Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson are headed towards famous person standing with their trajectory — so the necessity might be a dominant arm. Look solely to their postseason sequence to see why. They might be restricted by what they could have the ability to provide a free agent resembling Blake Snell, however additionally they lack a sure-thing pitching prospect. So dipping into the pool of prospects in the event that they determine to make a commerce for an enormous arm could be a smart move. Nathan Eovaldi didn’t break the Rangers’ financial institution and he carried them to their first World Series title, so there ought to be choices to pursue past the highest tier.
Who is their very best commerce or free-agent goal?
Ruiz: Operating underneath the idea the Orioles gained’t make the monetary dedication required so as to add a prime starter through free company, a commerce appears to be their greatest guess. Among the anticipated choices, Chicago White Sox right-hander Dylan Cease would seemingly take advantage of sense. Other prime commerce candidates resembling Corbin Burnes, Shane Bieber and Tyler Glasnow are free brokers after 2024, whereas Cease has two years of management remaining, which might make it extra palatable to half with the prospects wanted. Cease regressed considerably after being the AL Cy Young Award runner-up in 2022, however Kyle Bradish was the Orioles’ solely starter value extra wins above alternative. Baltimore has additionally proven a functionality of enhancing pitchers’ strike-throwing and use of their repertoires, which might assist Cease return to his ace-level kind.
Meyer: In his first 5 offseasons as Orioles normal supervisor, Mike Elias didn’t hand out a multiyear contract to a free agent. That technique, up thus far, has labored, however that streak shouldn’t prolong to 6. About 10 beginning pitchers available on the market would offer the improve Baltimore’s beginning rotation wants. Some, resembling Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Snell, the National League Cy Young front-runner, will seemingly obtain contracts the Orioles aren’t keen to pay. But others, resembling Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito and Marcus Stroman, ought to be choices Baltimore at the least takes a take a look at.
Schwartz: Ideal? Snell. But as talked about above, he’s seemingly going to be priced out of Baltimore. Realistically? Stroman makes lots of sense, as does Rodriguez. Burnes is a participant I discussed earlier than the season as match with the Orioles. Any of these guys could be an improve to what they’ve at the moment. A pitcher with postseason expertise could be icing on the cake, and of the gamers talked about, Burnes matches that profile.
Which arbitration-eligible participant presents essentially the most attention-grabbing choice?
Ruiz: Anthony Santander. The Orioles will nearly actually tender him a contract, however the intriguing half is in whether or not they maintain onto him afterward. MLB Trade Rumors initiatives Santander to make $12.7 million in his ultimate 12 months of arbitration earlier than free company, a wage that — as of now — would comfortably be the biggest Baltimore would pay in 2024. With Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad each getting a style of the majors this season, the Orioles might as an alternative depend on them within the outfield and transfer Santander, one in all baseball’s greatest switch-hitters, to enhance one other a part of the roster.
Meyer: Despite ending the common season with the AL’s greatest file, the Orioles ranked within the backside half of the league in residence runs and tenth in slugging share. No matter what he’ll be owed in arbitration and his contract standing previous 2024, a lineup with out Santander, who led the crew in residence runs and ranked second in slugging share, isn’t one able to repeating what the crew did in 2023. Ramón Urías ought to pose the Orioles’ most attention-grabbing choice. Urías is a league-average hitter with a stable glove and expertise in any respect 4 infield positions. With infield prospects Jackson Holliday, Coby Mayo, Connor Norby and Joey Ortiz all in Triple-A, might Baltimore not carry again Urías and depend on the children to fill out its infield?
Schwartz: I’ve a tough time seeing the Orioles shifting on from Santander, regardless of their prospects being blocked. He’s been their most constant hitter the previous two seasons. I agree with Jacob — it’s Urías. He’s an excellent defender and may very well be a helpful piece on the infield, however his wage seemingly exceeds what they’d need to pay for a participant in that position. He’s a advantageous plug-and-play possibility at second and third base, so it’s not as if he holds no worth.
Do the Orioles make a commerce involving one in all their prime 10 prospects?
Ruiz: No. The Orioles additionally wanted a top-of-the-rotation starter final winter and on the commerce deadline, then managed to win 101 video games regardless of by no means including one. It harm them within the postseason, however I doubt these three ALDS video games fully change the entrance workplace’s working process once they have 162 exhibiting its effectiveness. The Orioles might actually pull from their farm system in some vogue this winter to enhance the most important league roster, however I’m previous anticipating this crew to make a splash.
Meyer: No, and perhaps they shouldn’t. Most of the Orioles’ prime 10 prospects don’t make a lot sense to commerce away at this stage. Holliday, the game’s prime prospect, isn’t being traded. Cowser and Mayo, Nos. 2 and three on Baltimore’s prospect listing, based on Baseball America, have excessive ceilings and paths to on a regular basis roles in Baltimore. Kjerstad (No. 5) might simply carve himself a task in Baltimore as a left-handed-hitting designated hitter, and Ortiz (No. 6) the identical as a utility infielder. DL Hall (No. 7) has already carried out that as a high-leverage reliever. Enrique Bradfield Jr. (No. 8) was simply drafted within the first spherical 4 months in the past, and Cade Povich (No. 10) is probably one of the best beginning pitching prospect in a farm system low on pitching relative to its place participant energy.
Schwartz: Yes. They must in some unspecified time in the future, proper? It’s time they make a transfer and enhance the present roster — ideally by bolstering the rotation or including a top-tier reliever they may have shut video games whereas Félix Bautista is out following Tommy John elbow reconstruction. You can’t win 101 video games and have the AL’s greatest file and not make a transfer to enhance after their disappointing playoff exit. They aren’t going to pay somebody prime greenback, so their greatest forex is their top-rated farm system. It’s time they use a few of their financial savings to verify they continue to be atop the AL East.