28 November 2014

Three Under the Radar Free Agents the Orioles Should Pursue

As usual, the Orioles aren't expected to be in the running for the highest priced free agents available. They weren't in the running for Pablo Sandoval or Hanley Ramirez and they won't be pursuing Max Scherzer or Jon Lester. They could still bring back Nick Markakis or Nelson Cruz. They've also been mentioned as candidates to land Melky Cabrera or Nori Aoki.

But what is almost certain, based off of Dan Duquette's track record, is that he will bring in under the radar players in need of another chance, who other teams may be unwilling to take a shot on. Here's 3 players the Orioles should consider.

Photo by Keith Allison

Luke Hochevar

Hochevar missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in March. The #1 overall pick by the Royals in 2006, Hochevar struggled in his 128 starts between 2007-12. In 2013, the Royals converted him to a reliever and he thrived. His 10.49 K/9 ranked 24th among 135 qualifying relievers. He also posted a 1.92/2.96 ERA/FIP.

Steamers projects Hochevar to put up 9.41 K/9 and 2.91/3.12 ERA/FIP in 2015. He earned $5 million last season, but since he's been converted to a reliever and is coming off of Tommy John, it won't take nearly that to sign him. He would be a nice compliment to a strong Orioles bullpen that doesn't strike enough batters out.

Nolan Reimold

Despite the fact that he was let go by the team during the 2014 season, Reimold is the exact type of player Duquette would bring in. I can't imagine too many teams are lining up to give Reimold a spot on their 40-man roster, so a minor league deal with an invite to the big league camp (like Delmon Young last season) might be enough to bring Reimold aboard. While Reimold doesn't excel against LHP, the fact that he hits right-handed could prove to be an asset to a club that's 2015 OF will potentially feature left-handed hitters David Lough and Alejandro De Aza. 

The Steamers projections aren't pretty, as they have Reimold as a 76 wRC+ player next season. But if he is healthy, he could very well out-produce those projections. This would be a low-risk, depth move, so I can't really see any reason for the club not to pursue Reimold. I'd rather the Orioles hand Reimold a one year deal than give Cruz or Markakis a 4 year deal.

Jim Johnson

I would expect plenty of teams to be interested in buying low on Johnson. His history in Baltimore could prove to be a deciding factor, depending on how he feels about his time in and departure from the team. If he's open to a return, the club should pursue it. While he may never have another 50 save season, Johnson is due for a bounce back. His .366 BABIP in 2014 is way out of whack with his career. 297. His FIP of 5.08 wasn't pretty, but it suggests he was a good bit better than his 7.09 ERA. 

Johnson may be a little redundant in an Orioles bullpen that features plenty of RHP, as well as a lot of guys who don't get a lot of strikeouts. But, bringing him in gives the team added depth and flexibility, which we all know is something Duquette and Buck Showalter cherish. 

While none of these moves are going to move the fan excitement needle much, and in fact might bring some criticism, these are the exact kind of signings Duquette has shown a knack for since coming to Baltimore. All of these guys give the Orioles more depth, as well as a potential bargain, as players such as Nate McLouth and Delmon Young have previously. 


Anonymous said...

Why is Johnson due for anything? His declining velocity has caught up with him, which forces him to the edges of the strikezone. That increases walks and increases fat pitches. Playing badly after playing well does not make one due for much of anything. There has to be underlying reasons beyond single statistics. Statistics can help explain a story, but that is not done here.

Berdj Rassam said...

The Orioles are close to being a World Series quality team, and the right move or two can make a big difference.

Pat Holden said...

Yeah, this wasn't an in-depth look at Johnson, but more of a quick word on why the Orioles should look into these 3 guys.
A BABIP that high and an ERA that much about his FIP suggests that he was having some bad luck, even if he is in decline.
Also, I never claimed that playing well and then badly means a player will play well again.

Craig W. said...

Oriole fans deserve more then just a smell of the post season. After years of bringing almost nothing to the table, it's time to spend some money and fill the stadium, like the good old days

Anonymous said...

Oriole fans had more than the smell of playoffs in 2012 and 2014. they were there. Not sure why people cannot accept how great these years have been.

The Dien Thoai said...

Oriole fans deserve more then just a smell of the post season. After years of bringing almost nothing to the table, it's time to spend some money and fill the stadium, like the good old days