Before the offseason even started, you could see it coming. Chris Davis was the team's top priority, and the Orioles (with Peter Angelos leading the charge) did everything to ensure his return. They should be commended for that, regardless of whether you think they spent too much money to bring him back. It was likely Davis or no other top free agent, and that does matter.
Still, the Orioles were not going to be able to take care of everything on their shopping list. And to be fair, that is usually the case. The Orioles don't spend enough as a mid-market team to go out and replenish their roster when players depart, and they combine that with having a disappointing farm system that is one of the worst in the majors. That makes it difficult to fill a well-rounded roster with cheap, cost-controlled players. (The Orioles have also had good teams recently, and while that's a positive, they've both dealt away some of their better prospects and dealt with injuries and haven't been able to restock their system.)
The O's have been active this offseason. They re-signed Davis and fought off the Nationals to keep Darren O'Day. They rightly extended the qualifying offer to Matt Wieters, who somewhat surprisingly accepted. They traded for Mark Trumbo and signed Hyun Soo Kim. And they've made a boatload of fringe roster moves in an effort to strike gold with one or two players. But that doesn't seem like enough. After those moves, the O's still may be the worst team in the American League East. And even if they aren't, they don't seem to be more than marginally better than any other team. Realistically, no flurry of moves would have done all that much to alter things. It's not like the Orioles were going to sign David Price, Zack Greinke, or Jason Heyward. They need to get better at developing players, in a hurry.
That brings us back to the apparent flaws of the current roster. The team's corner outfield options - Kim, Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez, Joey Rickard, Henry Urrutia - leave a lot to be desired. Kim is a nice, low-risk signing, but he's unproven in the majors and can't be considered a sure thing. Trumbo needs to be included in that mix, but he's clearly a better option at designated hitter or to spell Davis at first base. Davis could also shift to right field some, but that's probably not what the Orioles have in mind after signing him for so much money. An actual corner outfielder, preferably one who is left-handed, would be a nice addition.
And then there's the starting rotation. Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Miguel Gonzalez are all locks to start the season in the rotation. That's hardly an inspiring group. Tillman was awful last season; Gausman has showed promise but the Orioles have refused to commit to keeping him in the major league rotation until now; Jimenez was improved last season but is hardly dependable; and Gonzalez finally buckled under the pressure of outpitching his FIP (and, you know, also dealt with elbow and shoulder injuries).
That's without mentioning the upcoming, riveting battle for fifth starter duties between Vance Worley, Mike Wright, and Tyler Wilson. Names such as Mat Latos, Kyle Lohse, Tim Lincecum, Aaron Harang, Alfredo Simon, and even Jeremy Guthrie and other AAAA starters are still out there. Maybe it's best to pursue that route and hope for the best. Or maybe the Orioles will make a trade.
There are still some talented players available on the free agent market, but some are tied to draft pick compensation (including Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler). The Orioles seem set on holding on to their first-round draft pick. That probably has more to do with the money not being there for such signings; after all, the Orioles forfeited two draft picks to sign Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz just a couple years ago. And it's not like the Orioles hoard their draft picks anyway.
Right now, it seems pretty foolish that the O's weren't willing to be more flexible to sign Scott Kazmir. Not only was he not tied to draft pick compensation, but he would have filled the left-handed starter void left by Wei-Yin Chen. It's unclear whether the O's were scared off more by Kazmir's injury history or his pursuit of a contract with an opt-out, but he would have been a nice signing -- and could have been considered the team's best starting pitcher.
Teams want more good players. The Orioles aren't any different. Without much to fall back on in the minors, the O's don't have much room for error. They again need a Nate McLouth or Steve Pearce type player to surface, or at least get Miguel Gonzalez to pitch like he did from 2012-2014 or get J.J. Hardy or Tillman to somewhat return to form. (Buck Showalter has acknowledged as much, particularly about his starting pitchers, in some of his comments.) Those types of performances shouldn't be taken for granted, especially when the O's need them as much as they do. Maybe it doesn't lead to exciting offseasons, but the O's again seem like a .500 team that with the right push could again be in the playoff hunt. That's the best-case scenario for this team. The worst case? Maybe you should take a look at that rotation again.