That said, it is difficult not to notice around the AL East and see that each club is making significant additions. The Yankees took on the formidable, but morally conflicting, Aroldis Chapman. Boston decided to deal away near can't miss elite prospects in order to have and hold Chris Sale for three years. The Blue Jays went to town with a Steve Pearce signing. The Rays perhaps signed their greatest catcher ever in Wilson Ramos. All were attached to other sizable moves that have yet to come to fruition.
For the Orioles, the rumor mill has circled the drain with fringe catchers in Nick Hundley and Welington Castillo and slightly splashier names in Michael Saunders and Ian Desmond. That last one died a quick death as the Colorado Rockies signed Desmond to presumably and confusingly play first base. The Orioles came out of the meetings with largely the same questions as they entered. Who catches? Who plays right field? And, perhaps, how does the pen get stronger?
Right field may have been answered with the Rule 5 acquisition of Anuery Tavarez, a 25yo left handed right fielder who had a cup of coffee in AAA last year. He has largely existed outside of the world of prospect consideration, but showed a high contact rate, good speed, fringe power, and dependable defense. Performance wise, he ended the year on a blistering pace while dominating right handed pitching in AA. In an idea world, one could perhaps squint and see him as a dominant side platoon with Joey Rickard in right field. However, be sure to take a breath because his breakout season last year was largely tied to a .381 BABIP.
More confusingly, the Orioles made a second selection in the Rule 5 by taking Cleveland's Anthony Santander. Santander is raw. Santander is not a right fielder. Just 22, Santander has always had imposing power and a troubling injury history. It appeared that he escaped the injury demon this year, but went under the knife to fix a shoulder injury in his throwing arm, which may sideline him into the year and perhaps make him fall under Rule 5 active roster rules in 2018 as well.
Anyway, what once appeared to be a fringe defense right fielder has slid down the defensive spectrum to appear more like a first baseman with a very promising bat. 2016 saw him break out big with .204 ISO and a healthy 20 home run, 290/368/494 line in single A. The basic word from scouts was that they would like to have him in their organization, but where do you keep him on an MLB roster and, especially, a playoff contending roster.
As we move forward, it is difficult to conclude that the club has answered any questions yet. It is also difficult to conclude that the rumored additions the club is planning will make this team better than it was in 2016. As we move into the middle of the offseason, a creeping awareness of the 2019 season is looming larger and larger. The club as is really has not been constructed to be viable after 2018. Contract status, free agent cost, and a dearth of talent in the minors really puts forward the importance of the next two years. Perhaps, that is better left said a little further down the line though.
Below is the current 40 man roster with 37 out of 40 positions filled.
|Yovani Gallardo||5+ Service|
|Ubaldo Jimenez||5+ Service|
|Wade Miley||5+ Service|
|Darren O'Day||5+ Service|
|Chris Tillman||5+ Service|
|Chris Davis||5+ Service|
|Ryan Flaherty||5+ Service|
|J.J. Hardy||5+ Service|
|Adam Jones||5+ Service|
|Hyun Soo Kim||Player Approval|
|Anthony Santander||Rule 5|
|Anuery Tavarez||Rule 5|