16 October 2013

Arrivals and Departures 40 Man Update: Impending Free Agents and Notables Out of Options

A roster is a lot like an onion.  It has layers.  Or maybe not.  It does have different groupings.  One could classify players as 0-3 year guys, arbitration controlled, impending free agents, and contracted.  Additionally, you can add another layer of groupings noting individuals as being option eligible and option ineligible.  All of these classifications can greatly impact how much flexibility a team has with their active (25 man) and 40 man roster.

The two classifications that garner my attention at the moment are: (1) impending free agents and (2) out of options.

Impending Free Agents
A quarter of the 40 man roster is scheduled to depart the Orioles.  This is a pretty massive departure.  Arguably, only four of these players are major losses.  Feldman, Hammel, Roberts, and McLouth were depended on for major contributions.  It has been expected that the Orioles will make some effort to retain Feldman, Roberts, and McLouth among this group.  No attempt is expected to retain any of the other remaining players.

Scott Feldman
At the end of the season, it was mentioned that the Orioles wish to resign Feldman.  Feldman is a respectable starter.  A player you can likely depend on to give you maybe 180 innings at a level of performance desirable in the fourth starter on a first division team.  There has been some concern as his velocity decreased once joining the Orioles.  Fastball velocity is not exactly a major contributor to Feldman's success, but it does raise a question whether he tired out or may have some issue related to his previous knee problems.

Brian Roberts
After three seasons of injuries and poor play, Roberts came back to perform...respectably.  A second baseman at the age of 35 tends not to set expectations high.  One at 36, well, those expectations do not change too much.  Roberts might be a good role player on this squad, but any expectation of him as a 140 game or more starter is a bit too optimistic.  Any expectation of him being a major component of this team in 2014 is also a bit too optimistic.  With a 12 or 13 man pen, a part time 2B and weak designated hitter might not be the best use of a roster spot.

Nate McLouth
Last offseason, I questioned McLouth's worth to this team, which was backed up by him securing a 2 MM deal.  His first half led me to question my own view as he transformed himself into a light hitting groundball and line drive hitter.  It made him a much better player as his batting average and on base percentage soared.  He also was showing an ability to be something more than a platoon player.  However, the second half of the year saw him getting back to his old style, lofting the ball.  His ISO jumped up, but everything else fell apart.  Still, he can hold down left field.  If he can be paired with a platoon, he would be a solid option against right handed pitcher.

Notable Option Ineligibles
All of these players are on the edge of the 25 man roster.  They either will need to make the opening day roster at the end of Spring Training or the Orioles need to find someway to hopefully get something of value for them.  For most of them, they simply are worth nothing in a deal and stand a good chance of being designated for assignment once the off season officially begins.

Normally, Tommy Hunter and Troy Patton would be obvious keepers going into the 2014 season.  However, with rumors swirling about the team wanting to open up payroll by dealing Brian Matusz, it makes one think that individuals like Hunter and Patton may be considered replaceable and not worth the 3 MM and 1.5 MM they will see, respectively.  Some might consider that overly penny-wise, but it is difficult to determine the quality of such a potential move given that we do not know the overall plan of the off season.

Among the remaining players, non-arbitration individuals like Britton, Stinson, Valencia, and Dickerson might have a better shot sticking in the short term with the club than Pearce or Reimold.  Pearce performed very well for the Orioles this past season when healthy and was a solid bat off the bench for the club.  He also gives the team some flexibility because he is capable of standing in every defensive corner.  Reimold is full of possibility and misfortune.  He still has plus power and still has a good arm that makes one think he could be a solid corner outfielder.  However, the past couple years have been brutal for him with injuries.  For a team looking to squeeze into a payroll, taking a million or two on Reimold as a lottery ticket might be a poor bet to make.

Below is the updated 40 man roster.

Orioles 40 Man Roster as of 10/10/2013


LarryMcVA said...

Watching the pitching rotation in the playoffs is making it clear that the Orioles are not on that level.

Not sure if Hamell, Feldman will ever be strong starters. Wada's stats at Norfolk for 102 innings last year were not encouraging.

I would consider replacing them with Gausman, Hunter and using Zach Britton in relief until he proves himself. Mike Wright in Bowie might also be used in relief to get his MLB bearings.

Unknown said...

Two observations:

1. I wouldn't be shocked if the Orioles bring back Chris Snyder and Dan Johnson on minor-league contracts with invites to spring training. The Orioles seem to like Snyder a lot and Johnson may decide that Norfolk's not a bad place to play.

2. I wouldn't be shocked if the Orioles decide to drop Josh Stinson from the 40-man in the offseason if they need a roster spot.

Triple R said...

Resigning Feldman would help, but it doesn't need to be a priority. The O's already have two #3 starters in Tillman and Norris (in the case of the latter, that's if you believe his improved peripherals with Baltimore were for real); they also have two #4 starters in Gonzo and Chen. The way I see it, that's basically as good as having #2 through #5 starters. If KG can pitch down to his incredible peripherals, he could easily be a #1, and all of a sudden this is a pretty solid rotation.

Jon Shepherd said...

I realize that everyone knows this, but I will just restate it. Expecting Bundy or Gausman to be ace pitchers is an expectation within the realm of reason. However, they have maybe a 15-20% chance of maybe achieving consistent 2 slot status...maybe 5% being an ace. There are really just a handful of consistent aces in baseball.

Philip said...

So was the Wada saga just wasted money?

Triple R said...

Let's say, pessimistically speaking, that Gausman isn't (immediately) a #1. He's still a #3 at worst--a 5.66 ERA with a 3.15 SIERA might be sustained over 47.2 innings, but once you get up to 170-180 innings, a little positive regression's gonna come.

With that said, though, the Orioles then would have (again, pessimistically speaking) three #3s and two #4s, which is basically the same as a #2 through #5 and an extra #3. That's not great, but with the offense and defense that they have, it's definitely good enough.

The main reason why the Orioles didn't make the playoffs was consistency from their starters. If they can just get, say, a combined ERA around league-average (~4.00 to 4.10 for starters), they're playing in October.

Jon Shepherd said...

@Phillip - Well, if your assessment cannot distinguish between Chen and Wada then Wada not amounting to anything MLB-wise means he certainly was worth it. Spilling 8MM a year for Chen is still surplus value. Now, if you can discern differences between them (which I think is true) then Wada was a waste of money...which is exactly what we said when the signings were announced. That said, I never had any inkling Wada would get injured...just that he would not be effective.

Jon Shepherd said...

@ Triple R - Well, 47.2 innings of FIP, xFIP, SIERA, ERA, or RA is not enough to confidently indicate a talent level. There simply is not enough innings to establish that for any of the metrics and all of those metrics can be troublesome due to luck, context, whatever.

Another issue I see is past performance does not ensure future performance. Otherwise, we all would have been quite happy with Jason Hammel this past year. We also should be reminded how promising Jake Arrieta has always looked, but never quite performed over the long term. At times, I think when projecting there is a natural bias towards hope and that shades attention to specific stats when the basis for their use is not strong.

Do I think Gausman is capable of being a good pitcher? Yes. I think we will see someone who is an excellent bullpen arm and a back end arm with the potential to be a #2. I think he is a bit too platoon oriented to come across as a #1.

Triple R said...

Is there another definition to "platoon" of which I am not aware? Gausman has a .335 wOBA against righties and a .347 wOBA against lefties--not very good, but at least fairly even.

And yes, I know about TINSTAAPP and all that, and that we should temper out expectations. I am simply choosing, after 15-odd years of going with the pessimistic projection, to try optimism for once. Perhaps, this will be the year when the optimistic are rewarded.

Jon Shepherd said...

Well, I think you would find yourself hard pressed to make much of a statement on Gausman's platoon status on 47.2 IP with many as a relief pitcher simply based on statistics. I think based on our eyes we can see his slider is still developing and not quite an MLB level pitch. His difficulty with more advanced minor leaguers as a starter indicated this and we saw flashes of this as well when he started a few games for this club.

There are a lot of good reasons and some empirical evidence to suggest that the slider will impact him and create some difficulties.

Second, one should try not to be pessimistic or optimistic just try to figure out what is realistic. A team built off best probable cases is a pretty big longshot.

Third, TINSTAAP is a bit hyperbole. If true, we would have no idea who the best pitching prospects are, but we pretty much do. Not as well as hitting prospects, but pretty close. TINSTAAP, like OPS, should have been retired 10 years ago, but, alas, we all have it stuck in our vocabulary.