13 January 2014

Is It Too Early to Give Up on the Orioles' Offseason?

Other than Ryan Webb, the Orioles have sat out the whole signing free agents part of the offseason so far. Many of the top MLB free agents have been signed -- especially ones who would have been great fits for the Orioles -- but there are still plenty of names out there. Here are players left in the top 100 of Hardball Talk's list of top 2014 free agents:

2b. Masahiro Tanaka
4. Matt Garza
5. Ervin Santana
6. Ubaldo Jimenez
11. A.J. Burnett
12. Nelson Cruz
15. Stephen Drew
16. Bronson Arroyo
22. Kendrys Morales
28. Grant Balfour
32. Paul Maholm
36. Fernando Rodney
40. Suk-min Yoon
44. Scott Baker
60. Jason Hammel
61. Bruce Chen
62. Francisco Rodriguez
64. Jake Westbrook
65. Chris Capuano
66. Carlos Marmol
73. Michael Young
74. Joe Saunders
76. Chad Gaudin
77. Mark Reynolds
83. Eric O'Flaherty
87. Joel Hanrahan
89. Oliver Perez
91b. Jerome Williams
99. John Buck

Yes, 100 is an arbitrary place to stop and there are other players outside the Tanaka-Buck range who the Orioles could sign and could be helpful. But the above list is a good reminder of the kind of talent that remains on the market (some good; some not so good). Still, the Orioles won't be going after the top four names above, mostly because of the contract years and money such deals will require (the O's do not give pitchers deals beyond three years). That's a shame, particularly in the case of Tanaka.

The Orioles have been linked to a good number of the above free agents: Burnett, Cruz, Arroyo, Morales, Balfour (oh, right), Rodney, Hammel, Chen, and Rodriguez (others, too, probably). Any back-end rotation option, bench bat, or reliever (bonus points for being a Proven Closer) could be a fit.

I've been underwhelmed with the Orioles' offseason up to this point. It's hard not to be, and I'm sure most fans probably feel that way. A good majority of them are blaming Peter Angelos for the team's inactivity. I figured the Orioles would show more interest in upgrading the roster via free agency -- maybe not with Robinson Cano or Jacoby Ellsbury, but potentially with Shin-Soo Choo, Bartolo Colon, Dan Haren, Scott Feldman, or Josh Johnson, etc. But that didn't happen, and it doesn't necessarily look like the Orioles will be major players for any of the remaining top names. But there's a chance they will be, and maybe, just maybe, the Orioles are doing their best to sit back, be patient, and then sign a couple pieces when they deem the timing to be right. Perhaps that's the optimist's view of the current situation, but it's possible.

There will be plenty of time to criticize the Orioles' front office if they basically do nothing else except sign fringe major leaguers, looking and hoping to bring aboard the next Nate McLouth (unless you think David Lough is that guy). They've been raked over the coals nationally, both for not adding anyone notable to a solid core of players, and also for the Balfour mess. But making a move or signing someone just to do it is never really sound strategy, and there are players remaining that would improve the team's roster. I doubt this offseason has gone according to plan for Dan Duquette, but there's time to make it look at least a bit better.


Anonymous said...

No. Whatever credibility the Os had built up over the past couple of years was completely destroyed by the Balfour fiasco. As long as Angelos owns the time (and likely for years after) no free agent with other options is going to sign with the Os unless given a significant premium over market value. And, of course, as long as Angelos owns the Os (MLBs most profitable team last year per Forbes!) they won't pay any such premium.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

I get the outrage, but I'm not sure that's quite right. The Balfour thing looks bad, sure, but it's not like another team swooped in to immediately sign him. Balfour is still available. I'd be shocked if he got two guaranteed years now, but I'm sure there's still a chance of that happening.

Anonymous said...

Looks like their is gonna be vindication for the balfour mess, and The Orioles will look smart in not throwing away money for an IR pitcher.

Unknown said...

I'm not ready to give up on the Orioles off season. I think that there's time to sign a closer (my guess, Rodney) and I'd wager they'll sign one more bat (nothing huge...like Cruz, I'd guess Morales and that's it). I like getting Lough, he fits the Orioles mold of defense first. And he had SOME pop in KC. Valencia didn't have a slot or a future. Perhaps I'm looking through orange-tinted glasses here, but I'm not willing to throw in the towel on their offseason just yet.

Unknown said...

It's been a little disappointing to not see them do anything, but if this team contends for the division title and wins a wild card (feel like WINNING the division is probably asking too much...) nobody's going to care who they didn't sign. It's also nice to see them (smartly) not overpay to keep replaceable players (Mclouth, Johnson). I think the team had 3 major problems last year with the roster: 1) No solid DH option 2)Weak-ish starting rotation 3)No good relief players that could give the stars a break...Davis, Jones, Machado, Hardy, Wieters all played too many games. I think the guys they've signed have started addressing #3, and I could see the team's philosophy being that they don't need a DH...but its hard to ignore the lack of pitching and how it has not been addressed. I dont care about the closer...use Hunter. I think TOO much attention has been spent on that. I have to think they have their eyes one of the starters still available.

CBreezyThreezy said...

As has been mentioned by the great author of this blog, Hunter's split is horrible and he gives up so many jacks. ESPN is now reporting that we are done looking for a closer and will fill the position internally. What?!

I was very impressed by Hunter last year in relief. He was solid, it seemed like his fastball had more life and was even a few MPHs higher than I remembered it being. So is it closer by committee now? How can you trot Hunter out there with a few lefties coming up?

Anonymous said...

As long as Angelos is alive, there ain't no such thing as an Orioles offseason.

There. I said it.

Chito Martinez said...

I wish all the O's fans crying about their lack of activity would outline the actual moves they'd have made in Duq's shoes.

Webb and Lough look like savvy acquisitions. It doesn't thrill me that they signed a jerk like Delmon, but it's not a terrible baseball move.

I doubt Tanaka and Cano would've come to Baltimore even if the money was competitive.

The Balfour "mess" seems more overblown by the day--in the end he may need to thank the O's for not publicizing what was wrong with his medicals.

For me, the only big miss so far is Bartolo. A quality veteran for only 1 yr./$10 million would be a good buffer for their young pitching. I'd still like to see them woo Burnett out of retirement, but I guess I wouldn't complain if they got Arroyo for less than 3 years. I'd love to see them land Rodney, too, but I can't blame them for not wanting to pay $10 million for a closer.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

"I doubt Tanaka and Cano would've come to Baltimore even if the money was competitive."

I don't agree with that. People didn't think Cano would actually leave New York for Seattle, but he did. Because of the money.

As for outlining the actual moves we'd make, we already wrote an entire series of posts dedicated to that topic (under the "Making the Orioles a Champion in 2014" headline).

We've been pretty patient so far, and we haven't overreacted to the O's offseason so far. We also did not overreact to the Balfour news, and for the most part don't have a problem with it, even if it was unconventional and still doesn't look great publicly.

Anonymous said...

We were season ticket holders for 12 years (until 2002). We finally agreed that Angelos was the cheapest guy in town. Three years ago we thought that he had changed. We liked how the O's were heading and we are again season tickets holders (since 2012). But if he proves again that he is still the cheapest guy in town this may be our last. Time will tell. They are only a couple of players away.

Anonymous said...

The stars and scrubs concept that Duquette is going for only works if you can actually land those better than replacement players to fill out the roster. So far, the Orioles haven't even done that for the holes in the roster.

Anonymous said...

Well now that they have sign Davis,Hunter and the others , they now should know what they can spend for one or two more players.