23 October 2017

Blueprint For The 2018 Orioles (Option #6): DJ Play My Song

Once the Orioles stop playing, we begin playing around with the roster and look toward the next year.  The Depot's Blueprint Series tries to take a well focused look as to what the potential solutions are to what ails the club.  A subset of our writers take part in this exercise and we invite our readership to submit their own ideas.

Below is our second reader submission.  I have edited it for clarity.  If I have been too extreme with my editorial skills, we will surely see the author complain in the comments. Our second submission is from S.L. Siler.


For this exercise, I’m buying out JJ Hardy and Wade Miley. Miley makes you think a little because of the lack of dependable starting pitching on the roster and the fact that outside of the control issues he was ok. He missed bats as well as ever and his velocity was also as good as it ever was. There are likely better options for the 11.5 million difference between the option salary and the buyout.

I’m tendering contracts to all of the arbitration eligible players. All of these are pretty straightforward
decisions, although lingering injury issues do make Zach Britton’s salary a bit concerning.

So now we get to pre-arbitration players already on the team. I’m going with a youth movement here. Dylan Bundy is obvious. Trey Mancini, Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens will be on the team as well, no surprise. Gabriel Ynoa is the #5 starter. Anthony Santander needs to at least start the season on the club, so here’s there as well. Now for the fun part, Tanner Scott is the second lefty in the bullpen (Bleier is AAA depth). Chance Sisco is a platoon catcher along with Joseph. Austin Hays is in RF except and will fill in at CF when Jones is taking routine rest days. DJ Stewart is a part-time LF, playing against most righties (Joey Rickard is AAA depth) . On days Stewart is playing, Mancini will be at DH or 1B and Chris Davis or Mark Trumbo will get the day off. Lucas Long is the first man up in AAA to spot start or eat innings in relief.

Payroll Remaining: 37.62 million

I didn’t leave too many holes but we still need two starting pitchers, a reliever, and a utility infield. Fortunately there are some excellent options in my price range.

Starting Pitchers
Tyler Chatwood 10.47/year, 4 years
Alex Cobb 10.36/year, 3 years

Juan Niscasio 7/year, 3 years

Utility Infielder
Eric Sogard 9.5/year, 2 years

I think this creates a stronger 25 man roster top to bottom than 2017. Alex Cobb and Tyler Chatwood are clear upgrades to Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley. Chatwood saw a velocity spike last season and could be coming into his own as he further distances himself from Tommy John surgery. Plus at 28, he’s one of the youngest free agent options available. Cobb had a good season and will also be further removed from injury. Gabriel Ynoa still needs to develop his change-up as more than just a show-me pitch, but the mid-90’s fastball with life and slider combo will play. He doesn’t have to do much to be a major improvement over the ghost of Chris Tillman (who was allowed to pitch most of the season with a changed arm slot and reduced spin rate for some reason).

The bullpen is a real strength if Zach Britton recovers anything near his old form. The addition of Juan Nicasio who has been excellent since has move to the bullpen, allows Buck to use Darren O’Day as a RH specialist (his best role). Tanner Scott can be eased into the Majors as a LOOGY/mop-up guy. Miguel Castro is your long man/jack of all trades.

As for the position players, one of the things I tried to achieve is the ability to give guys more rest. Adam Jones at this point needs a game off a week at least. Hays can play CF in those games. When Jones is playing, Hays and Santander can split RF starts. When Hays is on the bench he can be a late inning defensive replacement in any OF position (I think he’s better defensively than Jones at this point). 

In LF, my goal is to not have Mancini play out there most of the time. He was better than expected, but his arm is weak (albeit accurate), and his speed limits his ceiling there. DJ Stewart is not a name on the lips of most Orioles fans, but the former first round pick is living up to his draft status after a rough year or two. Without doing a full prospect write-up, I’ll make a quick case for him. Stewart had a weird, crouched batting stance when drafted that most scout thought wouldn’t play against pro competition. Either he resisted changing it or the Orioles let him keep it and he struggled. He wasn’t getting to any power with the wood bat. In 2016 he bought into a change and by mid-season this year he finally got comfortable with a new batting stance (he said in an interview that he finally could have an AB where he wasn’t thinking about cues for his stance). He had an .859 OPS this season in Bowie, and added 20 steals while only getting caught 4 times. He hit righties to the turn of a .892 OPS and had a .952 OPS after the all-star break. He has the most advanced approach at the plate of all the Orioles’ prospects and while he’s not a defensive whiz, he was much better this season and scored high marks with Clay Davenport and Baseball Prospectus’ MILB defensive metrics. DJ Stewart can play LF against RH pitchers and allow for rotating off days for Trumbo, Davis, and Mancini. 

Having a solid utility option like Eric Sogard will allow for Manny, Schoop, and Beckham to get rest when needed. Sogard plays a great 2B, a solid third, and can fake it at SS. He brings a different type of bat to the Orioles line-up. He had the lowest swinging strike rate in the majors last year at 3.3%. He only swung at pitches outside of the strike zone 18.5% of the time, a significant plate discipline improvement from previous seasons, leading me to believe that he can replicate his strong 2017 campaign. The reduction in swings at bad pitches also led to his highest line drive% and highest hard hit% of his career.

In conclusion, the team gets much younger without punting 2018. The line-up will benefit from the additions of OBP guys Sisco, Stewart, and Sogard. The bullpen will be deeper and throw harder with the additions of Nicasio and Scott. The rotation adds a solidifying third starter, and a young fourth starter with great velocity and some upside. The outfield defense improves with no Smith, no OF appearances for Trumbo, and less Mancini.


Anonymous said...

This is excellent as a thought project but sounds more like a plan for 2019 if Machado leaves. Most of those kids are not ready yet (Santander and Scott are not exactly tearing up the AFL). Stewart, because of his awkward procession though the system, needs some AAA seasoning. Buying Nicasio as a RP, again, leaves no LH SP and that won't fly. Although, I'd rather see 5 quality RH SPs than throw a bozo LH in there. And, also, making Trumbo a full time DH is not a solution since he doesn't hit when he's not playing the field. I think there is a possibility the O's can be competitive without any sort of total rebuild. A playoff team will play one or two key rookies every year or several rookies in low leverage positions but will not play a lot of youngsters in key positions - too much risk. Going full blown youth, is taking a more risky position than the O's will likely be willing to do. Maybe with more legitimate talent in AAA, it might be possible but the O's are not there as far as upper level talent goes.

Pip said...

Is Sogard worth hat much more than just bringing Flaherty back cheaply?
Flaherty doesn't hit for average at all but he does have power and has been very steady all around the infield.
If money is an issue, he could be had for almost nothing, unless Sogard is really worth almost ten million dollars.
No argument with anything here, though. I think it's a good plan, but Chatwood is going to sign very quickly( and Dan doesn't work quickly) and he will almost certainly make more than we want to pay.

btwrestler119 said...

If Trumbo doesn’t hit, he doesn’t play in my world. He sure as hell can’t field, he eats up all the value that he creates with the bat. If you really think the Trumbo fielding thing matters, then he could play 1B and Davis can DH.

btwrestler119 said...

Well it was clear this season that the regulars wore down and a guy like Sogard who is good enough to play everyday, really let’s you rest players much more than has been done the last 2 seasons. Sogard also brings a different skill set that would help the team, he has a great approach at the plate and rarely swings and misses. I’d imagine Sogard getting 400+ AB so he’d be used as more than a pure utility.

Unknown said...

9.5 mill for a utility guy with no power? He should be so lucky!

Unknown said...

We can have Wilkerson as util for 550,000.

Anonymous said...

BT, last year I said that Trumbo should play 1B and Davis should play RF (until they got Seth) and Mancini should play DH. The O's never went for that. Buck will not take Davis off of first because of his perceived fielding prowess there even if a total of Davis1B/TrumboRF is worse overall than the other way around. It just ain't gonna happen no matter how much we think it should. If we ever want to improve OF defense then Trumbo has to be traded to make space for a better defender (Dyson??? Hays??). The best way out is for the O's to work a trade for another bad contract such as Kemp. With Kemp, the O's would get a high functioning full time DH (a RH Papi) and can play someone else in the field. Of course, the O's would have to waive the medical for Kemp.

btwrestler119 said...

Sogard ended up resigning for about 1/4 including incentives.