13 March 2018

Are The Orioles Done?

The top group of available starting pitchers is now down to just one: Alex Cobb. Jake Arrieta is heading to the Phillies on a three-year deal, and Lance Lynn signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins. While Arrieta is still going to make a lot of money, he's getting significantly less than what was anticipated.

Lynn, meanwhile, joins some good, mid-tier players who recently decided to accept one-year contracts. Carlos Gonzalez signed for $8 million. Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Moustakas, and Logan Morrison signed for $6.5 million each (which is weird). And yesterday, Neil Walker signed for $5 million.

Lynn isn't the only notable starting pitcher to sign a one-year deal this offseason. Here are some others:
  • Jaime Garcia, $10 million
  • CC Sabathia, $10 million
  • Michael Fiers, $6 million
  • Doug Fister, $4 million
  • Miguel Gonzalez, $4.75 million
  • Francisco Liriano, $4 million
  • Chris Tillman, $3 million
  • Anibal Sanchez, $2.5 million (released after the Twins signed Lynn)
  • Yovani Gallardo, $2 million
There are more, and a lot of minor league signings, obviously, but this list will work. Out of everyone noted above, the O's signed one player: Tillman. This despite having interest in nearly all of them (except for maybe Lucroy, Morrison, and Gallardo). 

The Orioles needed (and still need) starting rotation help. They could use another left-handed bat -- like Walker's! And the O's are well-known bargain hunters. And yet, despite their needs, the O's didn't pounce on any of these pitchers except for Tillman. They also must not have tried hard enough for Walker, who signed with the Yankees.

As with most things O's related, there are more questions than answers. Why isn't there more payroll room? Are the O's really doing all they can to win now? How can they rely on Mike Wright or a Rule 5 pick and say they're trying to win? How does adding Andrew Cashner, Tillman, and Colby Rasmus qualify as reloading?

It's not surprising that some pitchers would choose another club's one-year deal over the Orioles'. The American League East can be daunting, and someone like Tillman had limited options to fall back on, unlike Lynn. Still, Garcia joined the AL East anyway. I wonder how the Blue Jays did that!

Here we are yet again. The Orioles limit themselves in free agency by focusing on pitchers on short-term deals, and then it's a huge surprise when their offers, which many times include lower amounts and more deferred money, are spurned. (Tillman's deal even includes deferred money for "some earned performance bonuses," per Cot's.)

The Orioles refuse to spend big on starters and won't spend much internationally to supplement their farm system, so they have to rely on short-term deals, trades, and the draft (and Rule 5 draft). The O's didn't make any trades, and no other draft pick can really help them at this moment unless Hunter Harvey flourishes if he's rushed to the majors or Nestor Cortes quickly puts it all together. That's why it was fortunate that many pitchers received affordable, short-term contracts this offseason. That meant more chances and less risk.

Cobb is out there and would make a lot of sense for the O's, but Cashner may still wind up as the team's big-ticket item this offseason. Maybe you're not sold on Garcia, Fiers, Fister, and Miguel Gonzalez. Maybe you don't like Walker or don't think he'd be a fit on the O's this year. But the O's had interest in all of them for the right price -- and then they all signed for less than many thought.

What is the right price for the Orioles? What is a significant enough discount? Why not spend more to improve the rotation or bench and improve this year's chances? Even if they added Cobb or Lynn, the 2018 payroll would still be well below that of 2017.

The O's might not be done this offseason, but it seems like it. Cobb is no savior, but he'd assist an underwhelming rotation. If the O's have been waiting to act, this is a good time to nab a useful player. If they don't, well, then they'll have even more explaining to do for a truly bizarre offseason.


Unknown said...

Peter Angelos has always been a meddling owner. I’d hate to be that guys gm.

Anonymous said...

If they do sign Cobb by some miracle then the offseason doesn't look so bad and actually looks kind of like what many of us recommended back in November. Cobb, Cashner, Tillman, and Rasmus pretty much is as much as any of us expected or thought could happen. I would have preferred Garcia to Cashner because he's a lefty but Cashner may have more upside. We still need a decent UTIL and no one currently really fits the bill (how about bringing Hardy back?). If the O's could nab Jake Cave off the waiver wire then he might actually be a future player especially if Rasmus tanks. He sure would be better than expecting anything more out of Rickard.

Jon Shepherd said...

Adding Cobb makes it a bit of a blue light special version of the blueprint. Basically we insisted on two quality SP and a strong, versatile LH OF option. Cobb is a quality SP and Rasmus is a bit of a gamble as that LH OF option. I think the club would still able about 4 wins or so under what the blueprint would have envisioned.

Matt Kremnitzer said...

Yes, Roger, that's fair, even if I think the O's could do more.

Still, this offseason hasn't just been about adding players. The O's were steadfast in not trading Machado... and then they were open to it before refusing to deal him again. Duquette seems to have lost power, and of him and Showalter, Duquette is the least likely to return. He's had to answer a lot of questions about ownership, seemingly more than usual. There's also the question of why the Orioles are working with a lower payroll.

It's hard to argue that adding Cobb to Bundy/Gausman/Cashner/Tillman wouldn't look decent. Not great, but decent, and sometimes decent is enough.

Pip said...

I wonder if we're going to sign Annibal Sanchez. When the new pitcher acquisition was announced a few minutes ago( someone with control problems from the Marlins) I fully expected it was Sanchez.
It wasn't, but the day isn't over yet.

Unknown said...

The O's are finished with off season moves.

It's time to play ball and let the chips fall where they may.

Rob said...

I wonder if they'd be willing to DFA Trumbo to give them more lineup flexibility.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I think Rasmus might actually be better than Jay - maybe Dyson too. Less speed and def but more power and offense. Jake Cave would double that.

Matt, if the lineup turns out as good as it's been looking so far then "decent" should be pretty good. FG predicts the lineup at 18.9 WAR. Another tic up in the OF or DH would make for a potent offense (maybe Mancini could field better and Rasmus hit better and Trumbo actually succeed at DH?). The pitching is at 11.0. Adding a 2 WAR pitcher like Cobb could be would make the pitching 13.0 and that would be "decent". 32-33 WAR gets you close to WC contention.

Honestly, moving Trumbo (or Davis, lordy) for Cave/Hays/Santander/someone with more upside is getting more and more urgent.