The Orioles may not have made the biggest splash this off season but they made some quality moves. Unfortunately for O’s fans, I don’t necessarily think that the Orioles have gotten better since last season. They may have made some moves to maintain their status from last season but some things have not worked out and they aren’t quite as good as they were last season.
Off Season Review
The Orioles had an effective off season in some ways and an ineffective one in another way. They started with bringing back Matt Wieters on a qualifying offer. They really needed their star catcher back as their backup options are limited. They made some trades later in November, bringing in L.J. Hoes for cash and inviting him to spring training. In early December they got Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser for Steve Clevenger. I thought the Orioles won the trade but still, nobody great was given out to either team in that trade and it didn’t fit their needs. Riefenhauser later got claimed off waivers by the Cubs. That was very recently though.
At the non-tender deadline, they had to get rid of starting right fielder David Lough. They now had not one, but two open outfield spots unless Mark Trumbo or Nolan Reimold stepped up to start. They later signed Japanese outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim to at least take his place. They also lost prospects Junior Lake and Edgar Olmos to waivers. Lake was another outfield option!!! They were really thin now!! There went another reliever too!! However, they resigned star reliever Darren O’ Day for four years.
As January came, They traded for Odrisamer Despaigne and resigned Chris Davis long-term (seven years) in what was known as “A serious game of chicken” by MLB.com. In late free agency, a lot of rumors were flying around Baltimore, and they still are. Some of the names included Yovani Gallardo, Dexter Fowler, Tim Lincecum, Austin Jackson even Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes at one point. They signed Gallardo for two years, but Fowler went to the Cubs despite almost signing in Baltimore, Jackson went to the White Sox, Upton went to Detroit and Cespedes resigned in New York.
Lincecum is still being rumored, and the Jackson to the Sox isn’t official yet. In fact, I think Lincecum will sign with the Orioles enough that I put him on their predicted roster. The Orioles made some impact moves, but they still have some unfilled holes. They did not fulfill the opportunity they had this off season to improve. All those rumors and big name signings for a mediocre to bad team. Not ideal.
Off Season Grade: D+
Spring Training Storylines
Will the big name signings and re-signings make an impact?
Depends on if these guys have up or down seasons, hopefully for Bostonians like me, a down one. Chris Davis I still don’t think is satisfied in Baltimore. Hey, at least Yovani Gallardo and maybe Hyun-Soo Kim are good fits. They still have Adam Jones better than ever, even without his precious pie celebrations. They have some pretty good sleepers in the lineup to cover. But still no matter what this team will have holes. This might not matter.
How will the O’s fill the holes in the outfield and rotation?
Well, prospects play a big role. Miguel Gonzalez needs more attention as a strong vet that will fight for a slot in the rotation. Mike Wright, Dylan Bundy and Odrisamer Despaigne could get some spot starts. In the outfield, sure, they lost Junior Lake who was developing well but they have Dariel Alvarez, they have Nolan Reimold, Jimmy Paredes may transition to right field and then Hyun-Soo Kim will move to left.
But even with prospects, a late signing would really help, even if its only like Alex Rios, Tim Lincecum or Cliff Lee. I don’t think prospects plus what they have in the majors is going to be quite enough to fill the holes.
Who are some prospects who will be known this year?
Some of the prospects I mentioned above could be good but further down in the system, I’m liking sleep pitching prospect Andrew Triggs, who has looked alright this spring, veteran outfield spring training invitee L.J. Hoes, who returned to Baltimore this off season, and infielder Christian Walker.
Walker got some good time last year and looked ready to take over for Chris Davis, at least if Davis was still playing like he did in 2014 and Hoes got some good backup time in Houston but between their younger outfield prospects and the everyday starters, there was no room for him to shine last year. There’s a lot of potential in the O’s system. Despite a bad current team, they have future hope.
Baltimore Orioles Projected Roster
Chris Tillman Zach Britton (CL)
Yovani Gallardo Darren O’ Day
Tim Lincecum** Brad Brach
Kevin Gausman Miguel Gonzalez
Ubaldo Jimenez Brian Matusz
C: Matt Wieters Caleb Joseph
1B: Chris Davis Christian Walker
2B: Jonathan Schoop Nolan Reimold
SS: J.J. Hardy Ryan Flaherty
3B: Manny Machado
LF: Hyun-Soo Kim
CF: Adam Jones
RF: Mark Trumbo
DH: Jimmy Paredes
**If Tim Lincecum does not come to the Orioles I have Miguel Gonzalez replacing him in the rotation.
Potential candidates to fill Gonzalez’s relief role would be:
Projected Record: 74-88
That’s all for today. Check out my Boston Red Sox report tomorrow!