Quick Thoughts On The Potential Of The Orioles Off-Season
The Orioles say they are willing to listen to offers for closer Jim Johnson, who is set to make more than $10m in arbitration in ’14.
On the heels of this tweet by Buster Olney and the growing need of Baltimore fans for some movement from their front office, I figured I’d offer up my opinion on what I think will turn out to be a pretty unproductive off-season for the O’s.
First of all, Jim Johnson is getting traded. For better or worse, they can’t afford to have a $10 million dollar closer whose arm may fall off soon due to the ridiculous innings he’s logged over the past few years. What they’ll get for him, I’m not sure, but if I was Dan Duquette, I’d be calling every team with a need at closer and selling them on the last two years that this guy has had. I imagine just not having to pay $10 million dollars for a closer will be incentive enough to move him.
The unfortunate situation that the Orioles are in is that two of their better players, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis, are a year away from free agency and both are Scott Boras clients. What that means is that unless the players themselves are feeling loyal to the O’s, they going to reach free agency and more than likely leave Baltimore. What should they do?
Will Chris Davis and Matt Wieters be in Baltimore long term?
Keep and re-sign Wieters. This might cost them a bit more than they’d like, but remember, much like Joe Mauer has done in Minnesota, Wieters could eventually move to first base when his knees have had enough. Something along the lines of what Brian McCann just got may be enough to entice Wieters to stick around. Plus, having a top tier catcher can make such a difference when you’re dealing with a young pitching staff (see Yadier Molina.)
Quietly put the feelers out on Chris Davis. He’s going to cost a ton, but a big market team with a first base need could be swayed in my opinion. The Yankees, Nationals, Red Sox are just a few teams that could use a first baseman (moving forward) with some pop. I doubt they find a deal they like, but if someone were to be willing to part with some quality prospects, I might make the deal. I think Davis is a fantastic player but he’s going to cost close to $20 million per year when he hits free agency and the O’s probably can’t afford that. Getting two years of Davis at a price below market value has got to be worth something.
Via Cots Contracts – The O’s salary obligations after 2014 are very positive. Markakis comes off the books, Jim Johnson will most likely be gone, Hardy will be a free agent and Davis and Wieters will be one year away from free agency. The problem is that the forecast for the 2015 free agent class is weak. There’s not going to be a lot of big names and the O’s will need a ton of help at that point.
The cloud above all of this is Owner Peter Angelos and his unwavering stance on payroll. I imagine the O’s have just about maxed out on what they can spend (about $92 million last year) and trying to add pieces without taking on more payroll is going to be tough.
Dan Duquette has his work cut out for him any way you slice it. As I’ve said before, the Orioles should be either going all in or beginning to build for the future. Last year they did neither and it ended in a season that was successful but without playoffs. That’s just not good enough, especially in the AL East.
P.S. I know they’ve got two years left with Davis and Wieters. If they go all in, they need to address LF, 2B and SP. I’ll be back later this winter to size up what they need to do to be successful.