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Orioles offseason: $50M and 5 moves

Suppose the Orioles found $50M laying around in their couch cushions. How would you like for them to spend it?

Michael Hickey

One of the offseason endeavors of SB Nation MLB is a weekly feature where all (or many, it's voluntary) of the blogs write one post on the same topic in respect to their team.

The first of these is to imagine a world where our team has had a $50 million windfall and to use said funds to fix our team in no more than five moves.

It doesn't matter where the money came from. Maybe Peter Angelos wins another asbestos lawsuit and doubles his net worth. Maybe he had an extra $50M all along and just now decided to spend it.

Perhaps an Orioles fan won the lottery and donated the winnings to Peter Angelos with strict instructions that the money must be used on payroll.

After giving it some consideration, I've come up with four moves that I think would improve the Orioles and give them the boost they need to get back to the playoffs. It's one less move than five, but if you don't need five moves, why take five moves?

Tim Hudson - 1 year, $9 million

It's no secret that the Orioles need pitching, especially of the starting variety. Their defense is solid, their offense is good. Their pitching is lacking. Veteran Tim Hudson is on the market this winter and he could be a great addition to the rotation. Let's face it, the Orioles have a fly ball problem. Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, and Miguel Gonzalez are all fly ball pitchers, and that tends to get them into trouble in the hot Baltimore summers. Hudson is pretty much the opposite. He has a career ground ball rate of 58.5% (feel free to swoon). Less fly balls equals less home runs, and more ground balls equals more awesome plays by J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado.

Hudson's 3.97 ERA in 2013 was the highest he's had since 2006, but his FIP of 3.56 shows that he's probably not washed up yet. Even so, that 3.97 would have been higher than only Gonzalez and Tillman of pitchers who made more than one start for the Orioles.

Matt Garza - 4 years, $64 million

In reality we know that that Orioles will not sign Matt Garza. But this isn't reality, and it's nice to dream. Garza is one of the hottest commodities on the free agent market this off season, and he won't come cheap. Garza isn't the kind of pitcher who will flat out dominate, but those pitchers are few and far between and there aren't any on the market this year. But Garza is consistent. Seven straight seasons of an ERA under four and he won't turn 30 until later this month.

Garza doesn't have the ground ball tendencies that Hudson does, but with a career rate of 41.2% he induces them considerably than most Orioles starting pitchers. He also is coming off of four straight seasons of BB/9 less than 2.86. Not too shabby.

Shin-Soo Choo - 6 years, $96 million

Look, I like Nate McLouth as much as the next gal. But Choo is just a better baseball player, by a lot. His career on-base percentage is .389 and it has been over .400 in two of the past four years. The O's offense was very good in 2012, but they are lacking in guys who can just plain get on base.

Choo has been mostly a right fielder in his career, but he played mostly center field last year and there is no reason to think he couldn't handle left. And since next year could be Nick Markakis' final year as an Oriole, Choo would provide a long term solution for right field if that's the direction that the Orioles try to go.

Offensively, the biggest knock against Choo is that he can't hit lefties. And while it's true that he has next to no power against them, he also has a career .340 OBP vs left-handed pitchers. A .340 OBP is higher than every Oriole last season other than Chris Davis. And the flip side is that he mashes right-handed pitching with a career .309/.411/.521 line against them.

Omar Infante - 3 years, $24 million

This is the move I'm least happy with, but the Orioles need to address their second base problem. I don't think Brian Roberts or Ryan Flaherty is the answer, and I don't think Jonathan Schoop is ready to lay claim to the position. Infante provides reliable production at second base, something the Orioles haven't had since Brian Roberts went down with injury.

But won't he block Schoop, you ask? Well, maybe. But Schoop needs more time in the minors. If he starts knocking down the door, Infante could always be traded. Or conversely, the Orioles could trade Schoop to address another position of need.

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