The Orioles are interested in free agent outfielder Carlos Beltran, but there is a catch, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:
Sources: #Orioles interested in Beltran. Pursuit may hinge on team clearing Wieters or another high-salaried player.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 15, 2013
This does not jibe with the notion from a couple of days ago that the O's could trade Wieters in the right sort of deal because they could turn around and sign a player like Jarrod Saltalamacchia off the market to be the catcher. It's almost like the hot stove season is full of wild rumors that amount to nothing, even when those rumors are reported by the best of baseball journalists.
Beltran is a player who interests the Orioles for good reason, given that one of their needs is in the outfield. He hit .296/.339/.491, including 30 doubles and 24 home runs, in the 2013 season, keeping some power and a little speed even as a 36-year-old. Those who guess about that kind of thing put a price tag of around two years and $36 million on Beltran, and he would also cost the O's their first round draft choice in 2014.
The reference to the payroll is fascinating and also infuriating. The Orioles were recently listed as having $210 million in revenue by Bloomberg. Where does this money go if not major league payroll? Obviously, the team has other expenses, but do they have $100 million in other expenses? It's possible that they do. It's possible that the team has money to spend this offseason without clearing payroll, and Rosenthal's sources are merely other team executives who are speculating as to the situation. The O's have not been behaving like they have money as of yet.
It's also possible, if not likely, that the team has already earmarked money to spend on one or more starting pitchers from the free agent market, meaning that the pursuit of an extra item like Beltran or anyone else really would necessitate a move. On the other hand, there is the fact that every team gets an extra $25 million in revenue from the national TV contract for 2014 and beyond. Plow $20 million of that into the major league payroll and the O's should be able to do most things they want to do.
Even if the payroll constraints are accepted in trying to suss out moves the team should make, the answer is obvious. If they need money to be freed up from the 2014 payroll, they need to non-tender Jim Johnson. He is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive a whopping $10.8 million. That's a hefty bet to make on improved performance next season, and given how few innings the closer pitches, it's hard to say he's worth that kind of cash even in the best scenario.
Wieters is projected to have a $7.9 million salary. They would either need to spend money to replace him or rely on a cheap backup who would probably not perform even at the level Wieters did in 2013.
That the Orioles would need to get rid of a player to sign someone on the free agent market makes no sense. That Wieters should be that player also makes no sense. If they have budget room to sign one player even if they get rid of someone, that it would be Beltran makes no sense. Welcome to November.
What do you think? Do the Orioles have any reason to be crying poor? If they are, for whatever reason, limited in payroll, how would you want to see them free up salary? If they could only get one player, who would you want?