As we launch into the season of free agency, remember always the first rule of baseball rumors: Probably nothing will happen. Rumors are just that, rumors, and even when there's some merit to them, the simple fact is that, with thirty teams out trying to sign players, the odds of the Orioles being the team that zeroes in on a player are not great. But for now there's nothing else to talk about, so, you know. Rumors.
Today's rumor comes from ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, who's in attendance at baseball's GM meetings this week. The GM meetings are much more low-key than the winter meetings that will take place next month. Things are still discussed, people talked to, and when people are talking, there's always room for rumors:
What's it mean? Probably nothing! Alex Gordon is a player who will have a significant market for his services, since he has proven to be a solid hitter and fielder over the last five seasons. Gordon has won Gold Gloves the last four seasons, and he might make it a fifth in a row even though an injury cost him about two months of this season. Oh, and while he's been winning all of those Gold Gloves, he has also batted a combined .281/.359/.432. Not bad at all, right?
If you're not a believer in Gold Gloves alone, you might look instead at his numbers in Defensive Runs Saved, where he's had single years saving 20, 24, and 27 runs. The most recent season saw him at "only" seven runs to the positive. He's essentially performed like the outfielder that people acted like Nick Markakis was, and very much unlike Markakis, he continued to do so for multiple seasons.
The biggest strike against Gordon is probably his age. He'll be 32 at the start of next season, and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he'll receive a five year contract. In the general case, signing someone from ages 32-36 sounds like something to eschew, especially when those five years are also projected to come at a cost of $21 million per year. It's a good guess there'll be at least one problem year. Father Time remains undefeated.
For a team like the Orioles, the question would be whether the benefit in the near-term is worth more long-term risks. With Orioles left fielders collectively batting .210/.287/.353 in the 2015 season and at the very best being adequate defensively, that looks a lot like an instant, major improvement for next season and one that would be well worth the cost of giving up the #15 overall pick in the draft to make the signing. Gordon is one of the 20 qualifying offer-attached free agents.
Along with the general rule that probably nothing will happen, in the specific case of the Orioles, another good rule of thumb is that they will be linked to many players but never actually get too close to signing them. Being linked early to Gordon seems like classic Orioles. They're interested, and much like I'm interested in having ten million dollars, being interested means absolutely nothing. But if we didn't talk about them being interested then there'd be nothing to say at all, so there we have it.