On December 2nd, 2015 the Orioles acquired Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser from the Mariners in exchange for Steve Clevenger. This deal turned out to be a fantastic one for the Orioles. Trumbo led the majors in home runs with 47 and anchored the Orioles powerful, if not always potent, offense. His overall value (1.6 bWAR and 2.2 fWAR) was not spectacular—defense matters kids—but he more than made up for it with his affordable contract.
The reason Trumbo was available at a bargain price was because he was due to make around $9 million in 2016 which the Orioles were happy to pay him, but the Mariners were not.
Players like Trumbo expose the arcane arbitration system. Home runs, batting average, RBI’s, wins, and saves are the stats that dominate in arbitration. Guys who rack up in some statistical areas get paid, while others do not. Therefore, in this system players can quickly become overpaid and, to some teams, a drag on their current roster.
However, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Trumbo was of no use to the Mariners, so the Orioles got him for a low price. There are a number of players that fit the same bill this off season. I have detailed a few names below that I think would be good fits for the Orioles and may be available at a low cost due to their high arbitration salaries.
The 28 year old speedy outfielder is currently on the Nationals. MLB Trade Rumors projects his 2017 salary to be $6.3 million. That is a lot of money for a Nationals team that may be looking to add in the free agent market. Especially for a player that has never produced more than 2.6 bWAR in a single season and was worth an amazingly low -1.2 bWAR last year. Revere hit just .217/.260/.300 last season. He was atrocious, but he still makes some sense for the Orioles.
Revere makes a decent target for the Orioles for multiple reasons. One, he is left handed hitting outfielder, which the Orioles do not have many of. Two, he makes contact. Revere had a batting average over .290 for six straight years until last year.
While Revere basically never walks and only has six career home runs, he does posses a skill that many Orioles hitters lack. He can put the dang bat on the dang ball. Third, he is a good defensive outfielder. I have banged this drum over and over again, but if the Orioles want to be better in 2017 they need to improve their outfield defense.
Like Trumbo last season and the rest of these guys, Revere also will not cost much to acquire which makes him a perfect target for the Orioles who have little to give up.
For some reason, the Rockies acquired McGee last off season from the Rays. The 30 year old left handed reliever is projected to have a $6.1 million salary in 2017. Much like Revere, McGee was terrible in 2016 putting up a 4.73 ERA and a 5.29 FIP, both the highest of his career. Also, his velocity is trending downward from a high of 96.4 in 2014 to 94.4 in 2015 and 93.4 last season.
However, McGee is still a left handed reliever with a little bit left in the tank. He’s a year removed from a 2.41 ERA season pitching in the AL East. Colorado messes with pitchers and giving McGee a chance to prove he still has it makes some sense.
A bullpen can always be improved. His recent success, left handedness, and cheap price to acquire all make him a decent target for an Orioles’ pitching staff that is going to depend upon it’s bullpen once again.
Ross was a budding young star and a prime trade candidate last season until a shoulder injury knocked the 29 year old right handed pitcher out for the season. He made only one start in 2016 and is still projected to make $9.6 million in 2017.
The Padres may simply give Ross a chance to prove that he is healthy in Spring Training and the early months of the season to improve his value for the 2017 trading deadline. However, his high salary and uncertainty make him a somewhat attractive piece to move now.
Ross has a career 3.64 ERA and in his most recent full season pitched to a 3.26 ERA in 196.0 innings. He is definitely been a better pitcher in the pitcher friendly confines of Petco Park, but he has not been appreciably worse on the road. Ross also strikes people out averaging 9.7 SO9 in 2015 and 9.0 SO9 in 2014. He has recently been a good starting pitcher.
Again, he is not as much of a non-tender candidate as the other two players, but his high projected salary makes his availability higher than one might think. The Orioles would also have to shed some other players to acquire him, but he fits a need and may not cost the Orioles too much in the way of assets right now.
With a thin free agent market and a little money to play around with the Orioles are going to have to get creative and maybe buy low on a player or two. The Dan Duquette led Orioles have been pretty great at finding those guys and getting the best out of them. The non-tender candidate market can be ripe with options. Now, we’ll have to wait and see and knowing this Orioles front office it’s going to be a long wait.