The offseason hasn’t really begun until other teams start signing the players that the Orioles were said to be interested in. Well, friends, the offseason has now begun. A week ago, the Orioles were rumored to be pursuing outfielder Josh Reddick. On Thursday night, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reported that Reddick has signed with the Houston Astros for four years and $52 million.
That’s bad news for the Orioles any way you slice it. Whether or not Reddick would have been a good signing for the O’s isn’t even what matters - though it very well might not have been, because giving four years to a soon-to-be 30-year-old who’s played over 120 games just twice in his career could be bad news in and of itself.
The fact that the Reddick class of outfielder, which always figured to be the top level the O’s could reach, is able to get four years and over $50 million guaranteed, is the bad news.
Reddick had been predicted by MLB Trade Rumors to get three years and $36 million guaranteed. That’s still a lot at $12 million a year, and even that much might be more than the Orioles have available to spend.
If Reddick costs this much, that’s going to drive up the price tag for players on that tier, possibly including Carlos Gomez and Michael Saunders, and it’ll drive up the price tag for players who are believed to be above that tier, including qualifying offer recipients Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler.
On the bright side, while that fourth year of the contract adds some money, it doesn’t add much to the 2017 expenditure. So if it turns out that an outfielder who was going to get $10-12 million AAV is now going to get a $12-14 million AAV, that shouldn’t, theoretically, hamper whatever financial plans the Orioles have made to address the right field situation for the next couple of seasons.
A couple million bucks for next season is chump change. Even a team like the Orioles that isn’t profligate can find that in the couch cushions. The Orioles spent about that much money for Wade Miley’s salary after they acquired him, for crying out loud, and he had a 5 ERA when they traded for him.
So if the Orioles were actually pursuing Reddick, they likely didn’t pursue him very far. Will other free agents command the same price? Will better ones command more? We’ll see, but I’m skeptical of the Orioles signing anyone who matters at these prices.