In case you missed the announcement on Thursday, all of us at Camden Chat are taking turns in the coming days to fill in for Dan Duquette as we attempt to craft the 2017 Baltimore Orioles. It’s pretty simple: you call the shots, who to re-sign, who to offer the QO. And you get up to a $170 million budget to do it if you keep Matt Wieters on a QO, or only $160 million if you don’t.
Yesterday, Alex Conway put forth his plan. Today, it’s my turn. And readers are free to head over to the FanPosts page and put together their own plan anytime. In fact, we encourage you to do so! Ok, let’s get down to business...
Where we stand
Based on the payroll books, I see we’ve got $98,450,000 committed in guaranteed contracts in 2017. On top of that, we have an approximate $43,400,000 in additional money that we expect to spend on “no-brain” arbitration-eligible players. And then about $2,312,000 for Dylan Bundy, and Mychal Givens, who don’t yet get arbitration. That gives us the following roster of 16 players (arbitration players in italics) worth about $144,162,000 for next season:
1B Chris Davis ($23 million)
2B Jonathan Schoop ($3.4 million)
SS J.J. Hardy ($14 million)
3B Manny Machado ($11.2 million)
LF Hyun Soo Kim ($4.2 million)
CF Adam Jones ($16,333,333)
RHP Chris Tillman ($10.6 million)
RHP Kevin Gausman ($3.9 million)
RHP Dylan Bundy ($1.8 million)
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez ($13.5 million)
RHP Yovani Gallardo ($11 million)
LHP Wade Miley ($9,416,667)
LHP Zach Britton ($11.4 million)
RHP Brad Brach ($2.9 million)
RHP Mychal Givens ($512K)
RHP Darren O’Day ($7 million)
No excitement in arbitration
The four other arbitration-eligible guys are Caleb Joseph, T.J. McFarland, Vance Worley and Ryan Flaherty. It’s pretty straightforward for me: keep the fielders, cut the pitchers.
For a total of $2.7 million, you get Joseph and Flaherty, who are both adequate defenders and marginal hitters. That’s OK with me. If you are relying on one of your bench guys to fill-in for significant time, you are in trouble anyway.
McFarland has to go because he just isn’t any good. Even at his estimated $700K cost, you can probably find someone that costs even less and is at least major league average. I drop Worley because he costs too much at $3.3 million for being a long relief/spot start guy. I have Tyler Wilson or Mike Wright to fill that role for less money.
Offer BOTH Trumbo and Wieters
The official word came down on Monday. The real-life Orioles were willing to offer Mark Trumbo the $17.2 million qualifying offer, but did not extend the same to Matt Wieters. To me, that’s a mistake. I would have given it to both of them.
I do not expect Trumbo to accept it. He is the reigning home-run champ, coming off a nice year where he can cash-in with a long-term deal. That’s OK with me. It’s too much money for an offense-only player who is on the wrong side of 30 anyway.
I doubt Wieters accepts either. It’s a thin catching market, but I hope he thinks about returning to Charm City for one more season. We need a starting catcher for a year and he could stand to improve his portfolio a tad.
Apart from those two, I’m not too intrigued by the O’s other pending free agents. Pedro Alvarez is one-dimensional. Both Steve Pearce and Michael Bourn are too old. And then the rest (Tommy Hunter, Brian Duensing, Nolan Reimold, Drew Stubbs and Paul Janish) might get a Spring Training invite, but nothing more.
The free agent market
I think David Lough could have some serious upside. He’s available.
Kidding aside, outfield is my top priority in free agency. We know Jones is the starter in center, but the corners are a bit murky.
Kim can hit righties, but he is a bad fielder. Rickard can hit lefties, but is also a bad fielder. Maybe that makes for a respectable, offense-first platoon in left field. It will have to work. But what about right field?
Previously mentioned options have been Jon Jay and Michael Saunders. Those would certainly be nice additions that shouldn’t cost the Birds too terribly much to get done. I’m going to go the obvious route and put an offer in to Josh Reddick.
Reddick will turn 30 years old in February. MLBTR pegs him getting a deal in the neighborhood of $36 million over three years. Although the O’s don’t have much cash, they can make this happen. It’s not like they are blocking any stud minor leaguers coming up.
The former Athletic and Dodger won a Gold Glove in 2012, but has since degraded into a slightly below average fielder. Even still, he is better than Trumbo out there, will play everyday, and can provide a little pop. A thumb injury in the second half last year derailed a season in which he was slashing .296/.368/.449 prior to being traded from Oakland to LA.
On a more Duquette-esque scale, I see two more players that could land in Baltimore. Right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen and outfielder Jaff Decker. Both could be minor league deals with spring training invites.
Once upon a time, Medlen was an up-and-coming, future Cy Young candidate. But he has a small frame that arm injuries have destroyed. At 31 years old, he could still have a shot to turn things around.
Decker is a former first round pick who does have 60 games of major league experience. The 26-year-old owns a career OBP of .389 across nine seasons of minor league ball. Sounds like a great guy to have at Norfolk for emergencies.
No one on the Orioles roster screams “Trade!” except for maybe Britton. He is a stud and costs a lot of money in a position that I think is fairly easily replaced. However, the level at which he performs is NOT easily replaceable. So, keep him in Baltimore for at least one more season.
This might be where I look to pick up a catcher. Wieters is likely already gone through free agency, which makes Joseph my everyday backstop and Francisco Pena the backup to the backstop. That pair could certainly stand to be upgraded.
The two big names to look at are Oakland’s Stephen Vogt and San Diego’s Derek Norris. Vogt is the more well-rounded player who can be a solid receiver while also producing with the bat. Norris, however, is the better defender and is four years younger. Vogt is projected to make $3.7 million in 2016 and Norris is expected to get $4 million. Being that Vogt is less expensive, let’s go with him.
Who to give up? Would the A’s be willing to take one, or some, of the older prospects? Christian Walker, Mike Yastrzemski or Jason Garcia? One of them might get the ball rolling.
Sum it up
All of this adds up to a 2017 payroll of $162,562,000 and that is before accounting for some less-experienced guys, like Joey Rickard, Donnie Hart, Oliver Drake, Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson and Trey Mancini who will make near the league minimum. Those guys together get things up around the $167 million, so I failed to keep us under the $160 million threshold. PLEASE DON’T FIRE ME!!
As far as the question mark positions go, I have Vogt at catcher, Kim and Rickard splitting time in left, Reddick in right and Mancini as the everyday DH.
Overall, it’s a solid team that allows the Birds to compete again in 2017, probably along the same lines of how they did in 2016. Removing Trumbo from right field and replacing him with Reddick should see the defense improve. And the swap of Vogt and Wieters behind the plate isn’t much of a change.
Unfortunately, the starting pitching is still a big question mark, but it almost has to be. Gallardo, Jimenez and Miley could all be off the books after the season. And the free agent market is almost devoid of sure-thing starters. I mean, the guys they currently have mush be better this season than they were last summer, right? Hopefully.
But seriously, the number one priority of the entire offseason needs to be to sign Manny friggin’ Machado to a long-term deal. PAY THE MAN!