I don’t know about you all, but I already miss baseball. That World Series was incredible — but life without Orioles baseball just feels empty. Thankfully, there’s an intriguing offseason on the horizon, one that will certainly shape the future of the 2017 Orioles into either a legitimate contender or a potential sub-.500 baseball team.
I’m no GM, but I’ll do my best here to build an offseason plan that would make Dan Duquette proud.
Like previous mock offseason plans proposed on Camden Chat in previous days, I’m willing to take a conservative approach to the next few months. The Orioles are a good baseball team; they need one or two well-thought-out moves to have the chance to make another postseason run in 2017.
Joe’s Orioles Offseason Plans: Keep It Simple, Win Ballgames
Let’s start with the simple decisions.
Tenders and non-tenders
Of the ten players up for arbitration, it’s pretty clear that six are going to be obvious choices. As a refresher, here are those players:
- Chris Tillman
- Zach Britton
- Brad Brach
- Manny Machado
- Jonathan Schoop
- Kevin Gausman
That’s a large portion of the Orioles future listed above. Lose one of those pieces and there’s a massive concern in Birdland. But we can rest easy knowing that those decisions are basically slam-dunks.
Then, there are the four difficult decisions — Ryan Flaherty, Vance Worley, Caleb Joseph and T.J. McFarland.
There’s one “no way” choice here that came about immediately, and that’s the case of McFarland. He needs to be replaced, and the Orioles can easily do that. There are minor-leaguers in the system that project to be much more valuable throughout 2017.
Caleb Joseph is “Baltimore”, and one of those players who just seems to fit right into what Buck Showalter likes to do. He stays in orange.
I’m going to choose to trust young pitching to develop this offseason (this one was tough) and let Vance Worley walk. I understand the pro-Worley case, but I’m willing to bet on others to provide value.
Ryan Flaherty is invaluable to the team’s bench — he gets tendered.
The $17.2 million number is a bit of a sticker shock when it comes to some guys, but Mark Trumbo’s role on the Orioles is too important to ignore. I’m certainly giving him the qualifying offer, and there isn’t any bit of hesitation in this decision.
The O’s aren’t the O’s without Trumbo’s contributions in 2016. He shouldn’t be expected to have a seamless building-block season off of last year’s brilliant campaign, but I’ll do everything in my power to keep Trumbo with the good guys for 2017.
As we know know the Orioles didn’t, I’m not going to give the QO to Matt Wieters.
I love Matt Wieters.
He’s one of my favorite all-time Orioles.
But the price isn’t right here. Chance Sisco is quickly going to emerge as a superstar, and with Caleb Joseph (and a free agent signing at the position), the team can be nicely set with Sisco waiting in the wings, available for 2017 after a brief stint in the minors, if all goes as planned.
It’s a decision I wouldn’t want to make, but it feels like the one that has to be made.
The free agent targets
I’ll address the Wieters situation first and say that I’m not of the belief that a team sans Wieters is going to need to figure out a legitimate year-long option on the free agent market. I’m banking on Sisco being ready, so a signing here will be a low-level move — think Alex Avila or Nick Hundley.
Let’s get honest about the outfield position.
A move needs to be made, and I don’t think it’s going to be Dexter Fowler. Believe me, I’d love to see that move as much as the next guy. The price, ultimately, will be the reason he isn’t an Oriole next season. The opportunity was missed in 2016, and it’s unlikely he’ll be affordable.
Though the rumors are spreading about Ian Desmond, I can’t explain how interested I’d be in Rajai Davis. He makes way too much sense, and though he’d be pricey, he could fall into a manageable range. Can you imagine having an outfielder who can hit and consistently steal bases?
If Davis isn’t an option, I’m completely aboard the Jon Jay train (as Mark Brown suggested in his column last week). Between 2010 and 2014, he hit over .300 in three of five seasons. On-base machine -- yes please!
There isn’t a reliable DH market out there, and I’m not sure that’s an area where a move needs to be made. I’ll trust the guys currently on the roster to provide the spark in the lineup.
The farm system needs to be built up, and trading away prospects at this point isn’t a realistic option.
If they can deal Zach Britton for an unbelievable haul, I’d be willing to listen, oddly enough. I understand his brilliance, but are we betting on 2017 to be a total repeat? By all means, baseball trends tell us that his numbers won’t be Cy Young caliber next year.
I could be wrong, but I’d entertain the “right player(s), right price” offer if it’s on the table.
There isn’t a whole lot of firework substance here, but that just isn’t the Orioles. This squad has a lot of elite-level players that we take for granted on a regular basis, and it’s easy to forget that the guys in the lineup are phenomenal players that many teams across Major League Baseball would consider miracle-workers.
The pitching staff is what it is -- starting numbers should improve and the bullpen will be rock solid.
The lineup is going to be reliable if Mark Trumbo finds his way back to Baltimore, especially if the O’s can add an on-base machine like Jay’s variety in a quiet but significant under-the-radar signing.
The catcher position is concerning, and the move to not give Matt Wieters the QO was as tricky as it’ll ever get.
All I’ll say is this: I hope Chance Sisco proves me right.
There won’t be many who look at this team as a candidate to win their division. But as Buck Showalter has shown us in the past, he doesn’t care for or need the flash and headlines. He’ll take the unconventional route — lucky for fans of the underdog, it appears this offseason will allow the 2017 Orioles to be just that as the season approaches.