The Orioles defied all odds in finally winning another game last night as they continue to fight off the curse instilled upon the team for ending the pies. For those who haven’t been counting, the Birds are now 2-7 since having the audacity to pie super-serious MLB-veteran Mark Trumbo and shutting down the operation.
Despite the victory, the offense struggled to put runs on the board once again. Orioles fans better hope the trend turns around, because looking ahead to 2018, most everyone in the lineup is set to return. And for those whose contracts are about to expire, they’re likely to be replaced by current players recently called up by the O’s.
Take a look at the Tuesday’s lineup from earlier this week below. Showalter threw out the following squad, one through nine.
- Tim Beckham - SS
- Jonathan Schoop - 2B
- Manny Machado - 3B
- Adam Jones - CF
- Trey Mancini - LF
- Chris Davis - 1B
- Mark Trumbo - DH
- Caleb Joseph - C
- Joey Rickard - RF
It’s entirely guys that will be under contract next season. On Wednesday, the lineup remained similar. The only difference was in right field, where Seth Smith took the place of Rickard. With Welington Castillo temporarily shelved with what’s being delicately called a “groin” injury, Seth Smith represents the only current regular in the lineup who is looking at free agency this winter. And he’s already a platoon guy.
Barring something drastic, and frankly surprising, Castillo and Smith’s replacements are already on the team. Chance Sisco and Austin Hays should slot in as part-time catcher and right fielder immediately in 2018. Preparing them for the start of next season appears to be the only reason they’re currently on the team at all, given their questionable lack of playing time since being called up.
When talking free agency on offense, that’s about it. Outside of the lineup regulars, utility man Ryan Flaherty will finally hit free agency along with soon-to-be utility infielder J.J. Hardy. Considering their combined -0.6 WAR in 2017, neither will be sorely missed, even if one of them is tied for the most active Orioles postseason home runs, and the other is J.J. Hardy.
If the Orioles start next season with a four-man bench, here are 12 guys they already have on the roster.
Infielders: Davis, Schoop, Machado, Beckham
Outfielders: Jones, Mancini, Hays, Santander, Rickard
Catchers: Joseph, Sisco
The only position missing from the current roster is the all-important utility man. If another major league team somehow outbids the Orioles for Ryan Flaherty in free agency, the Orioles may still look in-house at Steve Wilkerson.
The former Clemson Tiger is on his way to the Arizona Fall League after slashing .305/.375/.423 at Frederick and Bowie. And that’s while splitting time between first base, second base, third base, shortstop, and right field. Sound familiar? I’m sure we can find him an emergency catcher’s mitt somewhere.
Between Ubaldo, Tillman, and Hardy, the O’s will have nearly $40 million coming off the books this off season in addition to their combined WAR of -3.9. It may sound like a lot of money for Dan Duquette to throw around in free agency, but once raises get handed out through arbitration, the Orioles won’t be entering free agency as major buyers. With whatever money the O’s may have leftover, it would be wise to put it all towards pitching. The offense will likely remain.
I say likely, because there are obviously no guarantees. For all anyone knows, the Orioles could enter the Winter Meetings shopping half the squad. But, we all know how much the front office loves its guys. They literally handed out 40,000 shirts saying so. It’s a good bet the lineup will remain similar to what’s been trotted out as of late, with hopefully some more playing time from the rookies.