The Orioles are suddenly within a month of pitchers and catchers reporting to Sarasota despite obvious holes in their roster. With the days counting down, it’s so bad that Jon Meoli’s 25-man roster prediction for the Baltimore Sun consists of a starting rotation that includes Mike Wright, Miguel Castro, and Gabriel Ynoa.
The AAAA trio would be fine if they were all competing for the fifth spot in the rotation, but to all be included before Spring Training and before any injuries? That’s less than ideal. Heck it’s less than bad. It’s terrible. I don’t even want to think about who would be options #6 and #7 in that scenario.
Luckily for fans, the Orioles are going to acquire a starter in the next month, they have to. And there are a lot still on the market, because there are a whole lot of teams that haven’t signed anybody either. The Orioles haven’t been the only team sitting on their hands this winter.
With February creeping up, there are still well over 100 free agents waiting to be signed somewhere this offseason. Of MLB.com’s top 25 free agents, only ten have inked deals so far; and it’s worse at the top of the list. Of the top ten free agents, only three players have signed with a team. Heck, there have been only 13 deals for position players handed out league-wide. Did I mention pitchers and catchers report in less than four weeks?
It’s possible that teams are simply sitting on their money until the ridiculous 2018 free agent class which includes stars like Harper, Machado, Donaldson, Blackmon, Pollack, etc., but the players this offseason certainly won’t go unsigned. And that includes those that are even threatening to sit out into the season in order to get a fair deal.
The market this offseason has been so slow that there have already been rumblings about owner collusion, something that teams will never acknowledge publicly. After seeing crazy deals for middling starters such as Tyler Chatwood, Mike Minor, and Miles Mikolas, all once Orioles targets, the market has essentially shut down as teams are refusing to pay much more for marginally better starters like Jason Vargas or Alex Cobb.
When it comes to power hitters, the market has been even slower. After seeing an MLB-record 117 players hit over 20 home runs in 2017, teams just aren’t putting a premium on the long ball like they used to.
Fresh off of a 45 homer season in which he slashed .303/.376/.690, J.D. Martinez entered the offseason with his agent Scott Boras seeking a $200 million contract. MLB Rumors had him pegged for a $150 million deal over six years back in November, but so far his biggest suitor, the Red Sox, only appear to be offering $100 million over five years. The money that has seen baseball contracts explode in the last decade just isn’t there.
The point of all of this is that while it may seem like the Orioles front office isn’t doing anything to address the holes in the team’s roster, the rest of the league isn’t doing much either. At some point soon, a team out there will sign a guy like Martinez or Arrieta, and the stove will be cranked up from its current simmer. In the meantime, just sit back and try to relax when you see articles saying the Orioles’ rotation will include all three of Wright, Ynoa, and Castro. Dan Duquette isn’t that bad at his job.
Perhaps after this league-wide standoff, the Orioles may actually be able to afford some players originally deemed out of their budget. Who knows what will actually happen, but this hasn’t been your ordinary offseason. It may be the middle of January, but there are still plenty of free agents on the table for the birds.
Is there anyone you’d realistically like to see in an Orioles uniform next season? Pop in the comments and let us know.