For the first time in a number of years, the Orioles are in an offseason where they might actually sign a notable free agent, instead of the last several years of, well, you know. The starting rotation is the area with the most obvious need, though plenty of fans have already talked themselves into the O’s signing one of the “big four” shortstops as well. It seems possible, if not guaranteed, that the O’s might even play for one of the qualifying offer free agents.
As a quick refresher, the qualifying offer system is meant to give a team who loses a crucial free agent some compensation for that player signing elsewhere. At the end of each season, teams decide which of their free agents they want to extend the qualifying offer to. That’s a one-year contract at a fairly high salary that the player will receive if he accepts. This year, that was a $19.6 million contract for 2023. If accepted, he stays and gets paid that.
If declined, the player becomes a free agent and if he signs with a different team, that new team gives up a draft pick and the old team receives a draft pick. A player who was traded in the middle of the past season can’t receive one. A player can only be given this once in his career.
Under the current CBA, there are slightly different penalties and rewards depending on a team’s status as a revenue sharing payer or recipient. The penalty is less severe than it used to be. The Orioles signing a QO free agent would give up their third-highest draft pick, probably in the early 70s overall. In the Dan Duquette days, only top 10 picks were protected, and the O’s made things worse by signing QO guys who, except for Nelson Cruz, did not end up being any good.
A total of fourteen players were given qualifying offers by their teams. Two accepted them ahead of yesterday’s deadline to do so and returned to the same team. Anthony Rizzo declined the Yankees QO but has already re-signed a multi-year deal with them. Tyler Anderson declined the Dodgers QO and jumped around Southern California to sign with the Angels.
That leaves these ten players: Aaron Judge, Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, Dansby Swanson, Brandon Nimmo, Willson Contreras, Carlos Rodón, Jacob deGrom, and Chris Bassitt. The question is simple. You can both vote in the poll at the bottom of this article and offer your thoughts in the comments: Will the Orioles sign one of these guys this winter?
A brief summary of each:
Aaron Judge: LOL, come on.
Trea Turner: Projected for at least eight years/$268 million. The 30-year-old shortstop is coming off a 4.9 WAR season where he OPSed .809.
Xander Bogaerts: At least seven years/$217 million. Very consistent for the last five seasons, batting a combined .301/.373/.508. Nearly a 6-win player last year.
Carlos Correa: The lowest expert prediction I’ve seen is nine years/$288 million. Former Mike Elias draft pick has made some people think the O’s would be interested. He is the youngest of this bunch, still only 28. .834 OPS and 5.4 WAR this year.
Dansby Swanson: Projected for at least six years/$144 million. Has never put together consecutive good-hitting seasons in his career, or topped .800 OPS in a 162-game season. 5.7 WAR even with “only” a .775 OPS this season.
Brandon Nimmo: Multiple sites predict five years/$110 million. Lefty batting center fielder with a career .827 OPS and great on-base skills, but has only topped 100 games played in two of six possible season.
Willson Contreras: The Orioles don’t need a catcher, but you could maybe talk yourself into his playing left field on the road. 30-year-old is projected in the range of four years/$80 million. .815 OPS last year, .808 OPS in a seven-year career.
Jacob deGrom: At 34 years old, opted out of a big contract to seek an even bigger one. Has combined for 26 starts across the last two years, but brings the most sustained career greatness to the table of any of these pitchers. High-AAV short-term deal of three years/$135+ million predicted.
Carlos Rodón: 237 strikeouts in 178 innings this year, 1.028 WHIP. Was great last year too, 10.5 WAR in two seasons for this 30-in-December lefty. Would the O’s absorb the injury risk? Do you want them to at five years/$120+ million?
Nathan Eovaldi: Will be 33 next season and is coming off a campaign where he started only 20 games and was bitten hard by the home run bug even with the deadened ball being what it was. On the other hand, he’s not set for a huge payday compared to some of these others - generally an expected $17 million AAV for either two or three years.
Chris Bassitt: Seemingly the most realistic of these targets if only because of the more modest anticipated price tag on this 33-year-old righty: three years/$51-60 million. ERA+ of 125 since 2018 and didn’t falter with results last year. Will be 34 next season.
That’s the group. So... will the Orioles do it?
Will the Orioles sign one of the 2022 QO free agents before spring training 2023 starts?
This poll is closed