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Tuesday Bird Droppings: Waiting for free agent dominos to fall

With the biggest MLB free agent signing of the winter now official, the hot stove could start cooking soon.

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Chiba Lotte Marines v Orix Buffaloes - Pacific League Climax Series Final Game 1
Yoshinobu Yamamoto might be the next big name to sign somewhere, but it certainly won’t be with the Orioles.
Photo by Sports Nippon/Getty Images

Good morning, Camden Chatters.

The slow-to-heat-up MLB hot stove got a major jolt over the weekend with the biggest free agent signing in baseball history, Shohei Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers, a move that the club officially announced last night. We also learned some surprising details about the contract: Ohtani will defer a whopping $68 million per season for the entire 10 years of the deal, which he will then receive in full for the 10 years afterward.

So in effect, Ohtani will only be making $2 million a year for the next decade. And yet the O’s still couldn’t beat that offer! Talk about being cheap!

I’m kidding. Well, sort of. Obviously the O’s were never going to be involved in the Ohtani sweepstakes. But if there are other free agents out there who are willing to accept contracts with major deferrals (not on the $68 million per season level, of course), then there’s no reason the Birds couldn’t be involved. The Orioles are no strangers to including significant deferrals in big contracts, which they did most recently with the ill-fated Chris Davis extension, and perhaps it’d be a way for the club to land premium free agents without ownership having to significantly escalate payroll for at least the first couple years of the deal. Heck, if the Angelos family is planning to sell the team in the near future anyway, they’d be long gone by the time the bulk of those backloaded contracts need to be paid. What do they have to lose?

Yeah, I know. Don’t hold your breath. Still the majority of players on MLBTradeRumors’ top 50 free agents list remain on the market, so pretty soon these dominos are going to have to start to fall. With Ohtani off the board, the next biggest name available is Japanese import Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who is expected to land a deal well in excess of $200 million, hopefully not with an AL East team.

I guess we’ll just spend the next few weeks watching where the big-name free agents land, knowing with near certainty that none will be coming to Baltimore.

Links

Orioles lease saga: Timeline of twists and turns in past year of negotiations – Baltimore Sun
Best of luck to Nathan Ruiz, who announced on Twitter that he’s leaving the Orioles beat after five years. In his final article for the Sun, he recaps the frustrations and false starts that have left the O’s still without a long-term lease.

A look at the potential for O’s bullpen after Kimbrel addition - Steve Melewski

On paper, the Orioles’ bullpen is looking pretty strong, even without Félix Bautista. Of course there have been some Orioles bullpens that looked pretty weak on paper but turned out to be good, so hopefully the reverse isn’t true.

Elias on Stowers: “This guy still has his whole career ahead of him” - School of Roch

I keep forgetting Kyle Stowers is still in the organization. It’s good that the Orioles haven’t, but it’s hard to see a path to playing time for him.

2023 MLB Executive Of The Year: Baltimore Orioles EVP And General Manager Mike Elias - Baseball America

The Orioles’ GM earned honors from Baseball America after his club’s incredible 101-win season. Was there really any other choice?

Orioles birthdays and history

Is today your birthday? Happy birthday! You have only one O’s birthday buddy, and he’s not exactly the most memorable Oriole. It’s Garrett Atkins, who played 44 games for the 2010 Orioles to end his major league career. He turns 44 today.

The O’s have made a couple of major moves on this day in history. In 1993, they made one of their most significant free agent signings ever, inking slugging first baseman Rafael Palmeiro to a five-year, $30 million deal. Palmeiro completely transformed the Birds’ lineup, batting .292/.371/.545 with 182 homers and 553 RBIs during those five years in Baltimore (though they later brought him back for a second stint in 2004-05, which, uh, did not end well).

And on this date in 2007, the O’s parted ways with All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada, trading him to the Astros for a five-player package that included outfielder Luke Scott and pitchers Matt Albers and Troy Patton. Tejada had put up four stellar seasons with the Birds — including a franchise-record 150 RBIs in 2004 — but wasn’t keen on being part of the club’s rebuilding effort. He, like Palmeiro, later returned for a failed second stint in Baltimore.