2018 Outlook: Baltimore Orioles
The Baltimore Orioles finished with a 75-87 record for the 2017 season which landed them in last place in the A.L. East. The Orioles started off the season with low expectations to begin with, as analysts were not impressed with the lack of quality signings for the starting pitching rotation. Baltimore still has an opportunity to bounce back after such a rough outing, but starting pitching should clearly be the focus for this squad going into the winter meetings. There is also the dilemma of superstar Manny Machado’s contract situation to worry about, which only adds to the eventual list of priorities.
It’s A Millennial World
The bad news for the Orioles in 2017 is that their starting pitching finished with a 5.74 ERA, and there is no need to note where they fell rankings-wise, because it was just terrible. The good news is that most of those contracts are now officially up, especially the bloated contract of Ubaldo Jimenez, Hellickson, Tillman, and Miley. The question remains however, will Peter Angelos allow Dan Duquette to do what needs to be done in order to bolster this rotation? Duquette will have some free agency options in the offseason, but what really hurts the Orioles is the lack of quality home grown arms in the minors.
The Orioles do have a strong set of positional players that will more than likely make the Opening Day roster next season. The names that come to mind are catcher Chance Sisco, outfielder Anthony Santander, and breakout star Trey Mancini. The late addition of shortstop Tim Beckham will help ease the loss of J.J. Hardy, as the team will likely not pick up his option. However, Hardy deserves a lot of credit for what he has done for the Orioles franchise over the last seven years. Outfielder Austin Hays, at 22-years old, will be expected to have a role carved out on this 40-man roster because of his bat and speed, and it’s no secret the Orioles need to get faster in the lineup, and Hayes provides that.
2017: Minor League Player of the Year
2018: Gold Glove? @TheAustinHaysss #Birdland pic.twitter.com/CfD1qlrTjr
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) September 24, 2017
A Pitcher, A Pitcher, My Kingdom For A Pitcher
The starting pitching market is going to be very thin, and plenty of teams will be bidding for the few quality pitchers that are available. The Orioles will have roughly $46 million to spend on starting pitching this offseason, after letting four members of the current rotation walk. The names that come to mind are Jake Arrieta, Andrew Cashner, and Yu Darvish. The odds are that these arms will likely be overpaid, since this free agency isn’t loaded with star pitchers, and the Orioles may have to leave the negotiating table earlier than other teams with more payroll flexibility. The good news is that the Orioles already have Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman, and Gabriel Ynoa has the potential to fit in as a low-man in this rotation.
Alex Cobb (Tampa Bay Rays) has what the Orioles are looking for in a four-man rotation. He does not have a 100 mph fastball (average speed is 91), but he does possess three finesse pitches (sinker, curve, and a splitter) and had a ground-ball rate of 52.6% in the second half of 2017. The interesting thing about Cobb is that he had Tommy John surgery during the 2015 season, and many said he was returning back to his original form towards the end of 2017. But his injury history should dissuade many clubs from throwing tons of money in his direction. The Orioles should be able to swoop in and grab a solid innings eating arm that could, potentially, evolve as their best pitcher.
Alex Cobb doesn't have anything else to prove as he heads toward free agency and a rich multiyear deal elsewhere. https://t.co/0zC88QFIde pic.twitter.com/jlHeJMEaDR
— TampaBayTimesSports (@TBTimes_Sports) September 23, 2017
More Aristotle, Less Homer
It’s no secret that the Orioles have used the long ball to achieve victory, as they have been in the top five for home runs per game since 2015. However, the Orioles ranked 27th in on base percentage in 2017, and were dead last in stolen bases as well. There has to be an emphasis to get more guys on base and in scoring position; The Orioles were 32-13 in 2014 in one-run games, and even though they may hit less home runs, I’m sure the fans will understand if it results in winning again.
The Curios Case Of Manny Machado
There is no doubt that the most talked about player this off-season for the Orioles will be Machado, as he enters the last year of arbitration, and will potentially become a free agent in 2019. The Orioles front office has to make a decision on Machado soon, as it’s highly unlikely that a multi-year contract will get done during the course of next season. The Orioles have to offer Machado at least what Mike Trout received (10 yr, $291 million) for him to even consider staying here, but they have to throw the bait out early to find out where they stand. If Machado isn’t biting, the Orioles seriously need to consider trading him for top prospects to bolster their lacking farm system.
Orioles rumors: Team “hasn’t yet decided” whether to try big Manny Machado deal https://t.co/ZHC4y2SNgk pic.twitter.com/bPvmSWdHED
— Salman Rk (@SalmanRKI) September 23, 2017
Photo Credit: CBS Baltimore
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