BALTIMORE -- With the World Series over, it's time to turn the page on baseball in 2017. But that doesn't mean MLB goes quiet. Quite the opposite, actually, as the Hot Stove season has officially begun and the Orioles will be tasked with trying to learn from past mistakes and
BALTIMORE -- With the World Series over, it's time to turn the page on baseball in 2017. But that doesn't mean MLB goes quiet. Quite the opposite, actually, as the Hot Stove season has officially begun and the Orioles will be tasked with trying to learn from past mistakes and create a contender for next fall.
Yes, there is money coming off the books with as many as nine free agents, assuming certain player and team options are declined, but there are also big raises in line for players like Jonathan Schoop -- who is coming off a career year -- and Manny Machado.
Free agents:Ubaldo Jimenez, Welington Castillo (player option for 2018), Wade Miley ($12 million club option, expected to be bought out for $500,000), Craig Gentry, J.J. Hardy ($14 million club option, expected to be bought out for $2 million), Ryan Flaherty, Jeremy Hellickson, Chris Tillman and Seth Smith.
Arbitration-eligible players: Machado, Schoop, Zach Britton, Brad Brach, Timothy Beckham, Kevin Gausman and Caleb Joseph.
Whom do the Orioles add to the rotation?
With Jimenez, Miley and Tillman expected to be gone, whom do the O's go with to complement Dylan Bundy and Gausman? They have three huge holes in a starting rotation that was a glaring weakness. Beyond that, there's the depth to consider with no real solutions this past year at Triple-A. This has to be the biggest question facing Baltimore this offseason.
Will the Orioles try to extend Machado?
The O's want to add multiple starting pitchers and shore up their defense. And then there's that window to think about -- a large core group, including Machado, Adam Jones, Britton and Brach -- is set to hit free agency at the end of the 2018 season. Additionally, manager Buck Showalter and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette are signed only through next season.
So do the Orioles pony up the record money that's expected to keep Machado? Or do they wait and give it one more chance with this current group? Should Baltimore fall out of contention by the Trade Deadline, it will be interesting to see if Machado's name generates some buzz.
How will the youth be used?
Trey Mancini was a great boon for the O's this season -- he made the Opening Day roster, he had a fantastic rookie campaign and he was one of the team's most consistent contributors. Now, the challenge for Baltimore is evaluating what it has in players like catcher Chance Sisco and outfielder Austin Hays and determining where they fit before spending money to fill the same positions.
Assuming Castillo leaves, does Sisco get a shot? Is Hays the solution alongside Jones? Showalter likes to say September evaluating -- along with Spring Training -- is a great fooler. But Baltimore is going to have to make some key decisions as it evaluates where to allocate its offseason money.
Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.