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5 questions O's will need to answer in 2018

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will be the first to say it: 2018 is an important year on many levels for Baltimore. The club is facing some big personnel decisions -- on and off the field -- and a tough task in the reloaded Yankees and the reigning division-champion Red Sox.

As the calendar officially flips to 2018, let's take a look at the top five questions for the Orioles heading into the new year.

BALTIMORE -- Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will be the first to say it: 2018 is an important year on many levels for Baltimore. The club is facing some big personnel decisions -- on and off the field -- and a tough task in the reloaded Yankees and the reigning division-champion Red Sox.

As the calendar officially flips to 2018, let's take a look at the top five questions for the Orioles heading into the new year.

1. Will they trade any big players?
Manny Machado's name floated through the halls at the Winter Meetings. There's a ton of interest in Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens. Will Duquette pull the trigger on a deal and try to rebuild the organization for the future? Or will the club let Machado, who has one year left on his contract, play it out in Baltimore? Of course another question regarding the infielder is where will he play next season: third base or shortstop?

Video: Must C Classic: Manny rips trio of HRs, walk-off slam

2. Who will be the new additions to the Orioles' rotation?
It's no secret the O's rotation struggled last year. And they've made it priority No. 1 to acquire two starting pitchers this offseason to put into their rotation. There's little chance the Orioles will acquire a top arm, and their preference is to not sign deals longer than three years with any free-agent pitcher. They're going to add some pitching. But will those guys be enough to turn things around?

3. How will rookie catcher Chance Sisco fare?
With Welington Castillo electing free agency, Sisco will be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster and handle catching duties along with Caleb Joseph. While Sisco has made some defensive strides, there's still work to be done based on how he did (albeit in a small sample size) in September. It's early, but his bat looks as advertised. A lot of eyes will be on Sisco this spring, as he has to be able to show he can help lead a pitching staff that will be vital to the Orioles' success.

Video: Showalter gives update on Sisco's development

4. How do Duquette and manager Buck Showalter navigate things in their final contract year?
It's not just Machado, Britton and Adam Jones who are facing free agency. The Orioles' organization is at a crossroads and no one knows for sure how things will end up. (Though Showalter did say at the Winter Meetings he'd like to manage the Orioles beyond '18.) Still, big decisions loom.

5. Can the Orioles compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in 2018?
The Yankees have already made a big splash in landing Giancarlo Stanton. Boston and New York are hungry for winners and have first-year managers. Media pundits are already writing the AL East off as a two-horse race. Can the Orioles hang with the two divisional behemoths?

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

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