O's offseason will take shape at Meetings
After trading for slugging outfielder Mark Trumbo and securing catcher Matt Wieters' return by making him a qualifying offer, the Orioles still have plenty to accomplish this offseason. While baseball's transaction wire had been slower than previous years, a flurry of activity Tuesday -- including word of the Trumbo deal -- signify a shift in the days leading up to next week's Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn.
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has been vocal about the club's primary needs: an improved rotation, an upgraded outfield and trying to re-sign slugger Chris Davis. The acquisition of Trumbo doesn't mean the O's are out of the Davis sweepstakes. But they do have some insurance in the event they come up short on Davis, who has mesmerizing power and is a big fan favorite.
"I'm not sure about the timetable [to re-sign Davis], but we are working to fill those team needs," Duquette said hours before the Trumbo trade made headlines. "We try to build our team all year. We are generally active in the Rule 5 Draft. Sometimes the deals come together during the Winter Meetings, other times not. But we still got plenty of work to do to get our team organized for this coming year."
Historically, Duquette has not made a big splash at the Meetings. Davis, represented by Scott Boras, is in line for a big payday and isn't expected to sign early, as the first baseman -- who is also being marketed as an outfielder this offseason -- canvases offers. But it's certainly within reason to think that the Orioles could make headway in beefing up their rotation and looking at outfield solutions.
Trumbo is another option in the outfield, though he's not known for his defensive prowess and could be a better solution at first base or as the designated hitter. Still, his bat should be an upgrade. Baltimore struggled to replace the production and clubhouse presence of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz from 2014, rotating the corner spots all year in hopes of getting some production.
There are certainly free-agent options still available, with guys like Ben Zobrist and Alex Gordon at the top of the list. The O's have also shown various degrees of interest in bringing back Steve Pearce and Gerardo Parra.
Adding Davis, who is capable of playing right field, would obviously help and give manager Buck Showalter some flexibility options at first base. Wieters played some first base last season, and he could do so again to keep his bat in the lineup and give Caleb Joseph consistent time behind the plate.
On the rotation front, the Orioles are looking through the second tier of free-agent options, a solid group that includes Scott Kazmir, Yovani Gallardo and Ian Kennedy. While there is a drawback -- all but Kazmir declined a qualifying offer -- in giving up a Draft pick, it's tough to imagine the O's significantly upgrading their rotation without making that sacrifice.
"We've been looking at all the options," Duquette said of the potential to go the trade avenue instead. "This free-agent market is quite robust for the players, especially the pitchers."
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. ET and the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. ET.