Starting pitching tops Orioles' needs at Meetings
The Orioles, who traded for Mark Trumbo on Wednesday, have made some early offseason moves. But, as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette stated, they are far from done.
With the addition of Trumbo, and Matt Wieters accepting the team's one-year qualifying offer, the O's front office will head to Nashville for next week's Winter Meetings hoping to add further shape to the 2016 roster.
Let's take a closer look at where things stand as of now.
Starting pitching: The Orioles lost Wei-Yin Chen to free agency, so they need to sign a pretty dependable starter just to make up for that departure. To improve the rotation -- which Duquette has said is necessary -- the O's will have to add more than one starter. With David Price signing with Boston and Zack Greinke joining Arizona, the rest of the free-agent starting pitching dominoes could fall in Nashville.
Outfield: Trumbo was a start, but both he and Duquette noted that in a perfect world, the slugger would be considered more of a first baseman/designated hitter type. Even if he does see some time in the corner outfield, there's still a glaring hole at the other corner spot.
Chris Davis: Davis -- in line for a monster payday -- would certainly help fill the O's needs at first base and corner outfield. The O's remain interested in Davis, even after the Trumbo trade, but will they be able to outbid other teams for his services?
Late innings: Davis wasn't the only free agent the Orioles wanted to bring back. Darren O'Day, considered the top relief arm on the free-agent market, agreed to a four-year contract to return to the team, according to a source. The team has not confirmed.
The O's top pitching duo of Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey are coming off injury-riddled 2015 seasons. While Harvey has time to get on track in the Minors, Bundy is out of options and the O's will try to see if he can help the team in the bullpen this spring. A trade of either guy right now doesn't seem that likely, since the Orioles would have to sell low.
It wasn't all bad in the Minors this year for Baltimore, though, as Trey Mancini, Mychal Givens and Oliver Drake all had standout seasons. Givens, who spent a fair amount of time with Baltimore, should be a big piece in next year's bullpen.
Rule 5 Draft
The Orioles have been incredibly active in the Rule 5 Draft under Duquette, and there's no reason to think that will change this year. Infielder Ryan Flaherty and pitcher T.J. McFarland are among recent Rule 5 Draft picks they were able to keep.
Big contracts they might unload
As it stands right now, Adam Jones and Wieters will make the most on the team in 2016, and neither of them are going anywhere. Ubaldo Jimenez, who is slated to make $13 million next year and $13.5 in '17, has a contract the Orioles have tried to move in the past, and there's no reason to think they wouldn't at least entertain that idea again. What makes it tough, however, is Jimenez's inconsistency in his first two seasons with the O's.
With arbitration raises and the acquisition of Trumbo, the O's will already be in the $100 million range. For comparison's sake, they were nearly at $119 for Opening Day a year ago and have been able to steadily increase the payroll in recent years. If they are going to upgrade last season's club, it will take another -- likely significant -- payroll jump by ownership.