Orioles Look Forward to Building Team This Offseason


While watching the Chicago Cubs play, one thing may have dawned upon many O’s fans. This one thing is the building of the team through trades, shrewd deals and top prospects. The Orioles have done this in the past couple of seasons … until this season, where they went 81-81 and made a few rather questionable moves.

The Orioles didn’t bring back slugger Nelson Cruz who batted .302 and hit 44 HRs with the Seattle Mariners. They also didn’t keep team leader Nick Markakis, who batted .296 for the Atlanta Braves. Having missed out on keeping these strong clubhouse players, the Orioles struggled.

According to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun, he wrote that a few players had trouble dealing with the trade of Tommy Hunter to the Chicago Cubs for outfielder Junior Lake:

"“Hours after acquiring outfielder Gerardo Parra, the Orioles traded Hunter, a well-liked veteran and a stable bullpen arm. The Orioles said Hunter was dealt to give the bullpen more roster flexibility, but players privately expressed that it was a cost-cutting move that sent a horrible mixed message of a halfhearted attempt to win. The trade netted the Orioles 25-year-old outfielder Junior Lake, who played in just eight major league games after the trade and will be without minor league options next season. After the nonwaiver deadline, the Orioles went 29-31 and missed the postseason.”"

Baltimore is now in another situation where many veterans are now free agents. Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, Steve Pearce, Matt Wieters and recently acquired Gerardo Parra are set to become free agents this winter.

If the Orioles are capable of returning to being a playoff team, they will make a few moves that will be uncharacteristically flashy. One of the moves that some have clamored for the Orioles to make is to re-sign Davis.

Davis will probably command upwards of $100 million over the course of his contract. The Orioles should bring back their top slugger, who has hit 162 long balls while wearing an Orioles uniform, because of the effect that his bat had on the lineup. He protects Adam Jones and gives him more pitches to hit.

He brings an above-average glove to the table as well at first base. P.S. Davis can play multiple positions (he has played right field, left field, third base and first base while with the O’s).

Sep 20, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Chris Davis (19) hits a 2-run home run during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The next order of duty is to bring back the capable Parra, who has been a mainstay in the Orioles outfield since being traded to Baltimore in July. Parra has brought over a Gold Glove-caliber defense in right field. Although his batting average in Baltimore (.237) hasn’t been the greatest, he started to come around with his bat at the end of the season.

Parra has said he wants to return. “For sure. I like the fans. I like the team. I like the players,” said Parra. “I like everything about here. It’s a great team and all the people are good to me.” Another key to his re-signing is that he will probably command $40 million over the course of his next contract. That is very doable for the Orioles.

Darren O’Day has been a mainstay in the Orioles bullpen. He finally made his first All-Star appearance this season and has a 2.31 ERA. The Orioles can re-sign him to continue their mission of excellence in the bullpen.

See a recurring theme here? Yes? That’s because the Orioles must break the bank to keep some of their free agents that are already on the team. As well as keeping their own free agents, they have to go out and get other ones. Also, could they make any trades?

Orioles GM Dan Duquette sure seems to think so. He lists his priorities this offseason as to look for trades, build a list of free agents and strengthen the scouting in the international department:

"“We’ve been working on a trade target. We’ve been working on a free agent target list. We’ve been working on a minor league free agent list, a 20b list, an international scouting free agent list. So, we’re prepared. We’re ready to go and I think we have a pretty good shopping list. I think we know where the weaknesses are on our current ballclub and what we need to strengthen for the coming season. And so we’ll try to systematically fill each of those holes as we get ready to go into the season.”"

In a previous article, I stated two moves that I believed the Orioles will make this offseason. However, these following moves are the ones that they need to make to win next season. The Orioles need to acquire a top-flight pitcher this offseason to strengthen and solidify their rotation. Jordan Zimmermann (3.66 ERA in 2015) and Scott Kazmir (3.10 ERA in 2015) lay on the horizon.

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Kazmir will command a hefty amount on the open market as a left-handed starter. This could dampen the Orioles’ expectation of signing him. Also, Zimmermann (a two-time All-Star) has been very good for the Nationals over his career. Duquette and Angelos will have to smash their proverbial piggy banks to get these deals done. If they do, they will have two great pitchers that can take their team to new heights.

October 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward (22) hits a single in the sixth inning against Chicago Cubs in game four of the NLDS at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

There is one last move that should be made. It is an absolute game-changer if the Orioles can pull it off this offseason. It is the signing of Jason Heyward (two-time Gold Glover). If the Orioles sign Heyward, they will instantly have the best-fielding outfield in the majors. With all three of their outfielders (Parra, Adam Jones and Hewyward) being Gold Glove candidates each season, it plays well with Buck Showalter‘s defensive philosophy.

In addition to being a great fielder, Heyward brings the ability to steal bases and maybe to hit home runs in Camden Yards. Heyward is also fairly young. He is still developing and he could become a great player with the strong guidance of an Adam Jones and Showalter. If the Orioles make these moves, it will easily make them a force to be reckoned with in the American League again.

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