Baltimore Orioles: 3 bold offseason predictions

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports /

Baltimore Orioles have crucial decisions to make this offseason with pending free agents Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters future with the team in question.

The Baltimore Orioles season ended abruptly in Toronto during the American League wild-card game against the Toronto Blue Jays as Edwin Encarnación sent the first pitch he saw from Ubaldo Jimenez over the left field fence to eliminate and beat the Orioles 5-2.

With the 2016 MLB season near its conclusion and a World Series champion possibly crowned Sunday night, teams around the league, including the Baltimore Orioles, will consider the options of who to retain for next season’s Opening Day. Four notable pending free agents for the Orioles include the 2016 home run champion Mark Trumbo, longtime Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, slugger Pedro Alvarez, and utility player Steve Pearce.

Along with the Orioles pending free agents, the team also has deals to make through arbitration to players like closer Zach Britton, Chris Tillman, and Manny Machado. The Baltimore Orioles will have the task to form a playoff-contenting team for next season and years after. Here are three offseason predictions for the Orioles.

1. Baltimore Orioles will not offer qualifying offer to Matt Wieters

Longtime Oriole catcher Matt Wieters surprisingly accepted the Orioles $15.8 million qualifying offer last offseason to stay with the team, but after hitting just .243 with 17 home runs and 66 RBIs this season, the Baltimore Orioles organization are far from certain about keeping Wieters for the 2017 season. To those who forgot, Wieters was selected to his fourth All-Star game this season where he caught 124 games for the Baltimore Orioles, the most since 2013 before undergoing Tommy John surgery.

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Wieters is set to earn $17.2 million next season if the Orioles decide to offer the qualifying offer to the catcher. Factors playing into the Orioles decision is highly-touted catching prospect Chance Sisco who hit .320 with 28 doubles in 112 games in AA Bowie. If the Orioles were to let Wieters go, Sisco could start at catcher for the Orioles next season, allowing the Orioles to save money for the team’s arbitration-eligible players, such as Manny Machado, Chris Tillman, Brad Brach, and closer Zach Britton.

2. Orioles will not trade closer Zach Britton

Unlike others who believe the Orioles should trade Zach Britton for proven starting pitchers, the Mariano Rivera AL Reliever of the Year winner is just too good for the Orioles to let go. Britton pitched 41 1/3 scoreless innings for the Orioles this season and a legitimate candidate for the Cy Young award. Even better, Britton only allowed four earned runs the entire season and was a perfect 47-for-47 in save opportunities. As one of the best pitchers in baseball, many are still scratching their heads on why Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t utilize Britton in a one-game elimination AL Wild Card game.

With Britton’s historic 2016 season and most likely will be the first closer since Éric Gagné to win the Cy Young Award, he deserves every dollar of a big payday that comes his way. An unhittable 98 MPH sinker doesn’t come around often, and another reason should do whatever they can to keep Zach Britton.

3. Home run leader Mark Trumbo will stay with the Orioles

After two frustrating years with the D’backs and Mariners, Trumbo blasted a league-leading 47 home runs and voted Sporting News AL Comeback Player of the Year.  Without the veteran power hitter, the Orioles would likely not have made the postseason this year. The 30-year old had his best career season with the Orioles this year and is one of the top free agents on the market this offseason.

Letting Trumbo go would be strikingly similar to what the Orioles did with Nelson Cruz in 2014 who signed with the Seattle Mariners following a one-year deal in Baltimore. Since signing with the Mariners, Cruz hit 44 home runs in 2015 and 44 this past season. It’d be silly for the Orioles to make the same mistake with Trumbo as they did with Cruz. Retaining Trumbo should be at the top of the Orioles to-do list this offseason.

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What are your offseason predictions for the Baltimore Orioles? What players will they retain or let go?