Baltimore Orioles: Slow Free Agent Market Plays to O’s Duquette

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 25: Manager Buck Showalter
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 25: Manager Buck Showalter /

As Baltimore Orioles FanFest and Opening Day 2018 approaches, the Orioles trade rumors and news remain uneventful.

Baltimore Orioles EVP Dan Duquette prefers to lurk in free agency during the offseason until the end of Jan. and into Orioles spring training to see what ‘bargains’ may be left.

Just look at some of the signings over the past few years that have occurred in Jan., Feb. or March:

All players with major league experience. How many of them were successful in Baltimore? Delmon Young has to count, because of his 2014 playoff heroics. Nelson Cruz is the obvious one on this list.

The re-signing of Davis and Trumbo both look like bad decisions now, although there is time to turn that around. That’s about it. So, the track record isn’t excellent. But, there is good news.

Of MLBTradeRumors Top 50 free agents, only a few of the top 10 have signed. Those players are No. 5 Masahiro Tanaka, who never became a free agent and No. 8 Wade Davis and No. 10 Greg Holland. Besides, the Orioles were never going after closers.

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However, some other offensive names are intriguing. The Orioles have made it clear they are looking for a left-handed hitter, and one can see that they would likely either need to be an outfielder, or potentially a third baseman if Manny Machado moves to shortstop.

J.D. Martinez is available, but his defense is declining, and he is right-handed. Mike Moustakas is available, and he plays third base and is left handed. Roch Kubatko of MASNSports has mentioned the interest in Moustakas, and it makes sense because he would fill a few needs.

Lorenzo Cain is available, plays the outfield, but is right-handed. I would love to see Cain in Baltimore, with his above average defense and baserunning. It would allow Adam Jones to move to right field, and help improve the Orioles’ defense. But, he isn’t left-handed.

Jay Bruce is another option, listed as the 14th best free agent. He is left-handed, and there has been past interest. However, he has a .317 OBP over the last two seasons, which decreases the Orioles signing him.

Another attractive option would be the 20th player, Jonathan Lucroy. Lucroy would be best served by a one-year, prove it contract. He has historically been a top hitting catcher and a good pitch framer, although 2017 was terrible all around.

Lucroy could be another player, like Cruz and Welington Castillo, to come to Baltimore or a one-year deal and parlay that into a more substantial contract.

The Baltimore Orioles are going to let the market play out. However, some would say it already has. If the Orioles are serious about contending in 2018, now would be a good time to sign some players to help with that.

This is why the statement that the Orioles have moved on from shopping Manny Machado makes sense on the surface. The team needs to work to make itself better, assuming Machado is in black and orange in 2018.

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If the Orioles trade Machado, it will significantly impact the team moving forward, obviously. However, the Orioles have to move on as if he will be an Orioles, but moving on means signing some players.

Until that time comes, Birdland waits.