Dan Duquette’s wheels are turning. As if being in the AL East wasn’t already enough of a challenge, Toronto’s latest moves have cranked up the heat on the Orioles to make some of their famous magic happen in the offseason now.
The Blue Jays’ blockbuster deal has certainly made the Orioles’ situation seem more urgent. According to Dan Duquette, the top priorities remain offensive ones – first base, left field and DH. The Orioles’ lineup last season featured a host of streaky hitters, and there is no question that they can use another bat to bolster their sometimes cold lineup.
The market for first basemen isn’t too strong, and without making an offer to Reynolds before Friday night’s deadline, they risk losing him. He is likely to get a better offer from another club than he would from the Orioles once he becomes a free agent. Without signing Reynolds, there aren’t many high profile bats left in the free agent market that won’t come with a hefty price tag (ahem, Josh Hamilton).
Much has been written about the possibility of the Orioles trading one of their previously “untouchable” young pitchers – Jake Arietta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz or Chris Tillman. Quality pitching is always good bait, and if the Orioles do decide to part with one or more of these arms, they could possibly pick up a strong bat.
The Orioles’ biggest strength last season was their pitching, most especially their bullpen. Their problem in the playoffs was that all of their bats went cold at the same time. For so long, pitching was the Orioles’ biggest weakness, and now suddenly, they have a surplus of talented arms. To part with one of these youngsters seems the most likely way for the Orioles to try and make their own statement in the AL East this offseason.
Competing in the AL East is a tall order, and the Blue Jays have upped the ante. Buck Showalter has already proved that he can win with this core of young position players and pitchers. Small upgrades could be the difference between almost making the ALCS and taking it to the next level. Duquette and Showalter were able to make the playoffs last season by shuffling the right personnel at the right time, and now it remains to be seen if they will pull the right strings in the offseason.