According to multiple sources surrounding the Orioles, Dan Duquette is making efforts to extend J.J. Hardy before the season starts. They don’t want him in free agency, especially with that other number two in their division retiring. They’d be silly to let him go. The Orioles are a better team with him on the roster, and he says he wants to stay in Baltimore. But we’ve heard that before. The money has to be right, and don’t think that his agent isn’t well aware who needs a shortstop out in free agency and what they’re willing to spend. Hardy is just the first in a series of difficult contract decisions concerning current Orioles that Duquette and the Orioles have on the horizon. All while trying to bring in the talent to build a championship roster.
That’s the life of an MLB G.M. or, as the Orioles call it, Executive V.P. of Baseball Operations. He sees the window. He hears the fans clamoring for championship roster maneuvering. The last few weeks Duquette has responded with a flurry of signings, and the team is better for it. There are even some reports that Duquette may not be done. But the future sneaks up on a lot of teams. Orioles fans would love to see Ervin Santana, or others, in an Orioles uniform come opening day, but not at the expense of what we have.
Ervin Santana would be a welcome addition to the Orioles’ rotation. We hear it every off-season; it’s about pitching depth. But pitching is never cheap. There’s a deficiency, not a surplus. It’s not a buyer’s market. If I were to guess, Santana’s going to cost the Orioles at least double-digit millions and a multi-year deal. Again, it’s the market, and in this market that’s a fair price. But I still wouldn’t trade Ulbaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana for Hardy, Wieters or Davis.
The league has rediscovered J.J. Hardy, whose contract expires after this season, since he’s been with the Orioles. He’s no longer a secret, and gold-glove-winning, power-hitting short-stops aren’t cheap. Davis, whose contract expires after 2015, just hit fifty home runs. What team doesn’t want that power in the middle of their lineup? Again, he won’t be cheap. And, Wieters, whose contract expires with Davis’ in 2015, will also garner a flood of attention if he makes it to the open market. He may never be the “Mauer with power”, but executives around the league know how valuable he is. He’s got a big payday coming.
So where does this leave Duquette and the Orioles brace? Spend to win now or save for the future? It’s an impossible question. We’ve heard a lot lately about the window closing on the Orioles’ championship hopes, and how now is the time that Dan Duquette and the Orioles should be “all in.” That may be true, but Duquette doesn’t want to slam the window shut by over-spending outside the organization.