Baltimore Orioles: Biggest Offseason Needs


Oct 15, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) reacts after lining out to end the top of the sixth inning against the Kansas City Royals in game four of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of a 99-win season that exceeded the expectations of most Orioles fans and pundits, the Orioles now begin the arduous process of constructing next year’s team with expectations significantly raised.

The Orioles sported what I thought was a very complete team in 2014, until injuries and suspension crippled the team. While the team responded well and was able to plug-in capable major leaguers at catcher, first base, and third base, those players couldn’t carry the Orioles to its first World Series since 1983.

In 2015, the Orioles could potentially lose a few of its core players that put the team in contention in the first place. With the free agency of Nelson Cruz, Andrew Miller, Delmon Young, and others, as well as potential free agency of Nick Markakis, the Orioles have needs to fill in the offseason if they want to capitalize on the return of Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Matt Wieters and rebuild itself into a contender.

Designated Hitter

Orioles fans are certainly hoping that this season’s home run champ Nelson Cruz returns to the team, but he may command a salary that is out of the Orioles’ price range. Potential replacement Delmon Young could also leave as a free agent and may be seeking a multi-year deal, which the Orioles may be reluctant to commit to.

If both Cruz and Young are out of the picture, the Orioles have one potential replacement in Steve Pearce, though another left-handed hitter to platoon with Pearce would be ideal considering Pearce’s career average against right-handed pitching (.240).


Viewers across the nation are finding out how important a lights-out bullpen can be in the postseason as the Kansas City Royals continue to make their improbable run towards a World Series championship. The bullpen also made the difference for the Orioles in their ALDS sweep of the Detroit Tigers, and arguably the biggest piece of that dominant performance was pending free agent Andrew Miller, who pitched 7.1 innings without surrendering an earned run in the postseason. If Miller leaves, the Orioles miss the first leg of its seventh, eighth, and ninth inning combination that proved so effective. Darren O’Day has a $4.5 million team option the Orioles will likely pick up and Zach Britton remains under contract, but the Orioles need another piece to rely on.


The potential departures of Cruz and Young could leave the Orioles shorthanded in the outfield. If the Orioles don’t pick up Markakis’ option ($17.5 million) and are unable to come to terms on another contract, left fielder Alejandro De Aza and center fielder Adam Jones would be the only Orioles outfielders under contract for 2015. Pearce could also play a corner outfield position if needed. With two potential positions to fill replacing Cruz and Young, you have to think that the Orioles’ priority would be to pick up an outfielder with a solid bat. Especially if Davis, Machado, or Wieters are slow to recapture their best form in 2015, the Orioles would desperately miss an imposing presence in the middle of the lineup unless the need is addressed in the offseason.