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After a 96 win season and their first trip to the ALCS in almost two decades, the Orioles are obvious contenders in 2015. However, beyond next season has a lot of question marks. With several key players becoming free agents after this season and several more after next season, the Orioles may be looking at a small window of success. If that is the case, the Orioles need to make any move necessary this offseason to give them a chance at the World Series title.
During his tenure as Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette hasn’t been shy about making moves, and many of his deals have been low-risk/high reward. He’s acquired guys like Bud Norris, Scott Fieldman and Andrew Miller while still keeping the untouchable prospects, and signed guys like Delmon Young and Nelson Cruz from relative pennies. However, despite all his success his one blemish would have to be Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez’s four-year/50 million dollar contract was largest free agent contract signed by the Orioles in several years, and by far the largest of Dan Duquette’s tenure. For Orioles fans it marked a reverse in philosophy. For years the Orioles had slipped into a small market mentality, dependent upon the development of prospects and signing low-cost veterans as stop-gaps. However, with the signing of Jimenez the Orioles looked to be in a win-now and win at all costs mentality, which included spending money like the big guys.
However, despite the excitement, Jimenez’s first season with the Orioles was a complete bust. His season started out disastrously, and he never seemed to recover. Injuries and ineffectiveness eventually left him outside the rotation, a rotation that by the way, that made less combined last season than Jimenez. The result was the Orioles had a very expensive mop-up guy, and Duquette’s first major free-agent signing was a failure.
The Orioles will never have the money to spend like the Bostons and New Yorks of the world, but with their recent success the Orioles should have the revenue to spend more than in the past few years. However, after being burned on the Jimenez deal, it remains to be seen whether Duquette will be a bit gun-shy this offseason.