Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
After a 96 win season, and heading into a season where the rest of the division looks to be in a transitional period, the Orioles seem to be the obvious choice to be playoff bound again in 2015. However, that doesn’t mean the Orioles management will be content this offseason with the existing roster. In fact, it’s safe to assume the Orioles will be mentioned in numerous rumors as the offseason unfolds. However, what the Orioles’ strategy is this offseason will be an interesting question.
There’s no doubt the Orioles will attempt to get better, but how they go about doing that is anybody’s guess. The Orioles have been reluctant in the past to hand out large contract to free agents, and there is no reason to think that philosophy could change this offseason. However, Vice President of Baseball Operations, Dan Duqette, has never shied away from a move he thought could make the team better, and the Orioles could have several interesting trade options.
One name that will be brought up a lot this offseason is Brian Matusz. However, what value Matusz has at the present has is debatable. The once top tier prospect has been reduced to a lefty-specialist bullpen option for the past few seasons, and has had some success in that role. However, his real value would come if a team projected him as a starter.
It has never been a question of pitch arsenal for Matusz, but his repertoire has never translated to getting out right-handed hitters consistently at the major league level. Despite his inconsistencies, he could draw some attention from teams desperate for starting pitching.
Another arm that could get some attention from other teams is lefty T.J. McFarland. McFarland had a successful season for the Birds out of the bullpen, often pitching multiple innings. McFarland will be a starting pitching option for the Orioles in 2015. However, with the rotation seemingly set, he looks to be destined for the bullpen again. There is no doubt the Orioles value McFarland, but with starting pitching at a premium around the league, the Orioles should get some interesting offers for the young southpaw.
The most interesting option this offseason may be Jonathan Schoop. After struggling early in the season, Schoop slowly improved as the season progressed, and showed flashes of why Orioles’ management seemed so high on him. It’s highly unlikely the Orioles would be willing to move him given his high upside. However, with his extreme athleticism and raw talent he is sure to garner plenty of attention.
The Orioles biggest weakness in 2014 would have to be on-base percentage and base-stealing, and those are two categories where Schoop does not excel. If the Orioles were looking for improvement in those categories second-base could be the best option. That being said, again, it’s highly unlikely the Orioles would part with that much talent. However, don’t be surprised to hear his name thrown around this offseason.
If there’s one thing Orioles’ fans have learned the past few seasons, it’s that Dan Duquette will not hesitate to pull the trigger on a move if he believes it improves the team. With a winning ball club, difficult moves sometimes have to be made in the hopes of winning now. It will interesting to see what rumors will begin flying around the Orioles as the offseason heats up.