Baltimore Orioles: How will Duquette spend the left over money?
By Jacob Adams
Photo: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a tough offseason so far for Orioles fans. Not only have the deals they managed to get done been fairly boring, but now they have to watch as two key Orioles leave for greener pastures. Just yesterday the news came that Nick Markakis will join Nelson Cruz as the next free agent to sign elsewhere. That’s now the longest tenured Oriole and last season’s team MVP that the team has lost just in the last week. For fans it’s a tough pill to swallow.
However, nostalgia tends to cloud our judgment when it comes to sports. Both Markakis and Cruz have been productive players in the past, and both have been fan-favorites, but neither contract made much sense financially for the Orioles. Like many instances during free-agency, teams aren’t paying for a player’s worth they’re outbidding the market, and these two contracts are a perfect example of that. Orioles G.M. Dan Duquette made a calculated guess that their money could be spent more wisely. Fortunately for the Orioles, they now have the financial flexibility to make alternative moves.
The most popular name being tossed around is Dodgers’ outfielder Matt Kemp. Last season, Kemp put up some impressive numbers and looked to be returning to his extraordinary form of a few seasons ago. However, unfortunately for him, he will always be associated with the phrase ‘when healthy.’ Because of that, and his exceptionally large contract, it would be interesting to see what teams would being willing to part with for him.
Ironically, another name rumored to be available is Braves’ outfielder Justin Upton. He would be a great fit in the Orioles lineup, or any lineup. He’s been a perennial all-star since he entered the league, and also is a natural right-fielder, which the Orioles now have a need for. However, the Braves’ asking price will probably too rich for the Orioles. Also, his contract expires after next season so he would likely be a one-and-done for the Orioles. Don’t be surprised if the Orioles get linked to him at some point, but it’s probably a pipedream.
Maybe the most intriguing name mentioned is Reds’ outfielder Jay Bruce. Although rumors involving him have been quiet so far, there has been some discussion that the Reds could make him available. Bruce has had an impressive career to date, but, coming off a down season, he may be the cheapest option available. Obviously, there is always a risk acquiring a player whose numbers have recently dropped below career averages. However, a left-handed power hitter at Camden Yards could do a lot to help fill the gap in production left by Cruz and Markakis.
As Orioles fans have seen in recent years, Dan Duquette won’t hesitate to make moves he believes will make the team better. After being the division champion for the first time in 17 years, he isn’t going to be willing to give up that title without a fight. The team left a lot of money on the table when Cruz and Markakis signed elsewhere, and don’t think for a second Duquette isn’t going to find an efficient way to spend it this offseason.