What if the Baltimore Orioles finish with a thud in 2015?
Let me preface this by saying that my personal belief is that 2015 will be a year in which the Baltimore Orioles are in perpetual contention for a playoff spot. Whether that means the division pennant or a wild card birth remains to be seen. But I think they’ll be there for most if not all of the way. But let’s do some research in our minds for just a moment; suppose I’m dead wrong and they aren’t in contention. What happens then?
When a team that was supposed to be good ends up struggling, it can be looked at from one of two angles. Either it’s a mirage, or it’s a big problem. If it’s the former, then you kind of just plug into the off season and perhaps try to add a few small pieces. If it’s the latter, you have some follow-up questions to ask yourself. Mainly, should I keep the team together, blow it up, or something in between?
The current crop of Orioles probably hasn’t been together long enough to say blow it up. Or perhaps more realistically, they haven’t been good for long enough to say that. However, the O’s are in a unique position in that at the end of the season some pretty big names will be coming off the books in theory – mainly Chris Davis and Matt Wieters. Both of those players are represented by the same agent: Scott Boras.
We all know Boras’ rap; he rarely allows his clients to hit the open market. However it’s ultimately a decision that has to be made by the player – NOT Boras. (Having said that, if you’re a player who theoretically has no loyalty to your original team and your agent is telling you he can get you millions more for a longer amount of time, you’d be crazy not to hold out.) So the odds of the Orioles being able to re-sign one or both players without them hitting free agency is not good. That obviously means that they’ll be running the risk that five minutes after free agency opens one or both of them is signing elsewhere without the Orioles even having known.
So all of that said, if the O’s struggle in 2015 to the point to where they’re looking ahead to 2016 before the end of July, do you consider trading Wieters and/or Davis to a contender? The fact is that for the time being the Orioles are pretty deep at catcher. They also have Christian Walker in the organization, a first base prospect (who of course was a September call-up last year). So if there’s a moderate chance that Wieters and/or Davis won’t be here next year either way, would it not behoove the organization to give some of those guys a shot in the field?
My personal opinion is that the Orioles should be actively trying to sign both Matt Wieters and Chris Davis long-term. And despite what you hear in the media, they are. But ultimately time will tell, and it’s something that the team will have to decide if they find themselves in that situation. However you can bet that the likes of Buck Showalter, Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, and the aforementioned Davis and Wieters will do everything in their power to ensure that they aren’t in that situation come July.