Baltimore Orioles: All the Right Moves


As the Baltimore Orioles wait on the Chris Davis decision the team still has plans to upgrade the Outfield and rotation. Through some savvy trades and a few reclamation projects, the Orioles can improve in both areas of need at very cheap prices.

There is likely nobody more interested to find out who will be playing Rightfield and Leftfield for the Baltimore Orioles in 2016 than Centerfielder Adam Jones. The O’s have been linked to several high profile Outfielders but as they also want to bring back Chris Davis, there is no chance one of those Outfielders AND Davis are in the lineup on Opening Day. If the season were to begin now the starting Outfield would likely include recently signed Korean Outfielder Hyun-soo Kim and Orioles prospect Dariel Alvarez. By all accounts, Kim is a good contact hitter and although he has a weak arm, has worked hard on his defense in the Outfield. Alvarez on the other hand has a powerful outfield arm and an unproven bat. However both seem more like 4th Outfielders until either proves otherwise, except that the 4th Outfield spot may be manned by Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard. Hardly the type of upgrades Orioles fans had hoped for when the off season began.

As fans wait to see if the Orioles will resign Davis, many have voiced the opinion that it’s time to put that money offered to the First Baseman into multiple players to fill several needs, including a Starting Pitcher and an Outfielder. Although the market for pitching has boomed during this off season, the Outfield market has stalled. Impact players like Yoenis Cespedes and Justin Upton remain unsigned. Meanwhile there are a lot of rumors floating around about Outfielders available in the trade market as well. Due to the fact that the Orioles want to maintain their #14 overall pick in the first round, they are limited in the Free Agent market and making a trade might be the best way to improve the Outfield while also resigning Davis.

A popular name on the trade wishlist for many Oriole fans is the Colorado Rockies All Star Carlos Gonzalez, who hit 40 Homeruns in 2015 and has a career batting average just under .300. Indeed Gonzalez would look awfully good in an Orioles uniform patrolling Rightfield, but the cost would likely start with Starting Pitcher Kevin Gausman, who was born in the Denver area. The Orioles really cannot spare a Major League Starting Pitcher at this time and after watching Jake Arrieta become a Cy Young award winner in Chicago, the team should be very reluctant to give up on another pitching prospect, especially one with the immense talent possessed by Gausman.

A better option might be another Rockies Outfielder, Charlie Blackmon, a 2014 All Star who hits for a decent average, has solid speed on the base paths, and can play any Outfield position. Blackmon hits from the left side of the plate and could reach 20 Homeruns batting at Camden Yards on a regular basis. Eligible to be a Free Agent in 2019, Blackmon would be a perfect fit for the Buck Showalter led Orioles and would come at a cheaper price than CarGo. The Orioles could probably get Blackmon for a Major League ready pitcher like Mike Wright and a minor league player, perhaps First Baseman Christian Walker or Catcher Jonah Heim.

But the Orioles should not stop there. They should also pursue a trade for Chicago Cubs young Outfielder Jorge Soler.  At only 23 years old, Soler could find the regular playing time he needs in Baltimore, manning Leftfield and occasionally DH’ing. Given the opportunity, Soler could surpass 20 Homeruns in 2016 and develop into a premier power hitting Outfielder. Its hard to speculate on what the Cubs would want in return for Soler but it seems like Alvarez, a quality arm like David Hess or Chris Lee, and a mid level infield prospect like Adrian Marin or Drew Dosch might be enough.

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Although it is unlikely the Orioles will trade for two Outfielders, landing both Blackmon and Soler, along with Jones in Centerfield and Kim as the 4th Outfielder, would give them one of the best Outfields in baseball, both offensively and defensively. Furthermore, adding these two players to the lineup, and resigning Davis would give the Orioles a terrifying batting order that also includes Jones, Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo, breakout candidate Jonathan Schoop, returning Catcher Matt Wieters, and bounceback candidate J.J. Hardy.

A potent lineup, a stingy defense, and a strong bullpen might be the best answer to the Orioles existing issues in the starting rotation that right now includes Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez, and one of Tyler Wilson or Vance Worley. However if the Orioles also want to add a starting pitcher on the Free Agent market while continuing to maintain their draft position and bring back Davis, they’ll need to consider a reclamation project or two and there are several available. Both Mat Latos and Tim Lincecum are looking for an opportunity to resurrect their careers so either or both could come very cheap on one year contracts. Personally, I’d be fine with seeing them both in Sarasota, vying for a roster spot.

With these additions, the Orioles could enter 2016 with a rotation including Tillman, Gausman, Jimenez, Gonzalez, and Latos. While far from dominant, this rotation combined with a potent lineup, great defense, and a shutdown bullpen would make the Orioles serious contenders under Showalter’s command. Additionally, these smart and frugal moves would allow the Orioles to bring Davis back into the fold and make the #14 overall pick in June.