It’s January. You know what that means. Time for Dan Duquette to shine and pull in a few free agents who may or may not help the Orioles in 2017.
It’s been a quiet, quiet offseason for the Baltimore Orioles, eerily reminiscent of the abysmal winter that followed the 2014 trip to the ALCS. That year, all the Orioles managed to do was bring back Delmon Young and trade for Travis Snider. For the Orioles, attempting to replace Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis with Young, Snider, and Alejandro De Aza worked out..well…poorly.
The 2016-17 offseason is shaping up to be another late push for the Orioles and GM Dan Duquette. Last year, Chris Davis signed in January with Pedro Alvarez, and Yovani Gallardo joining the O’s closer to Spring Training. Dexter Fowler was very nearly added to the fold, but the Orioles quibbled over a player option and missed out. Losing Fowler still stings, as he is the perfect compliment to the swing hard, early, and often approach most of the lineup employs.
Right now, the Orioles need to add a right fielder or designated hitter, a left-handed power bat wouldn’t hurt either. Same goes for a left-handed relief pitcher. Duquette has yet to make any signings of consequence since the offseason began, so it should be safe to assume he is sitting on a sizable pile of cash.
The Orioles have been linked to quite a few free agents this offseason, so without further ado, let’s dive right in and evaluate the potential remaining options and spend Dan Duquette’s money for him.
Michael Bourn, OF
Michael Bourn came over at the end of last season, and put up some respectable numbers for the Orioles. In 24 games, he slashed .283/.358/.435 with two homers and two steals. Buck Showalter fancied Bourn a more capable right fielder than Mark Trumbo, and he got a fair amount of run in the corner in September. Showalter liked what Bourn brought to the lineup and the clubhouse, and the feeling appeared to be mutual.
At 34, Bourn may have one or two more years of productive baseball in him. His defense is regressing as his range decreases, and his arm has never been great. Still, he is an upgrade over Trumbo in right field. A reunion with Bourn on a one-year deal could interest the Orioles if they strike out on all of their other targets.
If Bourn returns to the Orioles, he would give Showalter another left-handed option for the corners with Hyun Soo Kim. He has very solid career numbers against right-handed pitching. Ideally the Orioles will do better than Bourn, but it’s still hard to gauge how aggressive they plan to be in the final months of the offseason.