Happy New Year to all of the Baltimore Orioles fans out there. There are fewer than 90 days remaining until Opening Day.
Prior to Opening Day, the Baltimore Orioles have several needs to fill.
While no big signings have been made, the Orioles may have already filled them with under-the-radar acquisitions.
What about the pitching?
The biggest need the Orioles have is a starting rotation that is only 40% filled. While a five-man rotation is the norm, some teams are moving into a six-man rotation. On the Orioles MLB website, the depth chart shows four pitchers on the mound: Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Gabriel Ynoa, and Alec Asher.
And, Ynoa and Asher have yet to prove that they can successfully start on a regular basis.
The Orioles have signed a bunch of pitchers so far this off-season, but none of them have much if any Big League experience. The 40-man roster is filled with names of players who were moved up to protect them from the Rule-5 draft. The rest were drafted in that same program. Seven men on the current 40-man roster do not even have numbers assigned to them.
There is a chance that these are the men that the Orioles will put on the mound when the season rolls around. Dan Duquette’s moves in the next couple of weeks will fill us all in on that.
The issue in right field
The other need that still exists is an everyday right fielder. Looking at the depth chart on the MLB site, the Orioles have three players who could be assigned that position on any given day. They include Mark Trumbo, Joey Rickard, and Austin Hays. While it could be exciting to see Hays get a shot at that spot, he did not show that he was ready for daily MLB play at the end of 2017.
In fact, not one of the names attached to that position brings any sort of comfort to fans. Of course, Trumbo has proven that he can hit 20 or more home runs in a season – even in an off-season. But, his ability to play right field is limited. Rickard finished the 2017 season was a WAR of 0.7. His fielding is solid, but his offense is limited. Then, there is the uncertainty of Hays.
The big problem is that there are right fielders out there who can play defense and hit the ball. Instead of sticking someone who can only do one or other, the Orioles could and should invest in someone who can do both.
Filling these holes with players who can help the team should be the top priority as we enter this new year. Without more experienced pitching and good right fielder, the Orioles will have difficulty contending in the AL East.