Baltimore Orioles: 3 free-agent relievers who could help in 2019

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 26: The Oriole Bird mascot waves an American flag from the press box during the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 26: The Oriole Bird mascot waves an American flag from the press box during the Baltimore Orioles and Cincinnati Reds at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 26, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Orioles had one of the worst bullpens in MLB in 2018. A couple cheap free-agent acquisitions could not only help the O’s in 2019, but could potentially be flipped for assets at the trade deadline

Relief pitchers in today’s game are extremely volatile and the Baltimore Orioles have a comprehensive understanding of this. The O’s used 30 pitchers in 2018, including Jace Peterson and Danny Valencia and almost none of them had any success.

Richard Bleier was good before he got hurt, Darren O’Day was serviceable before he was traded, and Paul Fry posted a respectable 3.11 FIP with a 36/15 K/UIBB.

Outside of those three, the Orioles bullpen was a revolving door of mediocrity, occasionally posting average results but more frequently posting terrible ones.

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One of the biggest areas of improvement for the Orioles next year is in the bullpen. If they can scrape together average results from their relievers, they’ll be vastly better than they were this year.

The Orioles do have a ton of young, cost-controlled pitching in the system but quantity doesn’t necessarily equal quality, and in this case, the Orioles might need to buy some success in the bullpen.

The day will come when Keegan Akin, D.L. Hall, Zac Lowther and Dean Kremer lead the Orioles pitching staff, but it probably won’t come in 2019.

There will be a few affordable options on the free-agent market to bolster the Orioles bullpen; here are three names who could help the Orioles in 2019, and if everything goes right could be moved for assets at the trade deadline or during the 2019 offseason.

Keep in mind that the Orioles won’t be signing any top-tier free-agents; these will be lower tier guys who could make an impact for cheap.

Justin Wilson, LHP

After making his debut for the Pirates in 2012, Wilson struggled for a few years before putting up a great second half for the Tigers in 2016.

He was very effective in the first half of 2017 before being moved to Chicago at the trade deadline. He had a few high-profile failures in September and October for the Cubs, which will have lower his value slightly.

Wilson has a career 3.30 FIP with a 15.5% K-BB rate, and his fastball sits 95-97. The fastball is his best pitch, but he also has a great cutter and an effective slider.

Wilson will be entering his age-32 season in 2019 and he should be affordable enough, likely less than $5 million per year.

There’s a chance that teams will be scared off a bit after his struggles in the postseason with Chicago, but at the very least, Wilson would provide some stability to a bullpen that has been completely devoid of it.

Adam Warren, RHP

Coming into 2018, Warren had a career 3.83 FIP and 2.53 K/BB rate. In 2018, between the Yankees and Mariners, he posted a 3.94 FIP, 3.14 ERA and his 9.1 K/9 was the highest of his career.

He struggled with his command at times, posting the second highest walk rate of his career but the 31-year-old was still more effective than any pitcher in the Orioles pen.

The downside to Warren is that his fastball sits in the low-90’s; we’ve seen the growing importance of fastball velocity for relief pitchers and Warren just doesn’t have it.

Warren would likely be fairly cheap; he made just $3.3 million in 2018. The Orioles could get him on a one or two year deal for less than $5 million per year.

The likelihood that Warren could be flipped at the deadline for real assets to help build the prospect pool is slimmer than you’d like, but even if the Orioles can’t get much for him, the bullpen would be drastically improved with Warren in it.

Tyler Clippard, RHP

Clippard has pitched for 8 MLB teams in the past five years but he’s been mostly effective on the mound outside of his 14 innings in Houston at the end of 2017.

Clippard has always been a high-strikeout pitcher even without top-tier fastball velocity. His biggest issue is his command; his career 3.7 BB/9 isn’t encouraging even with the double-digit K/9 upside.

The Blue Jays signed him for $1.5 million in the 2017 offseason and it seems likely that the Orioles could get him on a similar contract this year.

The Orioles would certainly be able to move Clippard at the deadline if he were pitching well and if not, he’s so affordable that it wouldn’t have any real impact on payroll.

These four players were much worse than expected in 2018. dark. Next

The common theme with these pitchers is their affordability. There are much better options out there, but the Orioles won’t be looking to sign anyone in the Craig Kimbrel/David Robertson/Cody Allen tier of relievers.

But the Orioles need to make improvements in the bullpen heading into 2019, and the current roster just doesn’t feel like it’ll get the job done; we saw what they had this year and it was embarrassing.

There’s an obvious opportunity for improvement here; hopefully the Orioles realize that and capitalize on it.