Baltimore Orioles: What’s Next After Iglesias Signing?
By Nick Stevens
The Baltimore Orioles made a solid signing by inking Jose Iglesias to a deal. What happens next?
Despite Mother Nature dumping her first snowstorm up here in the mountains of Virginia where I live on Tuesday afternoon, baseball season is rapidly approaching. Pitchers and catchers begin reporting in approximately five weeks, with the first spring training games scheduled to begin on February 21st. The Baltimore Orioles will kick off their Grapefruit League schedule against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, February 22nd.
Last week, the Orioles signed their first true major league free agent in shortstop Jose Iglesias. While he wasn’t the biggest free agent available and he isn’t suddenly making Brandon Hyde‘s squad a .500 club, his plus-glove, and experience will provide a huge boost to the Orioles defense up the middle, provide an inexperienced pitching staff with some help, and allow more developmental time for 2019 Rule 5 pick Richie Martin.
The Orioles aren’t opening up the checkbook between now and Opening Day, but there are still improvements that can be made to the current roster without upsetting the long-term plans in place. There are also some items on Mike Elias’ offseason shopping list that he may still want to check off.
So, where do the Orioles go from here?
Well, we know a fourth catcher could still enter the mix. Old friend Caleb Joseph has been thrown around as an idea. He still has a minor league option remaining, making him flexible to move between Triple-A Norfolk and Baltimore. As a true fan of the Tides organization, I’d love to see Caleb Joseph down at Harbor Park.
We also looked at the idea of Eric Haase as a potential fit, but he was just traded to Detroit for cash considerations after being designated for assignment. There seems to be a small run on backup, low-cost catchers recently, so maybe we see a veteran join the club on a minor league deal soon.
I’m fine with what the Orioles have in the bullpen, for now. We could see another veteran brought in on a minor league deal to compete, but there are enough young options, such as Dillon Tate, Branden Kline, and Evan Phillips who I would like to see get a fair amount of innings next to Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Richard Bleier, Shawn Armstrong, and Mychal Givens out of the pen.
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There could be one final deal to make with a major league free agent. Alex Cobb‘s health is a serious concern and those in consideration for the starting rotation are young, very young. A few free agents we have previously highlighted are still available, like Jhoulys Chacin, Alex Wood, Taijuan Walker, Ivan Nova, and Collin McHugh. Old friend Andrew Cashner is also still available and a few outlets have recently discussed the possibility of adding him.
Cashner loved Baltimore, had one of the better performances of his career last season in an Orioles uniform and works well with pitching coach Doug Brocail. A cheap contract loaded with incentives and Cashner comes back for another season to help bridge the gap to the long list of prospects closing in on Camden Yards? I’m down, why not?
None of the starters listed will command large contracts and have all had success in the past. Keegan Akin and the two Rule 5 picks in Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker are in the mix for the rotation, alongside John Means, Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, Kohl Stewart, and David Hess. A low-cost veteran could go a long way in helping out this rotation as they attempt to get through the 2020 season.
Plenty of smaller moves will still be made, like many more minor league deals and maybe a trade involving a veteran currently on the 40-man (Givens? Mancini?). With only a few weeks before spring training gets underway, expect some more noise (quieter noise) to be made soon.