Baltimore Orioles: Free Agent Options Still Available Before Spring
The Baltimore Orioles are still in the market for another veteran starting pitcher and possibly a veteran infielder.
Coming off year one of a complete rebuild, the Baltimore Orioles know there is a needed improvement in their player personnel and performance. What pieces can the Birds add to boost their roster without disrupting the current development plan?
As the Super Bowl prepares to kick off, we are just a few weeks away from spring training. For some teams, it means the start of a “World Series or bust” campaign. For others, like the Orioles, it has a different connotation.
The question sweeping around Birdland seems to be, what is Mike Elias is going to do next? The general manager has already made substantial changes to the organization, shipping off a number of veterans in offseason deals, working the waiver wire to find a potential diamond in the rough, and continuing to build his talent pipeline down on the farm.
What moves could we see next? What should the Orioles do to fill in some obvious gaps on the diamond?
The glaring solution to the Orioles’ struggles of late has been the lack of pitching, whether it be starters, relievers or closers. The Orioles had the worst ERA in the big leagues last season and surrendered a record number of home runs. High-priced free agents won’t be coming anytime soon, instead, the Orioles will continue to evaluate pitchers already in the system and cycle through low-cost/veteran options.
The 2020 rotation should include names like John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, and possibly David Hess. Don’t get startled, help is on the way. Starting pitching prospects Grayson Rodriguez (#34 prospect/MLB Pipeline) and DL Hall (#69 prospect/MLB Pipeline) could be up with the organization within a couple of years.
In the meantime, the Orioles are looking for low-cost veteran options to come in and compete for a rotation spot. Former Seattle Mariner Wade LeBlanc was added on Tuesday night to a minor league contract.
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MASN’s Roch Kubakto is reporting that the Orioles aren’t done with their search for starting pitching help. As of Wednesday, the following veterans are all still on the market and could fit a need: Jhoulys Chacin, Andrew Cashner, Jason Vargas, Aaron Sanchez, Matt Harvey, and Trevor Cahill.
There has also been some talk this offseason about adding another veteran reliever to the mix. Some of these options could include Sam Dyson, David Phelps, Jonny Venters, Pat Neshek, Pedro Strop, and Aaron Loup. (Editor’s Note- Phelps signed with the Milwaukee Brewers immediately after this piece was published)
What does the Orioles infield look like in 2020? Well, let’s go around the bases. At first base, Chris Davis will continue to start with Trey Mancini coming in from the outfield on some days. At second base, we could see Hanser Alberto, Richard Ureña and Ryan Mountcastle later in the season.
Newly signed shortstop Jose Iglesias will man shortstop, with Richie Martin and Richard Ureña in the mix for the backup job. Third base will likely be manned by Rio Ruiz, with Hanser Alberto and Renato Nunez seeing time in the hot corner.
With odds appearing likely that Richie Martin begins the year in the minors, the Orioles are still in the market for a middle infielder. Someone who can slot in at third base wouldn’t hurt. Brian Dozier, Brock Holt, Brad Miller, Wilmer Flores, and Scooter Gennett are all still available, with some third base options like Sean Rodríguez, Matt Duffy, and Jung Ho Kang also still looking for employment. Many of these names fit the versatility mold that the Orioles are in the market for.