The Orioles are keeping tracking of how these players are performing.
The Orioles might be done playing baseball for the year, but the front office never stops working. With a busy offseason looming, they are following the playoff performances of upcoming free agents and potential trade targets. Since taking over in late-2018, Mike Elias and company have been very tight lipped about transactions plans, so any predictions or trends you hear about are merely based on observing past moves. We only know Elias likes drafting up-the-middle hitters because that’s what he has done in the past, and the strategy seems to be paying off.
The GM said he is willing to dramatically increase payroll this winter but hasn’t really commented on specific needs. The Orioles could use some more oomph in the lineup and a frontline starter, so I will be focusing on those types of players. I do not think any of the hitters in the first round are terribly realistic targets, though. Fans don’t know who the team really wants to sign, so these are educated guesses.
Chris Bassitt is one of the better starting pitchers hitting the free agent market after a great second half, but he did not have his best stuff Sunday night. if you look at his pitch chart, his fantastically slow curveball wasn’t quite landing, and Austin Nola got a crucial RBI-single through the hole off of it. Only three curveballs found the bottom edge of the strike zone, while others were hittable or too far off the plate. Bassitt relies on his two-seamer but did not consistently locate it on the inner half to righties. Padres hitters called many timeouts at the plate, and I think they did disrupt Bassitt’s rhythm. They hit him around for three runs in four innings. That won’t be a problem during the regular season, but something to keep in mind for future playoff games.
San Diego might be more inclined to keep Blake Snell after a much-improved second half, but he could still be a trade candidate. The same is probably true of Anthony Santander, but the Orioles could send Austin Hays and a mid-tier prospect west instead. Snell’s control is the main reason he has struggled the past couple seasons, and it was quite poor in Game 2. He threw a lot of non-competitive fastballs above the zone, and many of his sliders didn’t finish, either. His changeup is his fourth pitch, but I think he should throw it more often, especially since he faces many more righties than lefties. He only went three and a third, with two runs and six walks.
The best time for the Orioles to sign Jose Quintana would have been a year ago as a buy-low move, which the Pirates did in a similar rebuilding situation. He had arguably his best season ever and was even better after a deadline trade to the Cardinals. The Wild Card loss certainly wasn’t his fault, as Quintana pitched five and a third shutout innings against a good lineup, allowing only two hits and a walk. He threw most of his fastballs up in the zone while using his sharp curveball in the zone and as a finisher. He also spotted his changeup outside to righties. Whatever Quintana has figured out this year, he should stick with it. The lefty will get a big pay raise over the $2M he made this season.
Bounce back candidates: Adam Frazier, Jesse Winker, Carlos Santana, Trent Grisham, Wil Myers, Alec Bohm, Corey Kluber
Tough ask: Brandon Nimmo, Mitch Haniger, Jacob DeGrom, Jean Segura, Nolan Arenado, David Robertson, Josh Naylor, Ji-Man Choi, David Peralta