Back in May, the Baltimore Orioles introduced a new gimmick to help bring even more fun to Camden Yards. Sitting just in front of section 86, Mr. Splash became a fun character for Orioles fans with his swimming attire and hose that he would use to spray fans whenever an Oriole got an extra base hit, or really anytime he got excited. Just about every Oriole had an exciting moment that allowed Mr. Splash to hose down the crowd, but with the season now over, the next splash could be made by Mike Elias.
The Orioles won 100 or more games for just the sixth time in franchise history. The Birds have a lot of talented players that are very good on both sides of the ball, and even more coming up from the minors next season. Elias has built a great team with even more potential, but there's always room for improvement. Here are a few free agent hitters the O's could target to help them take the next step.
What position players could the Orioles target in free agency?
If there was one thing missing from the Orioles offense this season, it was a feared home run hitter. There was power spread across the lineup as the O's did have eight different players with double digit homers, but much of that power comes from the left side of the plate. Jorge Soler is a big right handed bat that has the power to conquer Mt. Walltimore and drive the ball out to right field as well.
He's a former AL home run champion and his 36 homers from this season, would have led the Orioles by eight. Soler is a capable outfielder but plays primarily at DH. The two time World Series champion and former World Series MVP could fill the slot vacated by Aaron Hicks on the 40 man roster.
One thing the Orioles have done in recent off-seasons is to bring in veteran players to take on clubhouse leadership roles for this young team. Whit Merrifield could be that guy for the 2024 Orioles. The second base, shortstop and third base positions will likely be manned by players in their second full major league season or newer with several potentially big contributors set to make their debuts.
With Merrifield, the Birds would know exactly what they're getting. He's a professional hitter that can work the count and does a great job of getting on base. He fits the Orioles mold very well and is a step up from Adam Frazier. He plays the same positions, is a 2023 all-star and silver slugger nominee, with better speed. Merrifield is not left handed, but has reverse splits and hit right handed pitchers better than lefties.
If you want a player with speed, there are few that have more than Adalberto Mondesi. Mondesi has had some injury troubles in his career and missed the entire 2023 season after having his left ACL surgically repaired in May of 2022. His knee should hopefully be healed by the time spring training starts and hopefully it has not affected his sprint speed.
Before his injuries, Mondesi had multiple seasons with a 30 ft/s sprint speed, which is considered elite in the MLB. He is capable of playing multiple infield positions and can be a great pinch runner late in games. He has been a starter in his career but may be willing to accept a bench role until he can prove he is fully healthy again. Mondesi would fit nicely into the roster spot that many believe will be vacated by Jorge Mateo.
This suggestion might sting a little after Duvall hit that walk-off homer in the second game of the season, but in the end, the Orioles were able to overcome that game. Duvall got off to a blistering start for the Boston Red Sox putting up 15 hits (10 of which went for extra bases), 11 runs, and 13 RBI's in his first eight games before a wrist injury put him on the shelf for two months. It took him some time to get back to normal, even after returning to the team, but Duvall put up solid numbers for the season.
He still managed to hit 21 homers in just 320 at bats, which is approximately 1 homer per 15 at bats. The average starter in the majors gets between 500-600 at bats per season which would have put Duvall on a pace to hit 33-40 home runs. He's good on the bases and a former gold glove winner in the outfield. Duvall would be a big upgrade over Aaron Hicks and I'm sure Brandon Hyde could find him plenty of playing time.
The Orioles have an overflow of talent at just about every position and do not need to go out and sign anyone. They could simply stay the course and let players Coby Mayo, Jackson Holliday, Heston Kjerstad and Colton Cowser, among others, develop into the next generation of stars. While all of those players should be on the roster next season, they're not all guaranteed to be on the roster on opening day, so Elias and company could look to free agency to help bridge that gap and make this very good Orioles team even better.
This may seem like a cop out, but the Orioles resigning Aaron Hicks would be a very good move. He fits the Orioles mold, has a good command of the strike zone and makes pitchers work. Hicks also slashed .275/.382/.425 in his time in Baltimore while providing solid defense in the outfield. He played well as a part time replacement player and injury replacement when Cedric Mullins got injured and would be great in that role again next season.