Handing out a final grade for the Orioles offseason moves

The Baltimore Orioles had an off-season to remember as they gear up for a run in 2024
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Oriole Park at Camden Yards / Kirby Lee/GettyImages

The wait is finally over. Baseball has returned for the 2024 season. Baltimore Orioles fans had gotten used to slow off-seasons where the O's made several smart moves, but never anything that excited people. Year after year we watched as other teams signed the big name free agents or traded for impact players while the Birds took the slow and steady route. As they say, slow and steady wins the race and the Orioles were winners this year.

GM Mike Elias started the off-season in his usual way, making moves to increase the team's depth when the Birds claimed LHP Tucker Davidson off waivers from the Kansas City Royals in late October and outfielder Sam Hilliard from the Atlanta Braves on November 1. Both players have major league experience and a chance to contribute in Baltimore this season but aren't expected to be major contributors.

The first big move of the off-season came on December 6th when the Orioles signed free agent closer Craig Kimbrel to fill the void left by Felix Bautista. Kimbrel is a few years and a few teams removed from his days as arguably the best closer in the business for the Braves, but he still has some good miles left as evidenced by his all-star appearance last season.

Kimbrel is currently 8th all-time with 417 career saves (Kenley Jansen is the only active player ahead of him with 420). With a good season as the primary closer on one of baseball's best teams, he could easily finish the year 4th all-time behind only Mariano Rivera (652), Trevor Hoffman (601) and former Oriole Lee Smith (478).

The Orioles franchise made several moves in January that ended with maybe the most exciting move of any team. First, they signed 19 international free agents, a market they have been expanding into in recent years. Then, the O's made a curious trade to bring INF Tyler Nevin back to Baltimore, as well as adding outfielder Daniel Johnson and LHP's Ronald Guzman and Andrew Suarez on minor league contracts to further bolster depth.

The real excitement came on January 31 when it was announced that a group led by Baltimore native David Rubenstein that also includes Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr had agreed to purchase the Orioles. Fans who had grown accustomed to watching the O's front office do the best they could while being handcuffed by a limited budget suddenly had a newfound hope.

A hope that the Orioles not only would go out and acquire one or two big name players to help bring a World Series back to Baltimore but also that the Birds could re-sign the homegrown talent that John Angelos had said would be impossible to sign without significant increases to ticket prices.

Some of those hopes were immediately realized the very next day. On February 1 the Orioles traded LHP DL Hall, INF Joey Ortiz and cash considerations to the Milwaukee Brewers for RHP Corbin Burnes. Burnes is a Cy Young winner has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for several years now, and the Orioles acquired him for a lower price than many people expected.

Elias was quick to point out that Angelos is still the owner of the team and he had to approve the trade, but this move is very out of character for Angelos and it coincidentally was just one day after the potential sale was announced.

Corbin Burnes
Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game One / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

The O's completed the off-season by acquiring INF Nick Maton from the Detroit Tigers and claiming INF Livan Soto from the Los Angeles Angels. Maton and Soto filled the two remaining spots on the 40-man roster and will provide valuable infield depth for the Orioles.

The Orioles addressed their needs by signing a closer and a top-tier starter. They did not lose any of the top talent from the 2023 season and they strengthened the minor league depth.

All of that added to the potential sale of the organization brings the Orioles final off-season grade to an A.

The only thing keeping this grade from being an A+ is the fact that none of the returning stars have been given contract extensions, something that I believe will be quickly addressed once the sale of the franchise is finalized.