It has been a frustrating yet predictable offseason for Orioles fans. After accruing their most wins in a regular season since 1979, the team failed to win a game in the Postseason when they were swept by the seemingly unstoppable Texas Rangers.
The Postseason showed off some glaring holes for the Orioles on a national stage as their starting pitching struggled and the bullpen could not find enough success to help the team win despite a strong offensive showing in Game Two. It is no secret that the starting rotation is far from perfect and will need some improvements if the Orioles want to contend for a World Series title in 2024.
Of course, the Orioles have only seemed to sit idly by and watch as attainable free agents such as Sonny Gray and Eduardo Rodriguez sign elsewhere. So far, the only meaningful offseason move was the addition of Craig Kimbrel to the back end of the bullpen in hopes of a viable replacement for Felix Bautista in the closer's role.
The Orioles have also been linked to Dylan Cease over the trade deadline and now the same song-and-dance routine is playing out this offseason. Instead of Cease at the deadline, the Orioles settled for Jack Flaherty to little success. Last offseason, the Orioles tried to patch up holes in the rotation with Kyle Gibson and Cole Irvin, neither of whom were successful enough to start a Postseason game and neither would have likely made a start even if the O's appeared in Game 7 of the World Series.
All this being said, the Orioles seem to have a difficult time committing to any high-caliber players that would either require giving up prospects or dishing out a contract longer than one year. I have a hard time falling for the Dylan Cease hype simply because I do not believe the Orioles can make that caliber of trade in their current configuration. A rumor has recently surfaced that links the Orioles with a pitcher more up their ally, that being Domingo German of the New York Yankees.
Should the Orioles pursue Domingo German in free agency?
When discussing German, the first important thing to discuss is some unfortunate off-the-field events that occurred back in 2019. German was charged with domestic violence that year and suspended 81 games by Major League Baseball, which resulted in him missing the final month of the '19 season as well as the entirety of the 2020 COVID-shortened season before he returned to the Yankees in 2021.
Of course, addressing issues such as domestic violence are difficult and have much larger consequences than the game of baseball itself. Regardless of how you feel about the suspension or whether or not German is deserving of the opportunity to play baseball at all, his past is certainly a factor to consider for the Orioles. There is no question that signing German would lead to all sorts of negative press surrounding the team and could cause tension in the clubhouse.
The second storyline that surrounds German is the night of June 28th, 2023 when he made a start against the struggling Athletics in Oakland. That night, it took German only 99 pitches to author the first perfect game since Felix Hernandez pitched one against the Rays more than a decade earlier.
Along with not allowing a baserunner, German struck out nine batters with 72 of his 99 pitches going for strikes. This historic start also came one start after one of the worst outings of his career when he allowed 10 runs in 3.1 innings pitched to the Mariners en route to a 10-2 loss for the Yankees.
There is a lot more baggage and storylines that surround German than would normally surround a fifth-starter type because of his off-the-field past and his historic performance one fateful night in late June. These storylines aside, German is the epitome of average. Over his career, he has a 97 ERA+ along with a 4.41 ERA and 4.50 FIP.
The best season of his career came in 2019 before the suspension as he pitched to a 110 ERA+ in 143.0 innings pitched. He also had an eye-popping 18-4 record which was more of a testament to the Yankees dominance that season than it was to German's accolades. Despite the career season, Domingo still finished with nearly two home runs allowed per nine innings and finished with a below-average 1.9 fWAR.
Since returning from his suspension in 2021, German has struggled with injuries which have kept him off the field for significant time as he pitched less than 100 innings in '21 and '22 and missed the last two months of the '23 season.
He also uses a three-pitch mix with his fastball as his weakest pitch which works off his curveball and changeup. According to Baseball-Savant, he ranks in the 92nd percentile for chase percentage as well as the 79th percentile in whiff percentage. His fastball itself sits around 92 miles per hour which ranked in the 18th percentile.
If the Orioles are truly interested in Domingo German, he is the caliber of pitcher who is not much better than the other pitchers they acquired over the past year in Flaherty and Irvin. Domingo also carries a lot of issues with his past which could threaten the strong team chemistry which led the Orioles to their 101-win season last year.
Signing Domingo German would not be worth it for the Orioles given the negative publicity that would surround the trade and the subsequent mediocrity that would not make the negativity worth the while.