This offseason, everything seems to be coming up in the Baltimore Orioles' favor. Mike Elias is Executive of the Year, Brandon Hyde is Manager of the Year, Gunnar Henderson is Rookie of the Year. Despite the team's disappointing postseason, their continually reinforced excellence makes their loss in the ALDS seem more and more like a weird fluke. There are a lot of things about the Orioles core that will look the same going into 2024, but there's always room for improvement. Winter Meetings might be the perfect place to find it.
What are the Winter Meetings?
The Winter Meetings are a yearly four-day conference that gathers representatives from all 30 MLB teams to negotiate trades among themselves, sign free agents, and getting closer to finalizing the teams they'll put on the field in 2024. Most of the offseason's most high-profile signings and trades are done at the meetings. Last year, the Orioles signed ace Kyle Gibson to a one-year, $10 million dollar deal, and it's likely that they'll be shopping for his replacement this year. The 2023 Winter Meetings will be held from Dec. 3 - 6 in Nashville, TN.
What could the Orioles do at Winter Meetings?
Starting pitching is a major concern for a lot of teams this offseason, which is both a cause and effect of the overwhelming number of pitchers who became free agents on Nov. 2. The Orioles are a low-budget team that hasn't spend more than $100 million since Manny Machado and Adam Jones were still wearing orange. It's unlikely that will change this year, but there are a lot of good pitching options not named Blake Snell, Aaron Nola, or Jordan Montgomery that the Orioles should explore and pursue at Winter Meetings.
On the flip side, closing pitching is also a concern for the Orioles. Felix Bautista will be undergoing Tommy John surgery, keeping him off the mound in 2024. It's possible that the team could just adapt one or two of their current relievers to the role, or try to get by without a designated closer at all, but exploring that market could be an option
Rule 5 draft
The Rule 5 draft, made up of minor leaguers with 4-5 years of service time, also takes place during the Winter Meetings. Only teams without a full 40-man roster participate; as of writing, the Orioles have four open spots and chose not to protect their No. 17 prospect Hudson Haskin, the only of their top 30 prospects eligible for the draft.
MLB Draft lottery
The second MLB Draft lottery, wherein the 18 non-playoff teams will draw to determine draft order in 2024, will also take place during Winter Meetings. The Orioles, of course, were a playoff team, so their 24th place is already determined, down seven places from last year's draft.