The Baltimore Orioles finished the 2020 season 25-35, one game ahead of the Boston Red Sox for last place in the American League East. Although the season wasn’t great, it was certainly a step forward for the O’s after losing over 100 games the last two seasons. What do they need to do to push the rebuild along?
Much like the Milwaukee Brewers, the Orioles need an infield. Aside from Hanser Alberto, Baltimore has question marks around from first to third. First baseman Renato Nunez was released. Andrew Velazquez and Rio Ruiz should not be manning the left side of the infield on a daily basis. The O’s have the ability to spend a little cash this offseason. They are looking at about a $60-$70 million dollar payroll as they hit the free-agent market. While Peter Angelos hasn’t spent money, aside from Chris Davis…ugh, over the past few years, Peter’s son John is now in control of the Orioles. It may be time that the son spends some of dad’s cash.
Baltimore was in the middle of the pack in many pitching categories, but credit for that belongs to their bullpen more than their starters. The pen actually has a few decent arms and plenty of options. The staff, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc are free agents. Although their departures don’t sound catastrophic, they did combine to start 12 games last season. With Alex Cobb entering the final season of his deal, and John Means taking a step back, the Orioles need a couple of starters to fill the gap.
Keys to the Offseason
Spend up the Middle
There are some good shortstop and second base options out there this offseason. Alberto has shown he is an above-average third baseman defensively so a move to the hot corner shouldn’t be out of the question. Bringing in a new middle infield combo could be just what the Orioles need to solidify their infield. And though they moved on from Nunez, Trey Mancini is expected to be back to full strength for the 2021 season and will man first base.
Solidify the Rotation
This will be Cobb’s last year in Baltimore. Means had an excellent 42/7 K/BB rate but couldn’t keep the ball in the park allowing 12 HRs in just 43 2/3 innings. He could easily get back to being a solid starter. Keegan Akin also showed some promise. In his six starts, he faced 102 batters. The lefty struck out 34 of them while allowing only two HRs. With young left-handers Kevin Smith and DL Hall possibly pushing their way onto the big club as soon as next season, the Orioles could look for a starter on a long-term deal to anchor the staff.
Didi Gregorius, 30, SS
Gregorius proved his health last season with the Philadelphia Phillies playing in all 60 games. He also had an excellent year at the plate slashing .284/.339/.488 with 10 HRs. Didi also brings some playoff experience with him and knowledge of the AL East from his five years with the New York Yankees. The Orioles could likely sign Sir Didi for three or four years at around $12-$15 per year.
Kolten Wong, 30, 2B
The former first-round pick just won his second straight Gold Glove and is arguably the best defensive second baseman over the last three years with 41 DRS. What Wong may lack in power, he makes up for with speed and a great eye at the plate (8.9% BB rate, 14.7% K Rate since 2017). Baltimore could probably sign him to a deal similar to Gregorius.
Taijuan Walker, 28, SP
Walker looked like his old self last season after missing most of 2018 and 2019. At just 28 and with low mileage on his arm, the Orioles could lock him in for a long-term deal in the hopes he continues to build on his success. He would be a perfect fit for the Orioles to pair with Means as the young guys move up. Baltimore could lock him in Camden Yards for four or five years at $12-$15 per year.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images