As we head into the throes of holiday season, baseball’s hot stove period is nearing its midway point. And while the Orioles have made a few moves by trading for first baseman Mark Trumbo and re-signing Darren O'Day, there is still heavy lifting to be done before the team heads to Sarasota for spring training in February.
Here are the three areas the Orioles still need to address now that we're halfway through the offseason:
1. The Chris Davis saga. It seems the Orioles' negotiations to re-sign free agent slugger Davis continue to drag on at a snail's pace. If their reported offer of seven years, $150 million is still on the table, Dan Duquette and company have to find a way to get a decision out of the 29-year-old first baseman and agent Scott Boras soon. If he signs, then Baltimore will have kept its biggest and best power bat. If he doesn't, then the O's are free to use that money to fill other holes. Whatever the outcome, they'll be better off once this standstill is over.
2. Finding an everyday corner outfielder. One of the biggest disappointments for the Orioles in 2015 was that they couldn't adequately replace Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz once they left for free agency last winter. Other than stalwart centerfielder Adam Jones, Baltimore's outfield was seemingly reshuffling the deck every few weeks. Whether it was Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Travis Snider, David Lough or Delmon Young, the Birds simply couldn't find players to lock down either of the corner outfield spots.
That has to change this offseason. So far, the O's are said to have been interested in some of the big names out there such as Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes. But is it likely that this team, which has historically shied away from handing out big free agent contracts, would be willing to spend the type of cash it would take to acquire those players? There doesn't seem to be much of a precedent for it — especially if the aforementioned Davis is re-signed. That said, the second-tier options like Denard Span and Alex Gordon could fill the void, provided that they can stay healthy.
3. Acquiring a starting pitcher (or two) to replace Wei-Yin Chen. It seems apparent that if the Orioles are to find significant help in the rotation in the next few months, Duquette will have to get resourceful. The top-end arms are either no longer available or out of the Birds’ price range, so once again the second-tier market is key. Baltimore has been reportedly linked to Scott Kazmir, Mat Latos and Yovani Gallardo during the past few weeks — each of whom would be a big help for a group that ranked 25th in the majors in starter ERA at 4.53.