Spring training begins in 15 days, and while there are still moves to be made for the Orioles, let’s look ahead and see what the biggest storylines in Sarasota are likely to be.
1) Who’s going to be the fifth starter?
In words, the Orioles biggest priority this offseason was to improve their pitcher. In deeds, their biggest priority was to re-sign Chris Davis.
Without Wei-Yin Chen, the Orioles starting rotation has Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez and Ubaldo Jimenez.
There needs to be a fifth starter.
Other than a change of heart and a decision to forfeit the 14th pick in the draft for a declining Yovani Gallardo, the Orioles will look internally first.
The killer W’s: Tyler Wilson, Vance Worley and Mike Wright have the first opportunity.
Wilson and Wright have options remaining. Worley doesn’t.
There’s always the bounceback starter option. Mat Latos’ has been linked with the team for a number of weeks, but he remains unsigned.
The Orioles could also make a late trade. Around this time four years ago, they dealt away Jeremy Guthrie, but don’t have a lot they’re willing to trade.
2) Who’s going to play right field?
There are many more attractive free agent candidates here than there are among starting pitchers.
Matt Joyce, David Murphy, Will Venable, Shane Victorino—and others.
A left-handed or switch hitter is preferable.
For the moment, Nolan Reimold is the likely right field starter, but they’d really like another left-handed hitter.
The answer to this question could help answer this next one, too.
3) Who’s going to lead off?
Manager Buck Showalter’s choices seem to be Reimold, Hyun-soo Kim or Manny Machado.
Machado had great success as a leadoff hitter, but Showalter might want to move him lower in the lineup.
Kim has great on-base numbers in South Korea, but he’s on the heavy side for a leadoff guy, and if a right-handed hitter led off, he could bat second with Adam Jones third and Chris Davis fourth.
Reimold has had some experience batting first and it didn’t go badly.
It could also be someone who’s not currently on the roster.
4) How will Kim adapt to playing in the U.S.?
It’s generally assumed that Kim will play left field, but no one has seen him play yet.
That’s a lot of pressure on a player who has yet to experience the rigors of U.S. baseball.
Kim has been working out with Brady Anderson, who insists that players be in tip-top shape, and if he can do well with him, then that’s a strong recommendation.
He showed lots of power as well as the on-base ability in South Korea, and if he could hit 15 home runs with a .285 average, then that would be fine.
But, that’s a difficult assumption to make.
5) Will Dylan Bundy be healthy?
Five of the seven bullpen spots are accounted for with Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz and Darren O’Day.
As long as Bundy’s healthy, he’ll have the sixth spot.
Wilson, Worley or Wright could take the seventh. Or it could be Chaz Roe, who dazzled in his first two months with the Orioles and disappointed afterward.
He’s out of options, so if doesn’t make the team, he’d likely be lost on waivers. That’s the case with Worley, too.
T.J. McFarland still has an option, and he’ll probably spend time driving between Baltimore and Norfolk this year.
If Bundy has to start the season in extended spring training or totally on the shelf, that opens up another spot.
There are other questions, too. Who are going to get the final bench spots? It seems that if someone else isn’t signed, Efren Navarro and Rule 5 draft pick Joey Rickard have the advantage.
It’s a big spring for Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia, who’ll try and make strong impressions.
Showalter could decide to keep Paul Janish, who’s back on a minor league contract, too.
NOTE: The Orioles have signed left-handed pitcher Chris Dwyer to a minor league contract. Dwyer pitched three scoreless innings for Kansas City in 2013.
RELATED: Who will be Orioles' Opening Day DH?