A few comments from Dan Duquette stood out in last Thursday’s 2016 season retrospective.
Not only did he say the season just past was “a personal favorite of mine,” but he reiterated that the Orioles were committed to keeping the ballpark experience affordable to fans in the Baltimore area.
That means that ticket prices aren’t likely to be raised again, and the Orioles are probably not going to aggressively pursue big ticket free agents.
Of course, they could re-sign some of their own free agents and extend others who are under club control, but again don’t expect the Orioles to chase.
If there are what they perceive to be good values come February, maybe they’ll think again.
The Orioles’ 2016 season featured some good performances from players Duquette acquired for it: Michael Bourn, Hyun Soo Kim, Joey Rickard, Mark Trumbo and Vance Worley.
While much of the attention last offseason was on the re-signings of Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and Matt Wieters, Duquette was justifiably proud of his quintet of acquisitions, none of which generated much excitement at the time it was consummated.
Bourn was an Aug. 31 addition who provided speed and defense, Kim, a winter signing who was unknown to the fan base, Rickard, a Rule 5 draft pick, Trumbo, a shrewd trade and Worley, a waiver wire pickup nearly a year ago.
In the coming offseason, Duquette is likely to be busy trying to fill holes in the outfield, designated hitter and catching.
There will likely be countless moves, many of which will turn out to be meaningless, but he hopes a few that will be masterstrokes like the ones that made his season so enjoyable.
The Orioles will undoubtedly add a player or two from the Rule 5 draft as have in each of Duquette’s first five drafts.
The guess here is that they’ll look for an outfielder, like Rickard or a utility player in the Ryan Flaherty mold. Flaherty was Duquette’s first Rule 5 pick.
Last week, the Orioles made their first move of the offseason, adding left-handed pitcher Jed Bradley from Atlanta. Soon the team will start adding and subtracting players from the 40-man roster.
They’ll have to add Rickard and left-handed pitcher Christopher Lee from the 60-day disabled list. Steve Pearce, who is also on the 60-day DL, is a coming free agent.
Bourn, Pearce, Trumbo, Wieters as well as Pedro Alvarez, Brian Duensing, Tommy Hunter, Nolan Reimold and Drew Stubbs will also be free agents.
There will be some internal additions from the minors and more waiver claims. Often those players stay on the 40-man for a few days until Duquette finds a player he likes a little more.
Last year, the Orioles stockpiled left-handed pitchers, but two of them, Edgar Olmos, a waiver claim, and C.J. Riefenhauser, acquired along with Trumbo, weren’t with the team very long at all.
Olmos returned to the team in spring training and was actually at Sarasota in the final weeks of the season had a need arisen.
The Orioles will also sign some minor league free agents. Last year, they signed a South Korean first baseman Ji-Man Choi to a minor league contract. He was quickly lost to the Angels in the Rule 5 draft.
Many more of those moves will be coming this offseason. Some will work out.