Orioles

Available players who could fill needs for the Orioles

Orioles

The Orioles have made it clear through both their actions and their words that they don't see themselves as buyers this offseason. GM Mike Elias has regularly pointed out that the team's goals are the same as when he first took the job in the 2018 offseason - establishing a talent pipeline through all levels of the organization. 

That means putting resources toward the farm system, whether it's through an added emphasis on international signings or a focus on the draft itself. What it does not mean is adding big-name (or, more importantly, expensive) free agents.

That can make for a less exciting winter in Baltimore. This week's Winter Meetings were always going to be quieter than usual thanks to the pandemic, so the most interesting day for the Orioles is (as usual) going to be Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Still, even though the Orioles aren't going to be pursuing the Trevor Bauer's and J.T. Realmuto's of the world, it doesn't mean they aren't looking to build off an interesting 2020 season. And there are good values to be found on the open market, if you know where to look.

Here are a few positions Elias has already mentioned as areas of need for the Orioles to address this offseason.

Infield

The Orioles have pointed to shortstop as an area to target, an obvious hole after trading away 2020's starter Jose Iglesias. There aren't a lot of obvious candidates on the shortstop market, though one that stands out is Andrelton Simmons, who played for Iglesias' new team, the Angels.

 

Simmons is a jaw-dropping defensive player, perhaps the most talented shortstop in baseball history. He also has an inconsistent bat and is 31-years old, but his glove is so valuable it's hard to worry about the other flaws. Not only would Simmons be great in the field, but his high-level defense would help the Orioles' young starting pitchers in their development by giving them a strong defense behind them.

The O's could also use some infield depth around the horn after non-tendering Hanser Alberto and designating Renato Nunez for assignment. They still have Rio Ruiz at third base and added Yolmer Sanchez, who can play either second base or shortstop. Their depth chart also includes Pat Valaika and Richie Martin, too.

If they're interested in kicking the tires on bringing back former O's, Jonathan Villar, Jonathan Schoop and Alberto himself could all fill needs in the infield, though it's likely they've priced themselves out of what the Orioles are willing to pay.

Former Phillies and Royals third baseman Maikel Franco, who has been non-tendered by his last two clubs, fits the profile of a talented but inconsistent player looking for a one-year prove-it deal, too.

Starting pitching

Starting pitching depth has been an area of need in Baltimore for multiple decades, so it's no surprise it was the other hole mentioned by Elias. The Orioles are starting to build some really strong starting pitching in the minors, but most of their big-name prospects are still multiple years away from the big league club. Even players who are close to the Majors are hard to trust after missing the entire 2020 minor league season.

There are so many pitchers on the market, and pitching prices are always inflated because every team needs arms every offseason, so it's hard to narrow down a list. A few names stand out after being non-tendered or released by their own teams, and therefore potentially willing to take smaller deals - Carlos Rodon (White Sox), Jose Urena (Marlins) and Tyler Anderson (Giants), to name a few.

Rodon is a former top-three pick who has ridiculous stuff but has dealt with multiple major injuries to his arm. He would be an intriguing high-risk, high-reward arm if the O's believe in his medicals and that they can develop him in a way Chicago could not. Urena was a talented arm that Miami wasn't willing to pay along with their other rotation depth. And Anderson is an innings-eater who can help fill a rotation slot in Baltimore.

One other smaller name out there is Taijuan Walker, another highly-talented but often-injured and erratic starting pitcher. Walker looked strong in his 2020 return to the mound and is still just 28-years old, making him another interesting high-upside option if interested.

Wildcard

The Orioles probably don't need to look outside of the organization for an outfielder, but there are so many strong bats on the market that look like they can be had at a good value that it's worth mentioning a few.

 

Kyle Schwarber was the biggest name non-tendered at this year's deadline, and while the Orioles don't have an obvious spot for him on the roster, his best fit with any team is at DH. His swing would look really, really nice aiming for the warehouse in right field, making him an interesting target if he's willing to take a shorter prove-it deal.

The Cubs also non-tendered Albert Almora, a former top-six overall pick who is an excellent defensive outfielder and has a high pedigree. Not every former top prospect pans out, but there are worse players to take a flier on than guys with Almora's glove and profile. Along those lines, Kevin Pillar and Jackie Bradley Jr. are two other elite defensive center fielders whose glovework O's fans are very familiar with.

Another outfielder on the market is Eddie Rosario, a surprise non-tender by the Twins. Rosario has been one of the better hitters in baseball over the past few seasons, and while the Orioles don't have a need for a corner outfielder, it's hard not to be excited by the idea of his bat in the middle of the lineup. But even though he was non-tendered, it's likely he'll command a much higher salary than the O's are willing to pay.

David Dahl and Nomar Mazara are two other non-tendered outfielders who are younger, and therefore could more reasonably fit into the Orioles' long-term plans.

And you can never have enough bullpen arms, so it's also worth mentioning Archie Bradley and Matt Wisler as two relievers with varying degrees of success in past seasons who could look nice in the middle of the Orioles' bullpen.

As always, it will come down to money for all of these guys. Chances are none of them end up in Baltimore, but it wouldn't be surprising to hear the Orioles kick the tires as they try to build out a more competitive roster in 2021.