While many are anticipating that the Orioles will have difficulty in retaining their free agents, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com cautions against simply dismissing the possibility that Baltimore can find a way to retain some combination of Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and Darren O’Day. Of the four, Kubatko considers Chen the least likely to return, but he notes that the O’s had an organizational meeting last Friday which included managing partner Peter Angelos. One source later termed the meeting “productive” when speaking to Kubatko. The MASN scribe also hears from a source that Angelos wants to not only re-sign Chen but also is showing a willingness to add a free agent starter beyond the longtime Baltimore lefty. Of course, Kubatko also points out the possibility that Chen’s demotion to Class-A ball this season — a more or less procedural move that bought the Orioles some time to sort out a roster crunch — strained the relationship between player and team.
From my own vantage point, history hasn’t shown that the Orioles would be willing to spend at the necessary levels to sign Chen. A four-year deal is almost certainly there for him this winter, and he has a case for a fifth season at an annual rate in excess of the $12.5MM on Ubaldo Jimenez’s four-year deal with Baltimore. As Kubtako notes, Baltimore “shocked” many in the industry with that Jimenez contract; either a five-year deal or a significantly larger four-year pact for Chen strikes me as unlikely.
A few more items pertaining to the AL East…
- Kubatko’s colleague, Steve Melewski, writes that fans who feel the Orioles should try Zach Britton back in the rotation are misguided. Britton would be unable to jump from about 70 innings per season to the 175 to 200 necessary out of the rotation, and more importantly, he’d almost certainly be less effective in the rotation. Moving to a starting role would make it more difficult for Britton to hold his velocity, and hitters would benefit from second and third looks at his incredible sinker. He’d also need to throw more secondary pitches than he presently does, and the move would further weaken a bullpen that will already be an area of need for Baltimore this winter.
- Daniel Murphy signing with the Yankees is an unlikely scenario but can’t be completely ruled out, writes Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News. Second base is the Yankees’ most uncertain position on the diamond at present, and while many believe Rob Refsnyder will get a long look next year, Murphy’s swing fits Yankee Stadium well. The Yankees are in the midst of their pro scouting meetings and beginning to plot a course for the offseason, so Murphy’s name figures to at least be mentioned. Feinsand spoke to a pair of sources that estimated Murphy can land a deal similar to Chase Headley’s four-year, $52MM contract on the heels of a big postseason performance.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks back on the trade that sent R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Blue Jays in exchange for Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra. While there were other pieces in the trade, the core of the trade — Dickey for Syndergaard/d’Arnaud — looks excellent for the Mets, in hindsight. Sherman spoke with Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, who explained the the team had a win-now approach back in that 2012 offseason, with the goal of maximizing the prime years of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Both d’Arnaud and Syndergaard were years from contributing, and Toronto felt it could get four years of control of a win-now pitcher to help its near-term playoff hopes. The Jays also talked to the Rays about James Shields and had interest in free agent Anibal Sanchez at the time, but Tampa Bay didn’t want to move Shields within the division and Sanchez preferred Detroit to Toronto, Sherman adds.