The Orioles are generally patient in the free agent market under GM Dan Duquette, writes Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore. Duquette’s biggest free agent signings came late in the 2013-2014 offseason when he inked Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez. Given that 20 players were extended qualifying offers, Baltimore could once again wait to see if any players fall through the cracks. In my opinion, there are some risks with this strategy. While buying low close to the season has its advantages, it can leave a player under-prepared. Additionally, several clubs appear well positioned to play the waiting game. Duquette could find an unusual amount of competition if he waits to do his shopping until late-January.
Here’s more from the AL East:
- Former Orioles Chris Davis, Wei-Yin Chen, and Matt Wieters may take a patient approach to finding a new contract, writes Dubroff. All three Scott Boras clients received a qualifying offer. In the case of Davis, the Orioles would like to re-sign him and plan to make a competitive offer. However, Dubroff wonders how long Baltimore will allow Davis to shop for offers before they move onto alternatives. Meanwhile, the market for Wieters may not be particularly robust with the White Sox, Astros, and Dodgers as possible fits. Reliever Darren O’Day was not given a qualifying offer, and he could be in line for a four-year contract.
- The Rays made an early splash on the trade market, and they’re obviously not done, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The club has narrowed its focus for the offseason but remains open to discussing any player. Topkin notes that free agent activity will wait until later in the offseason “when their currency of playing time can be worth more than money to players still on the market.” Trade talks figure to revolve around first baseman James Loney. He’s owed $8MM next season. Corner infield prospect Richie Shaffer appears ready for a high profile role if Loney is dealt elsewhere.
- The Red Sox currently have the 12th pick in the 2016 amateur draft, and it may influence some of their free agent decisions, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Under the qualifying offer system, the earliest pick ever surrendered to sign a free agent is the 13th (Padres, James Shields). The club would probably be willing to cough up a pick for a top free agent like Zack Greinke, Davis, or Jordan Zimmermann. However, pitchers like Chen, Marco Estrada, and others might not offer enough upside to forego the early pick. Per President Dave Dombrowski, “I think it’s a case-by-case basis and you analyze that based upon the player you have a chance to sign.“
- As a means of retaining their first pick, the Red Sox may attempt to trade for starting pitching, writes Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. Trade candidates are harder to predict because it’s unclear which players are really on the table. McAdam believes that A’s starter Sonny Gray, Cleveland’s Carlos Carrasco, and San Diego’s Tyson Ross are logical targets. The club could also chase a top reliever like Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman.
- Greinke may not be a fit in Boston, opines Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com. Greinke actually hit similarly to Pablo Sandoval on a rate basis and reportedly enjoys batting regularly. There’s also the matter of home division. The NL West includes some of the most pitcher friendly parks in baseball. As such, the Dodgers and Giants are a good fit. Pitchers in the AL East have to survive Fenway and three homer-happy venues in Toronto, New York, and Baltimore. That could hold back the Red Sox in negotiations for other top pitchers like David Price too. Gammons does see a possible trade match with the White Sox for ace Chris Sale. Blake Swihart could potentially serve as a centerpiece.