The Orioles have been linked to a number of free agents this winter, but so far their sole big league addition has been Kyle Gibson on a one-year, $10MM deal. It seems likely there will be more moves to come for Baltimore as they look to supplement a young core that is starting to look like a contender, but Dan Connolly of The Athletic suggests it’s unlikely they’ll be handing out any long-term deals this winter. Connolly says the Orioles may look to stick more in the 2-3 year term, and while that may rule them out of a big splash, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com relays information from general manager Mike Elias the team has made multi-year offers to free agent pitchers.
The Orioles did have reported interest in Jameson Taillon before he signed a four-year, $68MM deal with the Cubs, while they’ve also been reportedly interested in top remaining free agent starter Carlos Rodon, as well as Noah Syndergaard. Rodon looks set to a command five or six year deal, which looks to be outside Baltimore’s comfort levels, but it’s certainly possible to see them pursuing someone like Syndergaard on a shorter-term, but still multi-year pact. MLBTR predicted a three-year, $36MM deal for him, while the likes of Ross Stripling and Michael Wacha were both predicted to receive two-year deals which could fit in to Baltimore’s plan.
On the other side of the ball, it seems Elias is casting a wide net as he searches for upgrades. Jake Rill of MLB.com relays comments from Elias citing first base, designated hitter, the corner outfield and possibly second base as positions where the Orioles could have vacant playing time.
When asked about the prospect of adding left-handed hitters, Elias has this to say: “We are in talks with players that would be in the starting nine on Opening Day, or however you want to put it. I would view the probable additions at this point that we’re talking to and see out there as guys that will come in and kind of be on the same level as our other starters.”
The team did just add left-handed hitting outfielders Nomar Mazara and Franchy Cordero on minor league deals, and they could well compete for a spot on the big league roster during spring training. Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander currently project as the starting outfield, with Ryan McKenna on the bench. They also just claimed lefty hitting first baseman Lewin Diaz from the Pirates, so the O’s have not been shy in adding left-handed hitters so far.
While Mazara, Cordero and Diaz are all candidates to fill spots on the bench, it seems unlikely any of them would be in the starting nine on opening day if everyone is healthy. So if the Orioles may well seek further left-handed options and are looking to keep things to shorter-term deals, the likes of Joey Gallo, Dominic Smith or Brandon Belt could appeal.
As Kubatko tweets, a starter and a left handed bat appear the top priorities for the Orioles, but the team would also like to add a veteran reliever, as well as a backup catcher on a major league deal. Dillon Tate is currently the veteran in the Orioles’ bullpen with just over three years of service time, so it makes sense that they’d look for a more experienced arm to add to that group. On the catching front, Adley Rutschman is the only backstop on the 40-man roster.
So where does this leave Baltimore as far as payroll is concerned? Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com relays that Elias says payroll is expected to increase steadily over the coming seasons. That would be appear to be in line with the sort of additions the Orioles are looking to make over the coming months. Instead of making a big splash and committing long term dollars to a single player, the team looks likely to shop around for incremental additions to support their young core.