The Baltimore Orioles primary goal for the near-term remains adding as much talent to the organization as possible, primarily in the minor leagues. That said, GM Mike Elias does have a winter checklist in this, his first full offseason as GM (the Orioles hired him on November 16th of last year). Namely, the Orioles will be looking for pitching and a veteran shortstop, per MASNSports’ Roch Kubatko.
While still in the infancy of their rebuild, the Orioles do not plan to shop in the premium aisles of the free agent market, but adding free agent talent is as much about protecting the organization’s youngsters as it is about the talent influx itself. Said Elias, “…we want to have more depth than we went into last year in the event that injuries occur, that we can protect our young pitching prospects who will be coming up.”
The Orioles first have to decide which of their own players to protect before the Rule 5 draft, and with rosters expanding to 26 players this season, teams could use the extra roster spot to be more aggressive in the Rule 5 draft, as the Orioles themselves were last year in keeping shortstop Richie Martin on the roster. It was a tough campaign for Martin, who authored a .208/.260/.322 line across 355 plate appearances, likely ticketing him for extended time in the minor leagues in 2020 now that he is officially a part of the Baltimore organization. Martin’s example is the reason Baltimore will emphasize adding depth this winter, both on the hill and at shortstop, so that they are not forced to rush further prospects before they are ready.
Jonathan Villar is the only rostered player who saw significant time at shortstop last season, almost equally splitting his time between second and short. Hanser Alberto covers second and has spent some time at shortstop in the past, but the Orioles roster is devoid of middle infield depth beyond those two, assuming a Martin demotion.