Baltimore’s lack of offense finally caught up with the team and ended their rollercoaster season. They earned high hopes as they built a nice division lead midway through the season, but the lineup lost its production in the last couple of months.
Now the Orioles will face some tough question all throughout the offseason and the first one starts with Buck Showalter.
The manager has had full reigns throughout his tenure in Baltimore, but not bringing in Zach Britton in the biggest game of the season has caused many to question his judgement. Why not bring in the best relief pitcher in a tie game?
It’s a question Showalter will have to endure the whole offseason and he won’t have a satisfying answer for those asking.
However, Britton still wouldn’t have saved the Orioles because of their struggling lineup. The team was one Trumbo home run away from being shut out and couldn’t put anything together against mediocre pitching, managing just five baserunners (four hits and a walk) in 11 innings.
It was bound to happen to a lineup that relied on power all season, and the management will have to figure out whether or not to stick with the same strategy next year.
It’s already being reported that Wieters and Baltimore are “millions of dollars” apart. Will the Birds part ways with the veteran catcher? They could reunite with Nick Hundley and pair him with either Caleb Joseph or Francisco Pena while they wait for Chance Sisco to come up.
Duquette & Co. will also have to decide between Trumbo and Alvarez, if they choos to bring one of the players back. Both are defensive liabilities and the team can’t make the mistake of keeping two designated hitters on the roster again. Trumbo had the better season, but had a rough second half and will be more expensive than Alvarez. Fans are already calling Trumbo “the next Nelson Cruz.” Letting Cruz walk has proven to be a mistake, as he’s had two very productive seasons in Seattle.
Will we be saying the same of Trumbo?
Then there’s the question of role players for next year’s outfield. Showalter won’t give Hyun Soo Kim a full-time position, meaning the team will have to figure things out internally or through free agency. Pearce and Bourn could be favorites to re-sign and would be cheap options. Could the team make a run at a true leadoff hitter, like Rajai Davis? Or will they stay in-house and promote Christian Walker?
Another issue is where to put Trey Mancini. The first baseman doesn’t have anything left to prove offensively in the minors, but the O’s could try turning him into an outfielder. He’s blocked by Chris Davis at his natural position and would only get time as the designated hitter. Does he transition to an outfielder and return to the minors?
It’ll be a tough offseason for Dan Duquette and he’ll have difficult decisions to make in order to make this a playoff team again. The Orioles won’t be the biggest spenders as they were a year ago, and will likely look for bargains, aside from their own free agents.