The Orioles have had a rough 2021 at the major league level, so it makes sense to look forward to 2022 and beyond.
Much has been written about what the Orioles are going to do this offseason. This is mainly because Mike Elias mentioned that the Orioles might consider adding free agents to the team in a recent interview.
I think the “will they/won’t they” game with the Orioles can get pretty tiring. There isn’t any way to tell what they will do this offseason. It is just speculation at this point, and while I can be negative and pull the classic “the Orioles are cheap, they won’t spend money” card, I am not going to do that today.
I also think tampering expectations down is necessary because I don’t believe big-time free agents are signing here just yet. It is important to improve this team and not blow all their money on one or two free agents.
So here is the challenge: I have come up with five free agents that I think the Orioles could sign this offseason that won’t cost them more than $20 Million AAV.
Raisel Iglesias, Relief Pitcher
Iglesias is the lowest on my list because this is the one I see as the least likely to happen. Iglesias has found himself with the Angels this year after struggling the last two years in Cincinnati and being traded during the offseason. He has bounced back by saving 33 out of 38 games for the Angels. He has solid numbers such as his 2.69 ERA, 100 strikeouts, and 167 ERA +. The most significant factor for Iglesias is that he doesn’t walk anybody, with only 12 walks this year in 67 innings and has a BB9 of 1.6. Iglesias is striking out a ton of batters with a SO9 of 13.4.
As you can see, Iglesias has some impressive numbers, so why is he so low on the list? The main reason is that the relief market isn’t looking all that hot this winter, and Iglesias is the best reliever on the market. This means that if the Orioles want him, they will have to get into a bidding war, and I don’t see them doing that. Iglesias would be a fun option because the O’s bullpen was atrocious in 2020. Still, he will probably get super pricey, and while he won’t be making over $20 Million AAV, I don’t see the Orioles getting into a massive bidding war that they are probably going to lose.
Anthony DeSclafani, SP
The 2021 Giants don’t make sense, do they? A team that was projected to finish around .500 has taken control of one of the most competitive divisions in baseball. The Giants have had many breakouts and veterans playing well this year, and DeSclafani has been one of them. The former member of the Reds has figured it out this year as he has a 3.23 ERA, 3.70 FIP, and a 128 ERA +. It is tricky to figure out just what DeSclafani’s market will be. For one, he is 31, so he isn’t all that young.
Most importantly, will teams take his breakout seriously? This is his first year being above average, and he has been pretty bad before this year. This is why he could be cheap for the Orioles, but he could also be expensive if a team buys into his upside. It should also be noted that he pitches in San Francisco, a notorious pitcher’s park, so his production will probably drop if he moves into a much more offensive division.
Alex Wood, SP
Another Giants pitcher makes an appearance, but this one is a little more sustainable. Alex Wood is really the kind of player I feel like the Orioles are going to look for, a reliable back-end starter. Wood doesn’t have great numbers this year, but he has been consistent. His ERA sits around the high 3’s and low 4’s, with a similar FIP. Wood also strikes out a lot of batters, with 146 this year, and isn’t walking many batters with just 39. Wood is the type of solid pitcher the Orioles have had far too few of in recent years. When it comes to his market, it is once again kind of hard to predict.
On the one hand, he shouldn’t be that expensive because he isn’t as good as some of the other pitchers on the market, such as Robbie Ray or especially Max Scherzer. On the other hand, he isn’t that old at 30, and he might have a bigger market because he has bounced back after two rough years with the Reds. Pitchers like Wood are crucial to building a major league staff because you pretty much know what you are getting from him every day, and I think he should be on the top of the Orioles’ list.
Andrelton Simmons, SS
Shortstop should be one position that the Orioles target this winter. With prospects like Jordan Westburg and Gunnar Henderson not ready yet, they will have to sign veterans to get production. While fans will want someone like Carlos Correa or Trevor Story, I think they will go with a much cheaper option because of the shortstops coming up the pipeline. Simmons is perfect for the Orioles as he will probably sign a cheap one–year deal. Simmons’ defense is his most talked about trait, which is pretty important for building a young pitching staff. It takes a ton of pressure off pitchers if they know that their infielders can field their positions.
While Simmons doesn’t have much of a bat, he offers enough as a defender that the Orioles are probably OK with giving something up on offense. Simmons fits the Orioles.
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
If I had to choose one free agent off this list, this is the one I want. Third Base has been a black hole for the Orioles, and Escobar seems the perfect fit. He won’t be that expensive given that he is 33 and is around a league-average hitter, but like Simmons, he gives the Orioles an excellent stop-gap player that can make them a little more interesting to watch. Escobar has posted a .309 OBP and .467 Slug% in 2021. He isn’t the best fielder at Third, but he isn’t awful either. He also hits a decent amount of home runs as he has 26 to 30 home run power. Escobar is once again perfect for what the Orioles need because he isn’t awful, yet he isn’t going to block another prospect from playing third long term.
So there you have it, five free agents that won’t cost the Orioles that much. I think this is a happy medium for fans and the organization. These free agents are making the team better, yet they don’t cost that much money. I know some people want the big-time free agents, but I think this is much more realistic as to what the Orioles might do.
I hope the Orioles will consider these free agents and hopefully sign at least one of them.