Griesser’s Suggested Changes of the Offseason
Finally, after a long hiatus, I’m back with a brand new installment of my Suggested Change of the Week, and considering the 54-108 record that the Orioles are carrying into the offseason, there are a good number of adjustments and additions to make.
As I’ve written before, this first year of the rebuild hasn’t really been all that bad, despite the team’s win/loss record. The Orioles uncovered a few players who could be hidden gems, like Anthony Santander, Hanser Alberto, John Means, and Pedro Severino, while welcoming young studs like Hunter Harvey and Austin Hays to the bigs. As this multi-year process unfolds, more and more players like the six I just named should begin to sprout up, making their way to Camden Yards with greater frequency each year.
Craig Landefeld/GulfBird Sports
Now that the first year is complete, Elias and Hyde having the luxury of a full offseason together offers a chance to shorten the rebuild, if the right steps are taken. In this article, I’ll attempt to outline the best ways to handle that in the winter of 2019/2020, leading up to next season.
Without further ado, these are my Suggested Changes of the Offseason!
After the final game ended, Elias began the first piece of Baltimore’s winter work, continuing the necessary changes in the front office. One of the more important removals was that of Brady Anderson, who’d had a cloudy role with the Orioles for a while, but seemed to get in the way of past GMs. Smartly, Elias made sure that he’d be the sole signal-caller in the warehouse by relieving Anderson of his duties. I think that was a great first step.
Now, it’s up to Elias, Mejdal, Hyde, or anyone else involved to find the best fits to advance the various departments in which the O’s have been lacking traditionally. For me, the most important of these will be scouting, player development, and analytics. Because of Elias and Mejdal, who have a great background in that area, I find analytics to be the least worrisome of these. Whether they get the right people from Houston or elsewhere, they should have connections to smart analytics people to help the Orioles further their players’ success. At the same time, scouting both domestically and internationally has been an issue that needs to be resolved, and player development in the minor leagues has plagued the birds over the last two decades.
Meanwhile, there are also some vacancies on Brandon Hyde’s major league staff, as a number of the contracts were for one year. I don’t think this will see a huge shake-up, to be honest, as I think Hyde and his crew did a phenomenal job managing the 58 players on the O’s this year. That’s a huge number, and all of them deserve to be rewarded by being brought back (we now know that Howie Clark, Arnie Beyeler, & John Wasdin will not be).
Once everything with the front office and team management are sorted, the overhaul of the 40-man roster will begin. I think this will be an incredibly intriguing offseason, where we should see a ton of changes to this team, which is exciting.
The first order of business will be protecting players from the Rule-5 Draft before the November 20 deadline. This year, the players eligible for realistic protection are Ryan Mountcastle, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Ryan McKenna, Cody Sedlock, and Gray Fenter. The first three names are absolutely going to be protected – honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked if each were on the opening day roster. Beyond that, I think Sedlock is the only deserving protection. When you consider the fact that keeping each of these players will create more of a crunch with the 40-man roster, Sedlock’s age and projectability as a 2020 contributor makes him work protecting. McKenna and Fenter don’t have as strong an argument.
If any players are needed to be let go from the 40-man in order to make room for these four prospects, I think a few candidates are OF Mason Williams, P Josh Rogers, P Luis Ortiz, and P Richard Bleier.
Heading into the Rule-5 Draft, I think the Orioles are once again in position to bring a player in. I don’t expect them to draft two, like they did last year with Richie Martin and Drew Jackson, but I do think another middle infielder or starter/long-reliever would make sense.
Looking at free agency, I think the Orioles will be a bit more active heading into this season, as again, Elias will have a full offseason to get work done. This year, with the team still rebuilding, I’d like to see the Birds bring in players who lack a legitimate market but could pay off come the trade deadline if the Orioles take a chance.
Without any background knowledge on who the team actually might be interested in, names that come to mind include: INF/OF Chris Owings, INF/OF Brock Holt, SP Alex Wood, and perhaps less realistically, SP Dallas Keuchel.
Again, each of these players may go into the offseason expecting to land a big deal with a winning club, but could find difficulty getting what they want. Keuchel went through it last year, and I thought the O’s might pounce. This year, it might make more sense.
Finally, one of the priorities I’d have if I were Elias is trade Jonathan Villar. It’s not pressing, as Villar would be valuable to have around next year, but with his conclusion to the season, I’m not sure his value will ever be higher. Now’s the time to pounce and get a deal done to bolster the organization’s minor league talent.
This offseason will need multi-faceted action throughout, which will make it entertaining as ever. It won’t be easy and it won’t make the Orioles contenders next year, but it should be fun to watch. This has been my first crack at righting the ship.