PiR: Sizing Up the O’s as the Offseason Approaches

Reality: The AL East had three teams in the playoffs.

Perception: Two of those teams, Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles, did not win a single game in the playoffs. The Toronto Blue Jays have won four games so far, but are currently down 2-0 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS.

Going into the postseason, the division had a 60% chance of putting a team in the World Series.

I live in the south, where folks have this strange conference loyalty. When their team isn’t in it, they root for other SEC or ACC or whatever teams. I don’t get it. Whether it’s the Orioles or the Ravens, I cheer against the division when it comes to the playoffs. If the Orioles can’t make it, I want anyone but the AL East to win.

So I’m rooting for the Indians. Go Tribe. Finish them!

Reality: Matt Wieters will be a Free Agent after the World Series.

Perception: At their press conference this past week, Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette discussed a lot about their plans for the off-season. No comment seemed more revealing than what Showalter said when asked about talking to Wieters: “Tough. Not many dry eyes in that place.”

That says it all. Both the team and the player know what the next step is and that is Wieters hitting free agency. If they are crying just thinking about it, then Wieters is gone.

I don’t know why, but I’ve seen a lot of fans saying “See ya!” to Wieters. Why would you be happy about losing a guy the team drafted, developed and continues to be one of the best at his position?

Wieters was 9th among MLB catchers in home runs, 8th in RBIs, 12th in hits, 13th in runs, 16th in OBP.

Defensively, among catchers that appeared in at least 100 games, Wieters was 7th best in throwing out opposing base stealers.

Sure, we can let Wieters go, but who is going to replace him? I love Caleb Joseph, and he is definitely qualified defensively, but he hit .174 and had 0 RBI this season. Chance Sisco was the Orioles’ minor league Player of the Year, but is he really ready to carry the load every day in the big leagues? I don’t think so.

Personally, I’d rather sign Wieters to a multi-year deal but I know that won’t happen. They could give him a qualifying offer so that if he leaves they get a draft pick, but Duquette is not sure that is happening again:

Reality: Mark Trumbo will be a Free Agent after the World Series.

Perception: Trumbo was the 2016 Home Run King with 47 dingers, a career high. But just like Nelson Cruz, it appears that his time in Baltimore is one and done.

Roch Kubatko of MASN says, “I’m hearing that the Orioles would like to re-sign Mark Trumbo. There’s serious interest in keeping him.”

That’s good news, because I don’t remember ever hearing that said about Cruz after his year with the club. Obviously, with all the money the O’s paid Chris Davis last season, it’s going to be hard to sign any player to a long-term deal, especially when you have to look at the future and signing Manny Machado and Jonathan Schoop to long-term contracts.

Trumbo is going to get a big-time contract somewhere. Unlike Cruz (who was 34 at the time), Trumbo is relatively young (30) and is in the prime of his career. If the Birds want to stay in contention for the next couple of years, they are going to have to open the bank to pay their guys, and for me that includes Trumbo.

Reality: Pedro Alvarez, Michael Bourn, Steve Pearce, Tommy Hunter, Nolan Reimold, and Drew Stubbs will be free agents.

Perception: Obviously, the Orioles can’t sign all those guys. So what do they do?

Stubbs is gone. He did nothing for them.

You only sign one (maybe two) between Pearce, Bourn and Reimold, and after the final month that Bourn had, the O’s could sign him and put him in the lead-off spot, and Reimold is gone. Pearce could be a bat off the bench if Buck wants him, and I could see that happening.

Hunter wasn’t bad for the Orioles out of the bullpen, but his return will depend on how the Front Office envisions their bullpen for 2017. He might return and would not be too expensive.

I like Alvarez, but his return entirely depends on Trumbo. If Trumbo returns, Alvarez is gone. But if Trumbo leaves, I would like to see Alvarez return as the everyday DH. It’s been a while since the Orioles have had an everyday power-hitting DH. Harold Baines is the name that pops in my head. But then again, if the O’s plan for Trey Mancini to be with the club all season, his only spot might be DH, which removes any chance of signing Alvarez.

Reality: The Orioles have six returning starting pitchers.

Perception: The Orioles starting pitchers were not as bad as many thought they were. Yes, they need to improve in 2017, but the Orioles season was lost at the plate, not on the mound.

That said, if they want to upgrade the pitching staff, they will have to make a trade to get rid of one of their starters, who are all signed for 2017.

Buck and Duquette said they want to add to the rotation, and want to get a left-hander, so something has to give.

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About Joe Polek

Joe Polek
Joe Polek was born in Baltimore, MD, and was raised in Bel Air, MD. In 2001, he moved to Portland, Maine for a job in radio. In 2012, he moved to Columbia, SC for another gig in radio, where he currently resides with his wife, Nicole, and their two daughters....more

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