As the 2018 season mercifully nears its end, I have started to play a little game.
What game you ask?
Allow me to bring in Petyr Baelish to explain:
It was a vital first step to start the arduous rebuild process for a team in need of not only organizational depth, but one in need of increased talent at virtually every position with the big league club as well.
What if, however, the entire “rebuild” is a ruse, and nothing more than a salary dump disguised as a rebuild?
What if, this process has been started to put the current ownership group in a position to sell?
What would this look like?
Let’s play a game:
Saving Money vs. Talent Acquisition
If the Orioles were more interested in decreasing long term financial commitments instead of a true rebuild, they would refuse to chip in any cash in the trades they made, and instead, accept less value in return. The trades made to date have seen all the teams receiving players from the Orioles absorb 100% of the remaining contracts.
After seeing what the Rays acquired in return for Chris Archer, could the Orioles have gotten more talent for Gausman? Maybe, but we will never know. But what didn’t help was also tossing in Darren O’Day and the $13M remaining on his contract. What would the Braves want with a guy on the 60-day DL as they are in the middle of a playoff push?
Sure they’ll have him next year, but that move screams salary dump and it cost them vital organizational talent in the name of cutting payroll, as did not picking up some of the money on the other players they dealt. To me, a true rebuild would maximize the talent on the returns, not the cash saved on the MLB roster.
International Bonus Money
Some may say, “Sure they may have not gotten impressive returns on the trades, but look at all that international money they acquired!” On the surface, this seems true. The moves the O’s made provided them with more than double the pool money to the next closest team, and put them in a strong position to sign Victor Victor Mesa.
BUT, what if they don’t sign him? What if, they only spend a small portion of the available funds (because they were late to the international signing party), and the rest goes to waste as the pool money follows a “use it or lose it structure.”
If this scenario plays out, it only further dampens the work they’ve done toward a rebuild and raises more questions about the organizations intentions.
Who is the Architect?
Who is conducting this rebuild? On what planet would an organization let someone dictate the future of their club that would no longer be an employee at seasons end? Is that the case with Dan Duquette? What about Buck Showalter? What role, if any, does Brady Anderson play in all of this? Maybe the inner circle of the organization knows the answers to these questions, but is it possible that they don’t?
Is it possible they don’t care because the long term objective is to sell?
Invest the Savings?
With arbitration awaiting Schoop and Gausman, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact dollar amount of money saved for the Orioles, but a conservative estimate is $60M came off the books. Throughout the start of this process, we have heard how payroll would be cut to accommodate increased spending in the areas of scouting and analytics. In a months’ time, the Orioles slashed $60 million. Were they spending any money before on scouting? As payroll presumable continually goes down over the next couple of years, is the plan to invest $100M in off the field activities? Color me skeptical.
In isolation, none of these items means anything. The O’s could be dumping payroll to invest in scouting and analytics, they could have a concrete plan in place for who is the architect of this rebuild and they could be on the verge of signing VVM.
Put everything together however, and at the very least it should have eyebrows raised.