(Brandon Hyde reacts to the O’s haul at the Winter Meetings)
What a fun Winter Meetings. (Well, if you’re a baseball fan. If you’re an Orioles fan…not so much. But more on that in a bit).
This stove is officially hot right now, and the money being spent by teams this off-season has already eclipsed over two billion dollars. This usually happens after a new CBA is agreed upon. Teams are more confident to pay up to what the players and agents want because the teams feel safe under at least five years of a new agreement.
On the other hand, the Orioles haven’t been in on the big players in this market. They are apparently talking to these players, which is good and a step in the right direction, but not what many fans wanted. This probably comes down to two factors. One, Mike Elias doesn’t want to overpay the pitchers he is talking to. The market for these pitchers is insane right now. The pitchers I thought would be cheaper, more affordable options are getting overpaid by teams like the Phillies. Taijuan Walker was a fit I liked for the Orioles, but I couldn’t believe he got what he got from Philly. Another guy I wanted was Jameson Taillon, but he got paid much more than most were expecting. This market has turned into an overpay or leave empty-handed type of market. This doesn’t match what Elias likes to do; even going back to his days in Houston, he has taken an approach of getting value and not overpaying for it. In his time in Houston, he only gave a multi-year deal to one player on the free agent market, Josh Reddick. The rest of the supplementing players came from trades.
What is interesting is that the trade market is silent right now. Teams are going for the free-agent market rather than trade. Nothing has changed my opinion about the trade market. If a high-end starter is available, you do everything possible to get something done.
The market still has a lot of talent, and big names like Carlos Rodon and Chris Bassitt haven’t signed yet. This is probably because of the draft pick compensation holding up negotiations. At this point, though, I am not confident that those tier-one guys are coming to Baltimore.
That is not even considering that the offense still needs pieces. Luckily the off-season doesn’t end this week, and we still have two months to get some pieces. The pickings are getting slim, and the market isn’t slowing down soon. If the Orioles need a player, they will have to overpay for them; this is the reality of the situation.
This is why I can’t predict what will happen for the rest of the offseason. I could see a range of outcomes occurring, but I don’t think the Orioles will sit on their hands and do nothing. If they don’t want to overpay a free agent, a trade for a starter gets done. The offense is another story; they haven’t been linked to any position players yet, but Elias did say he wanted to add in areas of need.
I will say it is way too early to tell whether or not the off-season will be a failure. I understand that free agents are falling, but the O’s still have plenty of time to get something done. Now, if Elias doesn’t do anything the rest of the way, you can get mad. But in December, I don’t let myself get too worked up.
All that said, the O’s still made a couple of moves I wanted to discuss.
They have only made one major league singing, along with a ton of other depth moves on the minor league side.
Kyle Gibson is the one major league signing they’ve made. The best way to describe him is Jordan Lyles, but better. His ERA was worse than Lyles’ in 2022, but everything else was better. The reason why Gibson’s ERA was so high was mostly due to bad luck. His FIP was 4.28, while Lyles’s was 4.40. Lyles got pretty lucky to put up his ERA, while Gibson was unlucky to put up his numbers.
The other signings have been minor league signings and organizational depth. The organizational depth that probably won’t be seen is Josh Lester and Ofiedy Gomez. The others probably get shots, but they don’t make much of an impact. I hope Franchy Cordero doesn’t stay long. He was so unwatchable last year, and the only thing he does well is hit the ball hard. Nomar Mazara is a once top prospect that didn’t work out, but he plays decent defense in right, and he hits the ball hard. The one that intrigues me the most is Lewin Diaz. Diaz is a great defender at first, and he smashes the baseball. The issue is everything else… but he has some upside.
Finally, the first MLB Draft Lottery took place, and the Orioles got the 17th pick. They had no realistic chance of getting into the top 5, so this was expected. Then every Orioles fan favorite, the Rule 5 draft, happened on Wednesday night. The Orioles selected Adam Politi with their pick. He is a guy who has good stuff but is shorter and has a high-effort delivery. He seems like a guy who will put in the bullpen, and you hope for the best.
So far, the Orioles have signed a solid starter and a bunch of depth, while other teams are giving out huge contracts like candy. It is frustrating to see, but even with all this spending, the market still has a ton of value. Still, the Orioles need to act now. A good free agent signing like Noah Syndergaard or Bassitt would go very far. If they can’t do that, then this team needs to pivot fast to the trade market.
At least, as a baseball fan, it has been awesome to see this market move faster, compared to the last couple offseasons.