Let the free agent frenzy begin

Anyone remember who the Orioles play on opening day next season?

Oh, yeah, right.

If one kid shows up at my door for Halloween tonight wearing a beard and a Red Sox cap, he’s getting a treat from the crappy bag of candy.

No mini Snickers or Kit Kat or Hershey bar or Reese’s. Enjoy your Dum Dum.

Consider yourselves lucky that I’m not handing out dental floss or pocket combs.

I actually picked the Red Sox to win the World Series before the playoffs started, but I wasn’t going out on a limb. They’re just a complete team, despite the defensive lapses against the Cardinals.

The Orioles need more grinders in their lineup, guys who can work the count and get on base and run up a pitch count. You’ll keep hearing how they’re looking for another big bat for the middle of the order. They led the majors in home runs. I’ll take a guy with an impressive on-base percentage who can set the table for the sluggers.

Maybe he can pass it along to a few of the holdovers.

One incentive for re-signing second baseman Brian Roberts is his penchant for turning in quality at-bats. Of course, he needs to stay healthy in order to do it.

Roberts owns a career .349 OBP, which has been lowered the past three seasons (.273, .233, .312).

Roberts can file for free agency now that the World Series has reached its conclusion, along with every other eligible player, which also includes Scott Feldman, Jason Hammel, Nate McLouth, Michael Morse, Francisco Rodriguez and Chris Snyder. Tsuyoshi Wada and Alexi Casilla will join the group once the Orioles decline their options for 2014.

In five days, executives may tender qualifying offers to the free agents who spent the entire season with their clubs, allowing them to receive draft pick compensation if a player goes elsewhere. In six days, free agents may sign with anyone. In 12 days, the players with qualifying offers must accept or decline.

The qualifying offer last year was $13.3 million, the average salary of the top 125 players in baseball. The nine players offered it declined: David Ortiz, Josh Hamilton, Hiroki Kuroda, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher, Rafael Soriano, Kyle Lohse, Adam LaRoche and Michael Bourn.

This year, the qualifying offer jumps to $14.1 million. Roberts, Hammel and McLouth are eligible, since they spent the entire 2013 season in Baltimore.

It’s not happening.

I’ll stick to my hunch that the Orioles attempt to keep Roberts, Feldman and McLouth, with Hammel a possible fallback option. Roberts would be the easiest to sign. He doesn’t figure to draw as many suitors, he wants to stay and he won’t take a big multi-year deal to get it done.

Feldman stands out among a weak crop of free agent pitchers, and though he’d like to return, the Orioles could be outbid for him. It depends how the market plays out. (And you know it’s November when you hear “market plays out.”)

MLBTradeRumors.com’s Steve Adams predicts Feldman will find a two-year, $17 million contract with a vesting option on a third year.

As I’ve written, the Orioles aren’t likely to go two years, $10 million for McLouth if that’s the going price.

Morse and Rodriguez figure to be wearing a different uniform next year. Morse’s agent will spread the word that his client’s wrist is repaired and there’s no need for concern. It may not prevent Morse from having to accept a one-year deal.

The Orioles could attempt to sign Snyder to a minor league deal and invite him to spring training. They also could attempt to re-sign Wada at a significantly reduced rate after he collected $8.15 million without throwing a single pitch for them.

blog comments powered by Disqus