We should get less of a couple of questions that we used to get bombarded with on these blogs every winter come free agency time - questions like when will the Orioles sign a big name free and how can the Orioles compete without one?
The theory that some held to with a vice-like grip - that the Orioles had to spend a lot more than they were to win - has been proven baseless this year. They didn’t win the American League East, but they were plenty good enough to do that with a payroll in the mid-$80 million range.
They didn’t have to sign a top free agent or spend like drunken sailors to catch the Yankees. They don’t have to do that now and this past year proved that true. They simply need to have good enough pitching, and make some shrewd trades and acquisitions, while developing some of their own talent.
When hired as O’s skipper, Buck Showalter said Tampa Bay stopped the excuses and proved it could be good without spending with the Yankees and Red Sox. He said that showed it can be done. As usual, Showalter was right.
That leads me back to this question. Will the Orioles ever spend big on a free agent? Actually, now that they were, for one season a 93-win team, maybe they are closer to doing that than ever. Some could now say they maybe are one player away.
I think one day the situation may be right for the Orioles to offer a free agent a contract of $100 million or more. But that day is not now and Josh Hamilton and Zach Greinke are not those players.
Hamilton had a monster year on the stat sheet in 2012, but his addiction issues and past relapses seem to be scaring a lot of people off and you can count me among them. I would not offer him the megabucks contract he seeks.
As for Greinke, since winning the Cy Young Award with the 2009 Royals, his ERAs are 4.17, 3.83 and 3.48 the last three years. Good, but not an ace. The O’s used three starters alone last year with better ERA’s in Chris Tillman at 2.95, Miguel Gonzalez at 3.25 and Jason Hammel at 3.43.
Greinke ranked 29th in the majors last season in ERA and 26th in WHIP. He’s a solid pitcher who could help the Orioles’ staff, but is not worth more than $100 million in my mind. Not nearly worth that. That doesn’t mean he won’t get from someone, but if I were Dan Duquette, it wouldn’t be from me.
As for Nick Swisher, if he wants $100 million, he should try a Ponzi scheme. He has averaged 26 homers and 87 RBIs the the last four years batting in the potent Yankees lineup. Matt Wieters had 23 homers and 83 RBIs last season, playing the most demanding position on the field.
Maybe the best play for the Orioles is to offer one of the top pitchers a big deal on a one or two-year contract and see who bites. Take on less long-term risk with Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman waiting in the wings and with a group of young pitchers that still could turn out to be top of rotation starters.
Will the Orioles ever offer a free agent a $100 million contact? I think they just may do so, but I don’t think this is the time to do it.