Baseball’s free agency period has begun. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, teams could pursue free agents that were not their own. The offers can now be made, the rumors will heat up and some signings should start to trickle in of players changing teams.
Will the Orioles be active? Quite possibly and according to ESPN, quite probably.
In Jeff Passan’s offseason preview story there was this excerpt:
Which teams are most likely to go really big this winter?
Certainly, this list could change, said Passan, depending on market dynamics and the whims of ownership, but the most active teams this winter, according to sources, are expected to be:
* New York Mets
* Los Angeles Dodgers
* New York Yankees
* San Francisco Giants
* Texas Rangers
* Philadelphia Phillies
* Seattle Mariners
* Chicago Cubs
* St. Louis Cardinals
* Minnesota Twins
* Baltimore Orioles
Among others that could spend, should the right opportunities present themselves: the Toronto Blue Jays, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers.
There is no guarantee the Orioles will spend big, whatever that means exactly, but for the first time in a while they are among a group of 11 teams that could, and they are listed with the big boys. To some fans that will be very exciting, to others it may be somewhat terrifying as there is always a segment of fans willing to point out that big contracts sometimes don’t work out and can handcuff teams that are not big market teams.
Per ESPN, last year teams spent $3.625 billion, with a B, on all the free agents combined. This year’s crop is a very good one and the number this year could threaten that mark or even exceed it later.
Among the outlet’s projected top 50 free agents, the Yankees Aaron Judge is listed as No. 1 and projected to get a deal of nine years for $324 million from some club. Trea Turner is the No. 2 free agent per ESPN, projected to get eight years and $272 million with Carlos Correa No. 3 and expected to get a deal in the range of eight years and $265 million.
It is not a year where any pitchers are among the top few free agents, but you don’t have to get far down the list to find some hurlers and on this list, there are six noted between No. 6 and No. 12.
Will the Orioles be linked to any of this group?
Jacob deGrom is the No. 6 free agent with the 2018 and 2019 National League Cy Young winner projected to get three years and $132 million.
At No. 7 is lefty Carlos Rodon, who has an ERA of 2.67 in 55 starts the last two years. The deal is projected at five years and $130 million.
Right-hander Justin Verlander, who is expected to opt out of the second year of a two-year deal, will be 40 on opening day next season. But he posted a 1.75 ERA this year and is expected to win the AL Cy Young Award. ESPN projects he gets a two-year deal for $72 million.
At No. 10 is Japanese pitcher Koudai Senga, a righty projected to get five years and $72 million that teams project anywhere from a No. 2 to No. 4 starter, depending on who is doing the looking. His fastball hits the upper 90s and he adds a solid splitter. He posted an ERA of 1.89 and 1.041 WHIP last season.
At No. 11 is Taijuan Walker, the right-hander that gave the Mets 157 innings with an ERA of 3.49 in 2022. He is projected to get four years and $60 million.
And at No. 12 is right-hander Chris Bassitt, another Met, and former Oakland Athletic, who went 15-9 with a 3.42 ERA. He is projected to get a three-year $53 million dollar deal.
Some of these projections seem like they might fit the Orioles wheelhouse and dare we say, gulp, even the top-end deals projected here could be in play for them. Easy for me to say or speculate about.
Now the crazy rumor season is here. Some groundwork for signings and/or trades might have been completed during the recent GM meetings and baseball’s Winter Meetings will be early next month.
Let the dealing begin.