For the Orioles, it's nice to head into the offseason with options

For the Baltimore Orioles - a division champion coming off 101 wins, a team with higher expectations than they've had in years and a team with a talented young roster - it's nice to have options.

And I don't mean player options, although that roster flexibility is always important for any club.

No, I mean options for the front office. I mean choices. As they look to improve this club there are a lot of different directions they can go to look to do that.

There were no glaring weaknesses on the 2023 Orioles. There are no areas that you can say this team better have this or that or they won't win again.

One of the strengths of the '23 club was that it had a lot of strengths. They were good home and road. They were strong in close games. They scored the fourth most runs in the AL and finished fifth in team ERA. They finished first in team ERA in the second half. The defense featured playmakers. They even ran the bases pretty well. They had plenty of young talent and more is on the way.

This team could make incremental upgrades, take shots at finding the next Danny Coulombe or Yennier Cano for the bullpen in an under-the-radar move or promote players from within and be another club capable of winning 100 next season.

But here is where the choices, or options, they will have come into play.

Here is where having the No. 1 farm system comes into play. It might be the O's biggest advantage this offseason. Where they are not likely to even try to win free agent spending battles, they are set up to win trade battles. At a time when young talent may be more coveted than ever, they have a surplus. Trading from a surplus is smart. Add something you need while perhaps thinning out, but not emptying out the young talent base.

Having the ability to make a strong trade enables the club to pursue a player with two or three years of team control while not having to sign a free agent to more years than you might be comfortable with.

Yes, this team could use more power. Yes, it could use a top echelon starter or even a good mid-range starter to provide added balance and depth. It surely could use a closer with Félix Bautista out all next year. It can sign that player or trade for him. The options even include adding someone with a big arm that is not proven in the ninth inning to just have another hat to throw into the closer ring for next year. 

Their winter options could also include the pursuit of long-term contracts for one or more of their top young talents like Gunnar Henderson or Adley Rutschman.

The team certainly can multi-task and both pursue outside talent while looking to tie up some that is already here. 

What we will never know is what is the club's wish list and top priorities and how to do they rank them? Do they see it the same in that they have many directions they could go and many options and choices available to them?

It should be a fascinating winter.  

The Rangers are going to the World Series: The Houston Astros will not repeat as World Series champions. The team that eliminated the Orioles, the Texas Rangers, beat Houston last night to win in Game 7 of an American League Championship Series where the road team won each game. 

Texas won Game 6 by a 9-2 score and Game 7 by 11-4.

Texas manager Bruce Bochy is now 6-0 in winner-take-all postseason games, the most such wins for any skipper in MLB history. Bochy's teams are 14-1 in the last 15 playoff series. 

Texas went 40-41 on the road in the 2023 regular season but is now 8-0 in the postseason on the road. 

The Rangers, who swept the Orioles in the AL Division Series, won 68 games last season.

Game 1 of the 2023 World Series will be Friday night at Globe Life Field. Texas will have home-field advantage for the first time in these playoffs.


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