With one of the lowest payrolls in Major League Baseball, the Orioles were still able to pull off a 101-win season that led them to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
There certainly seems to be room for that payroll to grow and get larger. How large no one knows and no one from the front office will tip their hand. Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is the man that will need to manage that payroll with the knowledge that any big dollar mistakes could set back the team.
The margin for error is much less than for the big market, big spending teams.
No doubt some fans are skeptical that the O's could do some spending this winter and you won't get Elias to suggest that or promise that. But I still asked the question in our recent interview when I wondered what he could do to prove to fans that the club is willing to invest more dollars in the big league payroll?
“I think there is a point there I often neglect to mention – the ultimate goal here is wins and success and having a healthy organization. How much you are spending to do that – whether it is free agents or on infrastructure – it’s sort of secondary. To me, I care about that – I care about the wins and the organizational health, success and talent. But I think that if you’re a fan, you should see that we are on upward climb and an upward path and that has involved and will involve the major league payroll.
“We have a group of baseball operations people that have a lot of experience and a lot of successful experience running teams and being thoughtful about things. We’re going to responsibly grow the franchise with the methods that have gotten us here. I’m not interested in predicting those outcomes exactly. Because the most important things are those two things I’ve said. We’ll see where that leads. But we are very much in a growth-mode right now and it’s just all good things going on everywhere.”
I asked Elias if one message to fans would be that the Orioles are not hindered by the paraments of their payroll? That they are not handcuffed in that regard?
“Yeah. We are doing and we’re going to do everything we can to put the most talented roster on the field possible within the parameters that exist in the system of Major League Baseball right now. And a very big factor in that is the size of your city, your revenues. The features of your market. But we’re, as I have been saying and doing the last five years, making Baltimore baseball as good as it can be. That is probably the best way for me to say that" he said.
One other aspect of this winter for the Orioles are trades that could happen. Trades that could remove what some might call a logjam of sorts on the roster between minor league players and current big league players.
“I don’t call it a logjam, unless there are guys you wish weren’t here. I view it as depth. Obviously, we’ve got a great Triple-A team, and a lot of other teams would be thrilled to get their hands on a lot of our Triple-A players because they have bigger holes at the major league level. But there is no one in the organization that we just want to jettison. And we’re happy we have all these guys. But it’s a big part of our job to deploy and capitalize on our players the best that we can. That is going to involve trade talks," said Elias.
Since we know the Orioles are interested in adding pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen, here are free agent pitchers now available as ranked by MLBTradeRumors.com. I will list where they rank in the MLBTR top 20 free agent rankings and the deal they project to get.
3) Yoshinobu Yamamoto - 9 years, $225 million
4) Blake Snell - 7 years, $200 million
5) Aaron Nola - 6 years, $150 million
6) Jordan Montgomery - 6 years, $150 million
8) Josh Hader - 6 years, $110 million
9) Sonny Gray - 4 years, $90 million
10) Shota Imanaga - 5 years, $85 million
11) Eduardo Rodriguez - 4 years, $82 million
17) Lucas Giolito - 2 years, $44 million
18) Marcus Stroman - 2 years, $44 million