Revisiting a potential free agent pitcher pursuit and other offseason questions

While we wait for something to happen in baseball free agency (it's been pretty quiet thus far), today I take a quick look back at some recent stories written and discussed here.

If the Orioles, as stated, seek a pitcher they can place in the top half of their rotation, they could do worse than free agent right-hander Sonny Gray.

A recent New York post article projected he could get a three-year deal worth $65 million. 

Gray is coming off a fantastic year with the Twins, during which he went 8-8 with a 2.79 ERA and 1.147 WHIP in 184 innings over 32 starts. He ranked second in the American League and third in the majors in ERA, and was fourth in the AL in average against (.226), third in OPS (.607 behind Kyle Bradish at .605) and fifth in groundball rate.

Gray just turned 34, a number that worries some when thinking about signing him to a multi-year deal. 

But I see a pitcher that could put up good numbers for three more seasons. His ERA is 2.90 the last two years and 3.22 with a 1.147 WHIP the last five years. His ERA+ over those five years is 138.

He has been consistently a well-above average pitcher for those years. The problem I foresee is he is potentially going to get more money than that. projected a four-year deal for $90 million for the pitcher that just finished second to Gerrit Cole for the 2023 AL Cy Young Award.

* In this story recently, we looked at Austin Hays' 2023 season. He is a player that seems much more embraced by O's fans today than he was this time a year ago.

In 144 games, Hays batted .275/.325/.444/.769 with 36 doubles, two triples, 16 homers, 76 runs, five steals and 67 RBIs. His OPS+ of 114 ranked sixth among O’s everyday players and was his best mark in the three full seasons he has played, surpassing the 107 from 2021 and 105 from last year.

He is a player that brings a lot of energy and hustle to the Orioles and one that plays very solid defense in the expanded left-field area. That is a differencemaker for the club since the wall was moved back.

He is one of 17 arbitration-eligible players the Orioles had this year and he was, of course, tendered a 2024 contract. He is projected to get a raise from $3.2 million to $6.1 million.

* In this article recently, O's executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias talked about the beginning of the offseason and the O's pursuits of a bullpen arm and a starting pitcher.

They know they will play the 2024 season without closer Félix Bautista and that has made adding a bullpen arm an important pickup this winter.

“It is a top priority,” said Elias. “I’m characterizing it as a back end reliever. I think if that guy has closer experience, that’s great. It would be nice. I am worried about Bautista’s absence and I don’t believe we felt that fully in September of 2023. We are going to try like hell to bring in some help from the outside for the back of our bullpen.”

Here is what Elias said about the level of starting pitcher the club is seeking:

"Yeah, we’re keeping it relatively open because we have to see what opportunities present themselves in this market. We’ve got two guys in Bradish and (Grayson) Rodriguez that basically pitched like front end starters all year, most of the year, and they are coming back. But there is pressure on them and it would be nice to bring them some help. If we are able to import a clear upgrade to one of our rotation spots that’s going to radiate out into the rest of the rotation. We’ll see what the best opportunity is, who the best person is for the job. Whether we are able to get our hands on this guy. It is hard to narrow yourself too much going into an offseason. There are not that many people (as starters) available."

Revisiting notes on Mateo, McCann, Mullins, Pérez,...
Extra Orioles mailbag questions

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