SAN DIEGO – The recent moves made by Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias haven’t really shortened his offseason shopping list. The biggest items still seem to be missing from it, which keeps the interest in the Winter Meetings percolating.
Kyle Gibson, who agreed to a one-year contract, isn’t a guy who ideally slots at or near the top of the rotation. The Orioles have sought multiple veteran starters after declining Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option. Gibson comes from the Lyles mold.
Elias arrives in San Diego today trying to find a pitcher who’s more equipped to replace John Means, the staff ace recovering from Tommy John surgery in April.
Grayson Rodriguez is baseball’s No. 1 pitching prospect, but it’s unrealistic to expect him to be the opening day starter. This isn’t Norfolk. Give him time to climb.
Elias is focused on left-handed hitters, specifically first basemen/designated hitters, corner outfielders and second basemen. Lewin Díaz was a waiver claim Friday and Franchy Cordero signed a minor league deal later in the day that pays $1.35 million if he’s in the majors.
Díaz has been claimed by the Pirates and Orioles in the last few weeks, so he doesn’t have a Kung Fu grip on his 40-man spot. He provides an option at first base and as the designated hitter if an upgrade isn’t available. A plus defender to back up Ryan Mountcastle, but also, a career .181/.227/.340 hitter in the majors.
Cordero isn’t on the 40-man and he’s a career .221/.290/.386 hitter in six major league seasons. He could earn a job as a backup first baseman and corner outfielder. He could be Triple-A depth as more prospects debut with the Orioles.
He doesn’t stop Elias from meeting with agents and executives this week and beyond.
The Orioles also aren’t done searching for a veteran backup catcher. They can extend spring training invites to Anthony Bemboom and Mark Kolozsvary, but that isn’t sufficient competition.
Adley Rutschman remains the only catcher on the 40-man roster. Maybe it stays that way until a job is won in camp. But someone else is joining the fray.
I’d expect the Orioles to add at least one reliever before opening day, though it isn’t publicized as a pressing need.
The bullpen was a surprising strength in 2022, but it’s reckless to bank on the exact same numbers from a group that was largely unproven.
The Orioles didn't take a spin in the rumor mill yesterday, but they're viewed here as one of the aggressors. Lots of talk about them already.
How much of it is believable is another matter. But the attention on them is a new dynamic since the old regime was replaced.