The Orioles aren’t necessarily done with their bullpen, remaining open to the idea of adding another veteran to it. Perhaps on a minor league deal to compete in camp. Perhaps on a major league deal to pair with new closer Craig Kimbrel.
As we’ve discussed here, it’s one way to improve the pitching staff if executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias can’t obtain an impact starter. It worked with Andrew Miller at the 2014 deadline.
The mistake was letting Miller walk as a free agent. The front office stance being that a one-inning guy wasn’t worth the money, though Darren O’Day received a four-year, $31 million extension in December 2015.
Josh Hader wasn’t returning to the Orioles organization. The local angle – Millersville native and Old Mill High graduate – wasn’t worth more than the $95 million that the Astros are paying him over the next five seasons.
That’s the largest deal for a reliever in terms of present-day value, with none of the money deferred. The largest stretch would be linking the Orioles to Hader based only on Félix Bautista’s elbow surgery.
Hader was traded to the Astros with utility player L.J. Hoes and a Competitive Balance A pick at the 2013 deadline for starter Bud Norris, who played an integral role in the 2014 division title and berth in the American League Championship Series. Houston traded Hader to the Brewers in 2015, and the lefty’s career was launched.
As I’ve written, there were multiple Orioles people who didn’t want Hader included in the trade. The velocity was climbing, the delivery was deceptive, and he profiled as dominant-closer material. More division within the organization.
Robert Stephenson signed with the Angels last week for a guaranteed three years and $33 million. Also too extreme for the Orioles. John Brebbia just got $5.5 million from the White Sox for the upcoming season.
Gotta pay for the ‘pen, too.
Aroldis Chapman is still on the board, baggage and all. MLBTradeRumors predicted that he’d receive a two-year, $24 million deal, but also noted that he could be “at the one-year mercenary stage of his career.”
* As the days melt away and the snow turns to slush, I’m becoming more convinced that any starter who joins the Orioles would slot closer to the back end of the rotation. As I’ve said, prove me wrong. I’m cool with it.
I’ve had some people ask why they didn’t just bring back Kyle Gibson, who joined the Cardinals on a one-year, $12 million deal. They were aiming higher at the start of free agency, and Gibson signed on Nov. 21.
He didn’t leave any time to reconsider. He went poof before the Orioles could possibly pivot.
That’s my take.
The White Sox seem more inclined now to keep Dylan Cease and revisit trade talks at the deadline, which removes a big target for the Orioles.
The risks are injury and poor performance in the first half. But Cease isn’t a rental, so that works in Chicago’s favor.
Jordan Westburg reportedly is one of the players targeted by the White Sox, and Elias hasn’t expressed a willingness to move him. Westburg can get plenty of at-bats at second and third base, and also back up at shortstop if needed.
On the flip side, the Orioles have other options at both positions and Coby Mayo would find a clearer path. But Westburg was one of the organization’s top prospects until graduating – something that Baseball America apparently won’t let DL Hall do until he’s 50 – and he could be a monster contributor this season.
* It shouldn’t be much longer before the Orioles announce their spring training invites and guest instructors.
Ben McDonald and Scott McGregor will be in camp again. Who else?
* The news last week that Sports Illustrated was laying off anyone with a pulse was another massive blow to quality writing and journalism. A painful reminder of the fickle and cruel nature of the business.
As if we needed more of them.
What a week.
My parents got me a subscription in 1974, a year I remember because the first issue featured the Athletics and Dodgers on the cover in the World Series.
More memorable was walking to the mailbox and finding the swimsuit issue, with Cheryl Tiegs in Cancún. I didn’t know such a thing existed.
Neither did my mother. Believe me.
My father just smiled.