One of the responsibilities of being a fan is also serving as armchair general manager. The pay’s lousy but one of the perks is you can’t be fired.
Not everyone is going to fit in the dugout. Someone has to move up to the suites and make the hard roster decisions.
I have three questions for you to consider.
Would you re-sign Jesús Aguilar?
Aguilar sneaked into the trade deadline craziness on Aug. 31, the unexpected guest knocking on your door, when the Orioles signed him as a free agent after his release by the Marlins four days earlier.
The Orioles saw an opportunity to grab a power bat and included him on their expanded roster. He was an All-Star with the Brewers in 2018 while hitting 35 home runs and finishing with 108 RBIs and an .890 OPS. He had 22 homers and 93 RBIs with the Marlins in 2021.
Aguilar was slashing .188/.246/.347 since the All-Star break when Miami gave up on him, unable to find a trade partner. But perhaps he could offer some thump off the bench and also give the Orioles a legitimate backup to first baseman Ryan Mountcastle after they traded Trey Mancini to the Astros.
It didn’t really work out for the Orioles, who saw Aguilar hit .224/.240/.306 with one double, one home run, two RBIs, one walk and 13 strikeouts in 16 games.
Aguilar was 1-for-18 before going 2-for-3 against the Nationals on Sept. 14. He went 2-for-5 with a home run on Sept. 18 in Toronto, playing a huge role in a 5-4 comeback victory over the Blue Jays.
While some Orioles faded down the stretch, Aguilar collected six hits in his last six games and 17 at-bats.
The Orioles must upgrade the lineup next season. An imposing hitter planted in the middle of it. Aguilar wouldn’t be the only move geared toward the offense. Is it worth bringing him to camp under the right terms?
Would you pick up Jordan Lyles’ $11 million option?
This could be tied to payroll, which makes it a tougher call if you don’t know the budget.
Similar to the Aguilar argument, bringing back Lyles wouldn’t be the only rotation move. The Orioles could exercise the option and still spend on a veteran starter via free agency or by inheriting a big contract.
Spending $11 million on Lyles isn’t outrageous in today’s market. Let’s start there. The question is whether the Orioles believe the money is better used elsewhere.
Lyles led the club with 32 starts and 179 innings. He also led in wins with 12. You old-timers remember when that mattered.
(Just like batting average, which is useless now, but expected batting average is hugely important. Don’t ask.)
There’s more to Lyles than his durability, bulldog mentality and leadership. The 4.42 ERA won’t blow you away, but he registered 13 quality starts in a season when pitchers were brought along slowly in the first month following the lockout and abbreviated spring training.
Lyles was removed in back-to-back starts in April after allowing one run in 5 1/3 innings and tossing five scoreless innings.
John Means could miss the first few months, depending on his recovery from Tommy John surgery and when he’s cleared to pitch. The rotation is a targeted area for executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias. Lyles can help again and serve as a mentor for Grayson Rodriguez and the other young starters. But do you want him at $11 million?
Do you trade an outfielder?
You might if the hitter you acquire is an outfielder.
Otherwise, the roster can hold Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Kyle Stowers and Ryan McKenna. One of them can be used as the designated hitter – unless the hitter you acquire is a DH.
Man, you have a lot to consider this winter.
Colton Cowser is expected to make his major league debut in 2023, but he won’t break camp with the team. The Orioles don’t have an immediate need to create space.
Jake Cave is on the 40-man roster and could be in the spring mix for a roster spot. I don’t know how he’d fit with the other outfielders, but that’s not my problem. I’m not in the front office.
Are you shopping an outfielder or standing pat?