I’ve decided to begin the morning by addressing one rumor and squelching speculation about a former Oriole.
I received a tweet about a Facebook status - yeah, so far it’s rock solid - claiming that Nelson Cruz was buying a television in Baltimore for his mother because he received a new contract from the Orioles.
I have no idea whether Cruz purchased a TV, but I’ve been told by three people in the industry that he doesn’t have a contract with the Orioles. He can become a free agent immediately after the World Series and word on the street is he’s seeking a five-year deal.
The Orioles want to keep him, but not at four or five years. He’s still more likely to receive a qualifying offer for $15.3 million.
That’s still enough to purchase a flat screen.
Cruz had to seriously lower his demands last winter after refusing the Rangers’ qualifying offer of $14.1 million and wound up with a one-year, $8 million contract. It served as a “platform” for Cruz, as executive vice president Dan Duquette called it.
Fans are wondering whether the Orioles will hire former second baseman Brian Roberts as a coach on the major league staff or in the minors.
First of all, has Roberts stated that he wants to be a coach? It’s like fans wondering why the Orioles don’t put Cal Ripken Jr. on the coaching staff or make him a minor league manager. He’s got to have interest before it can be considered, and he has zero interest.
The Orioles don’t have a spot for Roberts. You also may have noticed that their parting wasn’t warm and fuzzy. Roberts will always consider himself an Oriole, as he told me a few nights ago, but he’s disappointed that they didn’t make an effort to re-sign him and they’re wondering why he didn’t give them a chance to counter the Yankees’ offer.
There’s no bad blood and Roberts will be inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame one of these days, but a reunion isn’t in the works.
There’s also been speculation that the Orioles will non-tender first baseman Chris Davis. I’ve raised the possibility, but I’m now hearing that he’s staying in 2015.
Davis made $10.3 million this year and will likely get a bump next season despite batting .196, having his home run total drop from 53 to 26 and serving a 25-game suspension for a second failed test for amphetamines.
The Orioles actually are in a nice position. They didn’t overreact to Davis’ 2013 season and sign him to a huge extension. Right now, that looks like a smart move. If he comes up big in his contract year, it increases their chances of making another run at the World Series. They’re still going for it. The window hasn’t slammed shut.
They can worry about signing Davis to a long-term deal later if his performance warrants it. If he remains in decline, let him go and see whether Christian Walker is ready to inherit the position in 2016. Just focus on winning the World Series next year with Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and most likely Nick Markakis. That’s an impressive core.
The Orioles remain confident that they can sign Markakis to a multi-year deal. Both sides want it bad. And they haven’t abandoned hope of keeping left-hander Andrew Miller despite how practically every team in baseball will pursue him.
MLBTradeRumors.com speculated that Miller could receive a four-year, $32 million deal. That’s beyond where the Orioles would be willing to go, but they’re not bowing out this early.
The Twins still haven’t contacted Orioles bench coach John Russell about interviewing for their managerial position. Everyone I’ve talked to said they heard during the American League Championship Series that Paul Molitor was the choice. And yet the job remains open.
The Orioles still need to find a replacement for Triple-A Norfolk hitting coach Denny Walling, who’s retiring so he can spend more time with his family. It’s being discussed this week.
The Orioles also need to get Tides manager Ron Johnson and pitching coach Mike Griffin under contract for 2015. They’re highly regarded in the organization and the Orioles have no intention of letting them go unless they get an offer at the major league level.