Taking another look at the pending free agents

Having lost an off-day later this month to a doubleheader against the White Sox, the Orioles will savor today’s break in the schedule before focusing on a weekend series against the Angels at Camden Yards.

I’m not sure how long it will take for the shock to wear off that they’re playing a team outside the American League East.

One against the White Sox and two against the Mets. That’s the complete list.

Asked last night if he’s glad to be venturing away from the division, manager Buck Showalter replied, “No, not at all.”

I’m thinking maybe a little, just to mix it up.

“When it’s all said and done, everybody’s going to say the American League West was a great division this year, the Central was a great division,” Showalter said. “You don’t know what the competition ... It’s around every corner.

“Nobody is going to or will relax. You’ve seen the schedule. You’ve just seen people you’re going to face it seems half the season. I don’t look at it that way at all.”

Chen throwing at Fenway.jpgWei-Yin Chen takes the mound on Friday as one of the Orioles’ 10 pending free agents. I doubt that he’s thinking about his next contract while peering in for the sign, but that’s his status.

From a group consisting of Chen, Bud Norris, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter, Steve Pearce, Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young and Wesley Wright, I’d place the over/under on players re-signed at three.

Sounds too low? Well, I’d take the under if pressed to wager today.

I’m not saying with any certainty that the Scott Boras clients are gone, but that’s a good starting point. You’ll find plenty of people in the industry, and at least a few in the Orioles organization, who are making that assumption regarding Chen, Davis and Wieters.

Of course, Wieters could develop into a really interesting case depending on his production once he comes off the disabled list. Would he settle for a one-year deal, the platform type that so richly benefitted Nelson Cruz, and re-enter the market following the 2016 season? Would he take a qualifying offer?

The Orioles talked to Alejandro De Aza’s agent about a two-year deal before deciding to go to arbitration with him. It was a jarring shift in negotiations. They won, of course, because that’s what the Orioles do in those rare instances.

The club is prepared to lose two-fifths of its rotation, including Norris, and already is projecting Kevin Gausman as one of the replacements. The Orioles think they can build a nice list of candidates for the other vacancy, including Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson, Zach Davies and Dylan Bundy.

Keep in mind that Bundy is out of minor league options after this season. The Orioles need to figure out whether he’s a potential starter for them or a bullpen piece. It’s already being discussed.

Bundy’s fastball is back up to 96 mph at Double-A Bowie as he puts more distance between himself and the elbow surgery in 2013.

Wesley Wright has made two appearances with the Orioles and currently is rehabbing a strained left trapezius muscle. Seems unfair to make a final judgment on him, but the Orioles were willing to move him in spring training in the right (or Wright) deal and figure to let him walk unless he comes back later this summer and dominates.

Of course, if that happens, they might not be able to afford him. You know how it goes. But seriously, I’m assuming for now that he’s going to be one and done in Baltimore. We’ll see.

Maybe Young will just go year-to-year with the Orioles. It seems to be working for him. But I’ll list him as doubtful at this point, with the freedom to change my mind later. We’re only 32 games into the season.

We’re left with O’Day, Hunter and Pearce. Of that trio, I’d name O’Day the most likely to return. And I could be way off, so don’t bet the rent money.

As always, so much depends on the level of interest from other teams and whether the Orioles believe they can find suitable replacements within the system or on the market. They’d love to plug Dariel Alvarez into the outfield, as one in-house example.

Here’s how the 10 free agents are faring through 32 games:

Chen: 1-1, 2.52 ERA in six starts
Norris: 1-4, 9.88 ERA in six starts
O’Day: 0-0, 0.69 ERA, one save in 14 games
Hunter: 1-1, 4.85 ERA in 13 games
Wright: 0-0, 5.40 ERA in two games
Wieters: Hasn’t played this season
Davis: .246/.313/.509, six doubles, eight homers, 21 RBIs, 50 strikeouts
De Aza: .228/.282/.405, three doubles, one triple, three homers, seven RBIs
Pearce: .176/.262/.270, one double, two homers, nine RBIs
Young: .291/.317/.342, four doubles, 10 RBIs

So on this off-day, go ahead and handicap the chances of each player coming back in 2016 from most to least likely.

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