Gold Gloves, free agency and more

The Rawlings Gold Glove Award winners will be announced tonight on ESPN. The Orioles have two American League finalists, with Manny Machado at third base and Chris Davis at first.

Machado is competing against the Rangers’ Adrian Beltre and the Mariners’ Kyle Seager. Davis is competing against the Royals’ Eric Hosmer and the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland.

I’m not expecting the Orioles to bring home a winner this year. Machado won it in 2013 and 2015, and he also won a Platinum Glove in 2013. Davis was a finalist in 2013.

Beltre won the award in 2011 and 2012 and Seager won it in 2014. Hosmer has won the award the last three seasons.

Here’s another look at the AL finalists:

Catcher: Carlos Perez (Angels), James McCann (Tigers), Salvador Perez (Royals)

First base: Chris Davis (Orioles), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Mitch Moreland (Rangers)

Second base: Robinson Cano (Mariners), Ian Kinsler (Tigers), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)

Third base: Manny Machado (Orioles), Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Kyle Seager (Mariners)

Shortstop: Andrelton Simmons (Angels), Jose Iglesias (Tigers), Francisco Lindor (Indians)

Left field: Brett Gardner (Yankees), Alex Gordon (Royals), Colby Rasmus (Astros)

Center field: Jackie Bradley Jr. (Red Sox), Kevin Pillar (Blue Jays), Kevin Kiermaier (Rays)

Right field: Mookie Betts (Red Sox), Adam Eaton (White Sox), George Springer (Astros)

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey (Blue Jays), Justin Verlander (Tigers), Dallas Keuchel (Astros)

Today also marks the beginning of the free agency free-for-all, with teams allowed to negotiate with any player. Exclusive negotiating rights have ended.

MLB.com ranked the top 25 free agents based on WAR projections. Teams will take other factors into consideration, of course, but here’s the list.

Steve Pearce gray swing eyeblack.jpgSteve Pearce is the highest-ranked Orioles free agent at No. 16, with the following explanation:

2017 WAR projection: 1.2
Pearce has experience at all four corner spots, plus second base, but his most attractive attribute is his ability to crush left-handed pitching. While those numbers have fluctuated from year to year, Pearce owns an .852 career OPS against southpaws and has topped the 1.000 mark in two of the past three seasons.

Mark Trumbo is No. 18, with the following explanation:

2017 WAR projection: 1.1
This is one ranking likely to stir up some debate. Trumbo slammed an MLB-high 47 homers in his first season with Baltimore, yet poor defense in right field - when he wasn’t at DH - held him to a modest 1.6 WAR. There’s still a lot to like about Trumbo for teams in need of power, but keeping him at DH or first base is likely the most prudent course of action.

Trumbo finished one spot ahead of Matt Wieters:

2017 WAR projection: 1.1
The switch-hitter accepted Baltimore’s qualifying offer last offseason but then put together a fairly disappointing 2016. Wieters’ wRC+ of 88 ranked 14th out of 16 catchers with at least 400 plate appearances.

Former Orioles infielder Justin Turner is ranked first on the list. He’s come a long way.

MLBTradeRumors.com ranked its top 50 free agents and placed Trumbo eighth, Wieters 16th and Pearce 42nd. The site predicted that Trumbo will re-sign with the Orioles for $60 million over four years, Wieters will sign with the Braves for $39 million over three years and Pearce will sign with the Yankees for $10 million over two years.

Outfielder Michael Saunders, at No. 20, is projected to sign a three-year deal with the Orioles worth $33 million. Not if the Orioles are resistant to multi-year deals beyond their attempts to re-sign Trumbo.

Not everyone in the organization is convinced that Trumbo absolutely will turn down the $17.2 million qualifying offer, though it seems like the right time for him to cash in big after leading the majors with 47 home runs.

Meanwhile, I heard again that the Orioles are interested in catcher Jason Castro, 29, who’s 20th on the MLB.com list. He was an All-Star in 2013, but hasn’t come close to duplicating his .276/.350/.485 slash line or his 35 doubles and 18 home runs. His WAR has dropped from 4.5 to 1.8 to 1.3 to 0.9.

Castro threw out 24 percent of runners trying to steal, compared to 36 percent in 2015, but he receives high marks for his ability to frame pitches, an area where Wieters is criticized.

It’s a thin free agent market. Maybe Castro prices himself out of Baltimore with another team offering too many years. The Rockies did it with Nick Hundley following the 2014 season. Otherwise, the left-handed hitting Castro could work into a platoon of sorts with Caleb Joseph while the Orioles wait for top catching prospect Chance Sisco to crash the party.

Other one-year possibilities in free agency include Hundley and Chris Iannetta. Ryan Hanigan is available, but he averages more mound visits than anyone in history - I’m just assuming here - and isn’t exactly a favorite of the Orioles. He kills the pace of games with his deliberate approach.

Pigtown native and former Oriole Steve Clevenger is a free agent, but that ship has sailed. It left the dock before his controversial tweets, which led to a suspension by the Mariners, and it’s not circling back.

The general managers meetings are underway in Scottsdale, Ariz. The most commonly uttered phrase is, “OK, we’ll talk about this again at the Winter Meetings.”

The GM meetings are like a good leadoff hitter. They’re a table-setter. Executive vice president Dan Duquette isn’t expected to strike any deals, but he hopes to lay the groundwork for future agreements at the Winter Meetings or shortly beyond.

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