A few random questions as the Orioles reach another off-day on their schedule:
What will the Orioles do in free agency this winter while committing to a rebuild?
They could stay away from it and focus on trading a few more veterans in exchange for younger players or more international signing bonus slots. Perhaps check whether there’s a market for Mark Trumbo as he enters the final year of his deal and is owed $13.5 million in 2019, according to Cot’s Contracts.
Trumbo receives $1.5 million annually deferred from 2020 through 2022 and he has limited no-trade protection, with the ability to block trades to seven clubs.
The Orioles also could use some of the money saved in their non-waiver deadline deals to bring in a couple of veterans on short-term deals to plug a few holes.
Assuming that outfielder Adam Jones leaves via free agency, the Orioles might decide that they need to fill a leadership void. The influential voices are growing more quiet inside the clubhouse.
Will the Orioles remain active players in the Rule 5 draft?
I don’t know whether the renewed commitment to the international market and other changes in organizational philosophy will eliminate the shopping spree on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
The Orioles tried to carry three Rule 5 picks on their opening day roster, including outfielder Anthony Santander, who needed 44 more days to shed his status, and it blew up in their faces. But it’s still an inexpensive way to pad a roster and bring prospects into the system.
Just don’t try to hold onto more than one.
And speaking of the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles had serious interest in left-handed reliever Austin Davis, but decided to pass on him. He stayed in the Phillies system and has appeared in 17 games with them this season, posting a 3.38 ERA and striking out 26 batters in 21 1/3 innings.
He hasn’t surrendered a home run.
Meanwhile, the Orioles optioned Santander to Double-A Bowie after 44 days, returned left-hander Nestor Cortes Jr. to the Yankees and placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the disabled list with a sprained elbow after he allowed 24 runs in 28 innings, walked 18 batters and gave up nine home runs.
Of more immediate interest here, what happens to Tim Beckham after the season?
Beckham hasn’t shown that he’s trustworthy on the left side of the infield and the Orioles again will vow to tighten up their defense and make it a priority over the winter. He’s collecting $3.35 million this season and set up for another raise in arbitration.
The Orioles could keep him at shortstop, move him back to third base, put him in a utility role or non-tender him. A trade is a possibility if they can find any takers.
The utility idea is flawed, of course, if they’re concerned about his defense.
The Rays acquired pitcher Tobias Myers from the Orioles in the Beckham trade, and the sixth-round pick in 2016 is 10-5 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 19 games (17 starts) at Single-A Bowling Green.
Do the Orioles commit to Cedric Mullins as their opening day center fielder?
They could go into camp with that idea and see how it plays out, but there’s got to be a Plan B. Also, there are scouts who project Mullins as more of a fourth outfielder.
They don’t get a vote, but I’m just passing it along.
I’d bring up Mullins pronto and give him plenty of at-bats to get a feel for his readiness.
It doesn’t matter whether he plays center or right while Jones remains on the roster. It’s about pitting him against major league pitching. We already know that he can cover a lot of ground and make sensational diving catches. It happened with regularity in spring training and has continued at two levels this season.