As the Orioles move through another month of their offseason and draw closer to the start of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 9, they haven’t ventured far from predictability.
This team needs at least one starting pitcher and reliever to improve their depth and allow their prospects to develop at the proper pace without being rushed. They’re willing to talk trades and one-year deals and delve into the minor league free agent market.
Nothing splashy. Nothing that deviates from the previous approach.
As executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said last week, “I think it’s fair to describe it as we won’t be behemoths in free agency, but we’ll be monitoring things and we will look heavily at any trade possibilities and I anticipate that we have some activity.”
In other words, don’t hang around waiting for the Gerrit Cole jerseys to go on sale at the Orioles team store.
Elias needs to give manager Brandon Hyde better relief options. The bullpen posted a 5.79 ERA and 1.514 WHIP this summer. Thirty-two different pitchers came out of it, including 12 who also made starts. Four position players were used in emergency situations.
Finding the right combinations was a futile exercise. Like shoving Chipotle in your mouth while jogging on a treadmill.
Will Smith received a three-year, $39 million deal from the Braves and MLBTradeRumors.com predicts that Will Harris will earn $18 million from the Cubs over two years and Drew Pomeranz will get $16 million over two years from the Dodgers. The elite guys are way out of the Orioles’ financial reach.
Some of the lower-tier guys also elude their fingertips.
The Orioles will address these needs and can do it after the Winter Meetings. They always seem to lead the league in spring training transactions.
How often have they brought a veteran infielder to camp after position players reported? I lost count.
They’re targeting a shortstop, ideally someone who also can move around the infield but definitely a veteran with a good defensive reputation at the position. I’ll mention Adeiny Hechavarría again.
Austin Hays is penciled into center field, the name turning to ink if he’s healthy. The Orioles have other options, including Cedric Mullins, but they’re going to sign an outfielder to a minor league deal with a spring training invite.
Mason Williams turned down an outright assignment in order to test free agency, but the Orioles would like to bring him back to the organization if he can’t come up with a better offer.
The other item on the shopping list is a veteran catcher to join Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns in camp. One possibility is Caleb Joseph, who played for the Orioles from 2014-18 and appeared in 20 games with the Diamondbacks this season.
Joseph could be non-tendered and join the free agent market. If so, keep an eye on him.
Here’s the current list of free agent catchers as provided by MLBTradeRumors.com:
Alex Avila (33)
Welington Castillo (33)
Jason Castro (33)
Francisco Cervelli (34)
Robinson Chirinos (36)
Travis d’Arnaud (31)
Tim Federowicz (32)
Dustin Garneau (32)
Yan Gomes (32)
Yasmani Grandal (31)
Chris Herrmann (32)
John Hicks (30)
Bryan Holaday (32)
Nick Hundley (36)
Chris Iannetta (37)
Jonathan Lucroy (34)
Martín Maldonado (33)
Russell Martin (37)
Austin Romine (31)
Jesús Sucre (32)
Blake Swihart (28)
Stephen Vogt (35)
Matt Wieters (34)
Sucre isn’t returning to the Orioles.
They’ll again seek someone on a minor league deal, the most likely path to a fourth catcher.
Martin Cervenka remains in the organization, but hasn’t played more than 12 games above Double-A. He’s more likely to fill a roster spot with Triple A Norfolk.