Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you know that the Chris Davis saga finally came to an end early Saturday morning when Davis agreed to a 7 year $161 million contract with $42 million deferred. That only gives him a payroll commitment of $119 million over the 7 years of the deal, or $17 million per season, giving the Orioles some extra payroll flexibility during that period.
With Davis back in the fold, the Orioles projected lineup also looks a lot more powerful than it did at the end of 2015:
Bench: C Joseph, OF Rickard, UT Flaherty, OF Urrutia
Still, the Orioles could use a leadoff or #2 hitter so that they can hit Manny Machado third in the batting order where he should remain for many seasons. Nolan Reimold might be able to fill that role, or maybe Henry Urrutia, but the Orioles really could use a more proven player in RF, and preferably left handed.
So who is available?
There are still plenty of free agent OF bats out there, but really a trade would work out best for the Orioles as they aren’t going to spend for another OFer like Upton when they have needs elsewhere, and all of the lower tier players are platoon or reserve players at best. The Orioles still could get Upton on a 1 year deal, but he’s likely to get a multi-year deal from somebody this offseason.
Cespedes is someone Buck Showalter reportedly wants no part of, so I don’t see him on a 1 year deal either.
With the free agents and internal options off the board, that leaves the trade route, and the Orioles could fill two needs at once:
Trade with the Dodgers for OF Andre Ethier and LHP Alex Wood.
I’ve mentioned Ethier numerous times, but he fits the need in right field and could either bat second or leadoff . It’s such a natural fit and this time with Wood coming back as well, it would be an even better fit.
Alex Wood was bumped out of the rotation when the Dodgers signed Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda and he struggled a bit in 2014 after being traded to the Dodgers with a 4.35 ERA and a dip in his K/9 and increase in his BB/9.
Orioles’ pitching coach Dave Wallace helped Wood gain the form he had in Atlanta when he was the minor league pitching coordinator for the Braves, so one would think Wallace would be able to help Wood if he were to be acquired by the Orioles.
His last full year in Atlanta, Wood had a 2.59 ERA in 24 starts with a 1.09 WHIP and 8.7 K/9. He’s also not eligible to be a free agent until after 2019.
Dylan Bundy is the first name that comes up in a return for this package because he’s expendable, being out of options and having to slot in the Orioles bullpen. With Davis back, a first base bat like Christian Walker also becomes expendable, or even Trey Mancini. The Orioles also have a number of other minor league arms like Tyler Wilson, Mike Wright or Parker Bridwell they could use to complete a deal. I would also see if I could dump Brian Matusz’s salary as part of the deal considering the money left on Ethier’s contract.
Even with Wood acquired, the Orioles still could use more rotation depth:
Sign a couple of “injury ward” pitchers
Dan Duquette has had success in this area before,signing Bret Saberhagen to a 1 year deal before the 1997 season to essentially rehab with the Red Sox and re-signing him after that to a multi-year deal when he contributed to the Red Sox winning a wild card berth in 1998 and 1999.
The Orioles have a good sized list of pitchers in this category they could go after such as Doug Fister, Bronson Arroyo, Cliff Lee and Justin Masterson.
I’ve mentioned Fister and Masterson before here and both make sense but the idea of bringing in Cliff Lee really is intriguing. Lee would most certainly require a major league deal, but he also mentioned the situation would have to be “perfect” for him not to retire and sign with a club. Well with Chris Davis back, as well as one of the best bullpens in baseball, the Orioles seem like a “perfect” situation to me. Lee could spend some time to in the minors if need be and come up in June to help the Orioles secure a playoff berth.
With these moves let’s take a look at what the Orioles’ roster would look like:
Bench: C Joseph, OF Rickard, UT Flaherty, OF Reimold
That’s a pretty deep lineup, and moving Gonzalez to the bullpen would make it one of the deepest in baseball. The rotation would be solid, and the Orioles could always add a TOR at the deadline if they felt they needed one.
Most importantly with all these moves, the Orioles never give up their first round draft pick.
There’s plenty that needs to be done before Opening Day, but there are some good options still available to the Orioles to complete their offseason re-tooling and put a World Series contender on the field on Opening Day.
It’s time to finish the job.