The MLB Playoffs are in full effect, but the Orioles are not involved. The Orioles surprised many this year, going from an abysmal 52-110 record in 2021, to 83-79 in 2022. General Manager Mike Elias has the team going down the rebuilding route, but they seem ahead of schedule. Many top prospects have been called up, such as SS Gunnar Henderson and C Adley Rutschman. The rookies have become an essential part of the lineup, and a huge reason why the O’s have had recent success. The front office made some sneaky good pickups last offseason, like SS Jorge Mateo and SP Jordan Lyles. Both players were snagged on cheap deals and have been very productive down the stretch.
The O’s came alive during a 10-game winning streak in July, and have been consistently winning since. Unfortunately, the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Rays also kept winning, which made the playoff race challenging. Making the playoffs would have been nice, but finishing with a winning record is a huge success. Elias has said he wants to spend in the offseason, but who could he pick up? There are some big names on the market, like Dodgers speedster Trea Turner and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, but they will likely head elsewhere. The O’s have never been a big spending team, but I expect them to make small additions to improve the team.Embed from Getty Images
The main focus should be a backup catcher. Starter Adley Rutschman can’t catch every day, and his backup Robinson Chirinos is 38 and on the verge of retirement. Current Rangers catcher Kevin Plawecki would be great for the role. Plawecki provides solid defense, as well as an average bat. The O’s have not had a serviceable backup catcher since Caleb Joseph, who left the team in 2018. Having a backup catcher would be crucial to winning games when Adley needs rest.Embed from Getty Images
The next concern has to be pitching. Top prospect Grayson Rodriguez is expected to be added to a rotation that overachieved this season. Rodriguez seems to be the long-term ace, but they need an ace now. Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells had solid seasons, but they weren’t consistent. 2022 ace Jordan Lyles will enter free agency and is not expected to return to the team. The pitcher market features some big names, like 3x Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, and Giants All-Star Carlos Rodón. Those two aren’t impossible to acquire, but it will be tough. My choice among the many solid pitchers in free agency would be Michael Wacha of the Red Sox. Wacha has a decent ERA at 3.06, and has been reliable this year, pitching 123.1 innings. Sure, it’s not a flashy signing, but it will get the job done.Embed from Getty Images
It all depends on what Elias wants to do. He could spend big, or stay conservative. Prospects are what this organization is centered around, not free agents or veterans. The O’s are infamous for trading away big players for prospects yearly. These risky trades often don’t work out, but they have before. So let’s say the Orioles have one of these in the offseason. Who gets traded? The answer should be Austin Hays. While Hays is a great fielder and hitter, the O’s outfield is overloaded, and Hays has been slumping. A new change of scenery would be great for his career. OF Colton Cowser will likely take his spot anyway. It just doesn’t make sense to have a player like Hays on the bench. Hopefully, the front office makes decent decisions that can improve the team, and not hurt it like in past years.