So 2014 Is Done For The O’s. Now What?

Featured, Sports and Bets — October 17, 2014 at 12:51 am by

The Birds’ season came to an abrupt and brutal end Wednesday night at the hands of a red-hot Kansas City Royals team.  Getting swept by a wild-card team is a bitter pill to swallow, but I guess now we know how the Angels feel.  The O’s got outplayed and out-lucked over the course of the short, four game ALCS.  The Royals caught every break.  They also did all the little things right while the Orioles definitely did not.  The result was a shocking and sweeping victory for the boys in Royal Blue.

But all things considered, the O’s season was, as Adam Jones said, “Fucking Awesome.”.  The Birds won 96 games and won the American League East for the first time since 1997.  They also made the ALCS, which also hadn’t happened since 1997.  Sure, they got pooped on by the Royals, but it was still an incredible season.  I’ll take winning the A.L East and making the ALCS over sucking like we did for 14 years any day.

All hail Buck and DD.  (And Andy McPhail, who played a huge part in building the new winning Orioles.)

And all of this hailing of the Baltimore Baseball Brain Trust brings us to these questions: Now what?  What will this offseason bring and what will this team look like when Spring Training begins in just four months?

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These are solid questions.  The Orioles have seven impact players eligible for free agency (Four face a club-option, Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young and Andrew Miller are the only pure “free agents.”).  They also have eleven players eligible for arbitration.  Plus, if we know one thing about Dan Duquette, it’s that he is always looking to make the O’s better.

The next few months will be busy ones the 2014 A.L. East Champs.

So let’s take a look at the O’s free agents and arbitration eligible players.  I’ll also predict their chances of being an Oriole in 2015.

Free Agents:

Nelson Cruz has stated that he would like to remain with the Orioles.  Cruz fit in real well with the club and led the majors with 40 home runs.  He also drove in 109 runs and batted .271.  Oh, he also won game three of the ALDS with his two-run home run. Not bad for $8 million.  But now Cruz will be looking for big bucks and someone will give it to him.  It’s rumored that the O’s will offer a $15.3 million qualifying offer, but Cruz will want multiple years.  He’s 34.  Will the Birds offer three years?  Maybe.  But first, look for a 2 year offer in the $25-30 million range.  Maybe three years/$40 million.  But I doubt the Birds will sink more than that into the DH/Left Fielder.  Paying Cruz till he’s 37 probably isn’t the best idea anyway and Nelson did only bat .249 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs in the second half of the season.  While signing him will be, and should be, a priority, giving big, big bucks to an aging slugger probably isn’t in the cards.  Hopefully Nelson is happy enough here to ignore the bigger offers that may come from elsewhere. (Chance he’s here next year: 60%)

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Andrew Miller didn’t join the Birds until after the trade deadline, but can you even imagine this team without him?  Miller was an absolute stud in the bullpen for the O’s down the stretch, and in the playoffs, to the tune of a 1.35 ERA and an obscene 0.600 WHIP.  He became Buck’s go to guy in crunch time.  In my mind, Miller’s a must sign.  With a group of starters that don’t tend to go deep into games, the O’s need as strong a bullpen as possible.   Miller fits the profile.  Relievers don’t often gets long deals for crazy dollars for the simple fact that they seem to be year-to-year players.  Some years they’re great and some years they suck.  But Miller is a former first round pick who has found his niche.  2-3 years at $4-5 million per sounds about right.  (Chance he’s here next year: 80%)

Wei-Yin Chen has a club option for $4.75 for 2015.  With 16 wins  and a 3.54 ERA, $4.75 million is a bargain.  Chen will be in the rotation for 2015. (Chance: 100%)

Darren O’Day has a club option for $4.25 million for 2015.  He’s a great reliever and Buck loves him.  I see him back, but if the Birds get beat up in arbitration discussions and the team’s salary gets a little goofy, will paying O’Day over $4 mil matter?  I’d say no in this win now environment, but if it came down to the O’s keeping him or Miller who would you rather have?  (Chance: 80%)

Nick Markakis has a club option for $17.5 million.  That ain’t happening.  The O’s may re-negotiate or they may just give Nick his $2 million buy out.  The new negotiations are most likely for the solid Orioles’ right fielder.  Of course, if the Birds let Markakis go and signed Cuban sensation Yasmani Tomas to play right I wouldn’t be crying.  But that ain’t happening either for the $70-80 million he’ll command.  (Chance: 50%)

Nick Hundley also has a club option.  His is for $5 million.  With Wieters coming back and Caleb Joseph and Steve Clevenger around, I don’t see DD paying Hundley all that dough. (Chance 0%)

Delmon Young was huge for the O’s in a lot of clutch moments in 2014.  (See ALDS Game Two.)  If the O’s can get keep him cheap and have him accept his current role, his signing is a no-brainer.  The question will be if some one out there decides to give Young an everyday player chance.  He’s only 29 and he was a number one pick back in 2003. But he’s also been a lunatic on and off the field.  If his reputation keeps teams away, the O’s could retain his important part time services.  (Chance: 40%)

Arbitration

The following eleven players are arbitration eligible:

Brad Brach (Chance: 70%)

Steve Pearce (Chance: 80%)

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Matt Wieters (Chance: 100%)

Zach Britton (Chance: 80%)

Chris Davis (Chance: 80%)

Alejandro De Aza (Chance: 50%)

Ryan Flaherty (Chance 70%)

Tommy Hunter (Chance 50%)

Miguel Gonzalez (Chance 90%)

Brian Matusz (Chance: 10%)

Bud Norris (Chance: 100%)

Wow.  That’s a lot of decisions and negotiating.  The O’s can, of course, not offer contracts to whomever they want.  Any non-tendered player eligible for arbitration would become a free agent.  The O’s also could offer long term deals or one year deals to any player to avoid arbitration.  Or, an arbitrator could decide a player’s one year salary based on the two sides’ offers and the players performance.

Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez, Matt Wieters, and Steve Pearce are the virtual locks to be O’s in 2014.  You can never have enough pitching and Steve Pearce was in the top 10 in MLB in WAR.  It would be nice to see the Birds lock up Wieters long term, but they may await to see how he responds to his new elbow before they do that.

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They’ll get Davis on the cheap after his disaster season and suspension.  He’s a low risk/possible high upside signing.

As far as the rest go, your guess is as good as mine.  I love this roster, but bullpens always have high turnover rates and the other players, while talented, aren’t irreplaceable.

I see Flaherty, Brach, and Zach Britton as probably coming back. Everybody else is a 50/50 shot or less.

Free Agency

Some Birds will come and some will go.  I’d love the O’s to sign Max Scherzer or John Lester for $15o million plus dollars, or Ervin Santana or James Shields for $60 million, but that ain’t happening.  The Birds have a solid rotation and with Gausman showing his stones in the playoffs that rotation is going to get better from within the organization.  Plus, we’ve still got Dylan Bundy waiting in the wings.  Add Ubaldo Jimenez, who will be due for a good year since he had a shitty one this year, and you’ve got quality arms galore.  The rotation will be built from within.

One player who may be intriguing in free agency, especially if the O’s don’t sign Nelson Cruz, is Victor Martinez.  Martinez will be 36, but nobody had a better offensive year than he did.  Martinez hit .335 with 32 home runs and 103 RBIs.   Maybe two years/$25 million gets it done.

Whatever happens, I’ve got complete faith in the Baltimore Baseball Brain Trust.  Personally, I sign Cruz, Miller, Martinez, Tomas, Scherzer, and Lester.  That scenario has a 0% chance of happening.  But while my baseball fantasies aren’t realistic or probable, the Baltimore Baseball Brian Trust will keep us in the playoff hunt.  That’s 100% guaranteed, babes.

 

cover : masslive

stats: baseballreference.com

 

 

One Comment

  1. Chris Davis …..The big goose egg percent‼️

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