Will the Orioles fill any holes this week?
Greetings from the Winter Meetings in Disney World, where I found my hotel and room without getting lost in the sprawling resorts here. (No small feat, trust me).
Baseball is back at the Swan & Dolphin resort this week and with such a busy offseason already –at least around the league– it remains to be seen how much actual news will come out of the next four days in Florida.
For the Orioles, it’s a crucial time coming off a week in which the organization made its first big move –trading closer Jim Johnson– for “resource allocation” that is waiting to be spent. Will the O’s, who have a length list of holes to fill, find any magic in Florida?
The team remains committed to adding a closer on the free agent market and it’s been widely reported that they have interest in John Axford.
You can add former Indian Chris Perez to that list. Perez, originally a product of the Cardinals farm system, was released by Cleveland in September and he could be a decent buy-low option. Perez had some injuries and off field issues last year, but FanGraphs shows his velocity started to come back toward the end of the year and owns a career 3.41 ERA in six seasons. The 28-year-old right-hander saved 25 games last year, 39 in 2012 and 36 in ’11, so he’s certainly got closing experience.
On the starting front, the Orioles weren’t willing to go near the $30-million over three years to retain Scott Feldman (which is what the Astros signed him to) and were prepared for him to leave given the way the free agent market for starters have developed this winter. Perhaps they revisit the idea of bringing back Jason Hammel now.
Who else is left? Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santanta are two names that have been kicked around in discussions although they’d have to weigh that again giving up a Draft pick because both guys declined their qualifying offers to test the market.
The Orioles best money spent in free agency would probably be on a bat but they’d have to shell out some serious money to get an impact guy, such as Nelson Cruz or Shin-Soo Choo. Last year’s power-filled lineup went through a lot of slumps last year, and adding some players known to get on base is another priority.
In addition to the news and all the rumors, MLB.com will hand out its Greatness in Baseball Yearly (GIBBY) Awards here in Orlando and Orioles manager Buck Showalter will meet with the media to discuss the team’s offseason needs and other moves. Stay tuned for a daily recap of all things O’s on Orioles.com and, I’ll be using my blog and Twitter to supplement coverage and help provide insightful news, thoughts and analysis in the most timely and accurate manner possible.
I’d also like to hear from you about what moves the Orioles are/aren’t making these next few days. Who should they aggressively pursue? Who is an expendable trade chip?
Fans are encouraged to take part by filling the comments section at Orioles.com this week and joining the discussion on Twitter with suggestions for getting the club back to the postseason.
By the end of the week, we should know a lot more about what direction the Orioles are headed in.