This was the week for talking, lots of it when it came to the Orioles. With nearly three months to spring training and free agency underway, the Orioles were the subject of countless rumors.
J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters were the subject to some. Later in the week, there was a report that the Orioles were engaged with the New York Mets in a trade for Nick Markakis, and then there was the suggestion that the Orioles could try and move Jim Johnson to save some salary.
Not all of these moves will occur. In fact, none of them may.
And, of course, there was the free agent speculation. The Orioles are supposedly interested in Carlos Beltran. Of course, they should be interested in Beltran, he’s a wonderful player who’s had a long and successful career.
But, is a 36-year-old outfielder who’s played two games in left field worth the cost of a first round draft pick? Beltran has played mostly center field in his 16-year career, but he’s also played 400 games in right field.
The Orioles will continue to be linked with countless players because they are willing to bid on them, if the price is right.
As a team that’s contended for the past two years, they don’t want to be a tease, good enough to be in the conversation, but short of championship quality. If there’s a player or two out there that can make up that difference, they’ll try and go after them.
Hardy has a year remaining on his contract, Wieters has two. It’s looking less realistic that Wieters will extend his stay in Baltimore beyond 2015, and dealing with uberagent Scott Boras is frustrating for many general managers. But, Wieters is a brilliant catcher, and short of a deal that’s truly tempting, the Orioles probably won’t consider moving him—yet.
A Hardy extension should be easier to achieve, but the reported deal of the shortstop for St. Louis’ Shelby Miller never gained traction. Miller was third in the Rookie of the Year voting, but disappeared during the postseason, pitching only an inning.
A quality young starter would be a great addition, but at the cost of one of baseball’s best shortstops?
The Markakis talk was interesting. From June through the end of the season, his last 105 games, Markakis had just three home runs and 26 RBIs.
He continued to play a great right field. His arm was strong, but his bat was empty. In July, he batted .305, but had just two RBIs.
Markakis, who will be 30 tomorrow, batted .271, more than 20 points below his lifetime average, and his 10 home runs were a career low.
He’s entering the final year of his contract and will earn $15 million. Markakis is one of the few Orioles who lives in the Baltimore area year round, but unless he’s willing to take a deep cut, 2014 is likely to be his final year in the region.
He does have a $17.5 million option with a $2 million buyout for 2015, but even though the Orioles don’t have a capable right fielder in the pipeline, they’ll look elsewhere in year.
With that large salary for next year, the Orioles would likely have to pay some of it if he were traded. Moving Markakis doesn’t seem a priority unless they wanted to clear some salary and a position for Beltran.
Would Dan Duquette actually surrender a first round pick for Beltran?
As the trading and free agent seasons picked up steam, the award seasons mercifully ended. Chris Davis didn’t win the Most Valuable Player Award. Few expected him to, but some were surprised that he finished not only behind Miguel Cabrera but in back of Mike Trout, too.
No Oriole got a vote in the Rookie of the Year or Cy Young voting, and surprisingly Buck Showalter picked a third place vote in the Manager of the Year balloting. The Seattle-based voter managed not to include either Terry Francona or John Farrell, the winner and runner up, on her ballot.
Last Monday, the Orioles officially named Dom Chiti as their bullpen coach, completing Showalter’s staff for 2014.
The announcement was made as Duquette attended the GM meetings in Orlando. Then, the dizzying talk started.
It was interesting in the middle of a challenging season for the Ravens to hear so much Orioles talk around town. That’s a sign of progress for the Orioles.
Two years ago when Adam Jones’ name was tossed around in trade chatter, there wasn’t the uproar that was caused by Hardy and Wieters rumors.
The Orioles have arrived. They have players other teams seemingly want.