What were the five biggest stories of the offseason?

What were the five biggest stories of the offseason?
February 8, 2013, 11:30 am
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All in all, it was a pretty uneventful offseason for the Orioles. There were dozens of free agents linked with the Orioles. None of them were signed. Just as many players were part of trade talks. None happened.

With just four days until pitchers and catchers report, let’s look back on the most significant stories of the four-month hiatus.

1) The contract extensions for Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette

Both Showalter and Duquette’s contracts were extended through 2018, Showalter’s for five years and Duquette’s for four. Showalter’s extension was expected, though its length was longer than predicted.

Duquette had a fabulous year in his first as the team’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations. With two years remaining on his contract, there wasn’t much talk of an extension though team owner Peter Angelos praised both when asked about a Showalter extension last October.

With the long-term marriage here, the Orioles can confidently make deals without the pressure of feeling the need for instant gratification. That’s Duquette’s style, anyway.

Showalter, the most popular manager in years, is at home in Baltimore, and his style resonates with the fan base.

2) Letting Mark Reynolds go

Even though Mark Reynolds’ pricey option for 2013 was declined, it was a surprise when the Orioles made no effort to keep him.

Reynolds made $7.5 million last year and would have made $11 million had his option been picked up. That wasn’t going to happen.

Instead, the Orioles did not offer him a contract for this year, and didn’t even make a token effort to retain him.

He quickly signed with Cleveland for $6 million. Reynolds had a horrible first four months of 2012, but was solid both offensively and defensively at first base toward the end of the season.

Reynolds’ departure means the Orioles have a hole at first base. Chris Davis will try to fill it.

3) Not adding a big bat

During the Winter Meetings, all sorts of names were thrown around, Garrett Jones, Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Justin Morneau, Michael Morse. None of them found their way to Baltimore.

Duquette says that teams asked for too much of the Orioles’ young pitching. Some fans were unhappy that the team didn’t make a move or two to add a bat.

The Orioles weren’t serious players for Josh Hamilton, Adam LaRoche or Nick Swisher. Too pricey.

The Orioles’ payroll will grow to about $90 million or so in 2013, and the team is choosing to reward its own players rather than go after big ticket free agents.

4) Not adding another pitcher

With Joe Saunders heading to Seattle and Jair Jurrjens’ signing becoming more questionable by the hour, the Orioles starters are going to be familiar faces.

There weren’t many pitchers in the Orioles’ price range this winter. Zack Greinke was far too expensive, and Kyle Lohse would require surrendering a draft pick.

Saunders’ return was a possibility, but he picked Seattle instead.

Duquette and Showalter may want to point to Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman as adding starters.

5) Saying goodbye to Robert Andino

Andino was a fan favorite. He’ll forever be remembered for beating Boston in 2011, but after a lackluster 2012, the Orioles didn’t want to increase his salary. Just before they’d have to offer him a contract, Andino was dealt to Seattle for outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

Duquette said he helped turn the franchise around. Showalter rescued him from the obscurity of Norfolk, and fans enjoyed his comical movie reviews.

The media enjoyed his boastfulness. Andino even volunteered to pitch or catch if needed, and we’ll always remember his declaration. “I’m no future teller.”