Hall of Fame voter Mark Zuckerman on the 2014 class
After the Orioles traded Jim Johnson last month, there was lots of speculation about his replacement. One obvious name was Fernando Rodney, but at the time there didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in the organization.
Other names were mentioned more prominently, and the team quickly zeroed in on Grant Balfour. After that deal collapsed, there was some brief speculation that Rodney would be the Orioles’ choice for closer.
With spring training less than three weeks away, there aren’t many attractive free agents remaining, at least those who don’t require losing a draft choice.
Rodney is one of them. It’s more important for the Orioles to try and sign a starter, perhaps Bronson Arroyo or A.J. Burnett, than another reliever. But, if Rodney’s price is reasonable, sort of within what Balfour signed with Tampa Bay for—2 years, $12 million—why not?
Maybe Rodney would sign for a year? That might be even better.
Some have suggested the Orioles sign one of the available free agents who require compensation—Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales—cheaply for a year. If you’re going to lose a draft pick, why sign someone for just a year?
It’s clear they don’t want to lose a draft choice, and they shouldn’t.
One name that hasn’t been mentioned is Vernon Wells, released last week by the New York Yankees. Wells’ astronomical contract is in its last year, and most of it is being paid for by the Angels, but wouldn’t he be worth a look.
Wells has tailed off in recent years. Last year, he had 11 homers, 50 RBIs and a .233 average in 130 games for the Yankees. At 35, perhaps he could be productive playing less regularly than he did in New York.
He has 14 home runs in 88 career games in Baltimore with a .281 average.
Besides the bigger names, some of the former Orioles that are still available on the free agent list are Luis Ayala, Erik Bedard, Wilson Betemit, Bruce Chen, Freddy Garcia, Michael Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, Jason Hammel, Jair Jurrjens, Pat Neshek, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Saunders and Ty Wigginton. Most of those names are of no interest to the Orioles.