The Baltimore Orioles seemed like great contenders to win it all in 2017. With fantastic power hitting and the best closer in baseball, the Orioles appeared locked in for a deep playoff run. That wasn’t the case, however, as the Blue Jays knocked out Baltimore in the Wild Card.
After a disappointing end to an otherwise great season, the Baltimore Orioles looked to be busy in the offseason. They knew that Mark Trumbo, Matt Wieters, Pedro Alvarez and Steve Pearce could all potentially leave if they so pleased. Baltimore knew that their starting pitching wasn’t the greatest, and that to make that extra push they needed a more well-rounded team. The Baltimore Orioles knew that they needed to get things done this offseason to remain as playoff contenders. Now, in January of 2017, the same situation applies as the Orioles still seem right outside the cusp of greatness.
With one of the best managers in the league, Buck Showalter, the Orioles must properly build a solid club to compete for titles. While they have some decent prospects, their farm is in no way ready for the future. Sure, they could trade Manny Machado for a plethora of prospects, but the wise move seems to be win with him now, and slowly build the farm system up. With only two more seasons remaining in Baltimore, the Orioles must put together a winner that can convince Machado to stay at Camden Yards. Machado is Baltimore’s franchise player, and to be successful for a long time they need him to stick around.
With that being said, there are a few moves that could accelerate the Orioles into the postseason. Sure, one of the most critical moves would need a handful of smaller moves to achieve the purpose, but the end goal is still the same. With time not on their side, here are three moves to help the Orioles return to October.
Trey Mancini is not a household name for many baseball fans, and in 2017 he may become one. The 24-year-old first baseman made his MLB debut for the Baltimore Orioles in September of last season. Mancini only appeared on the Orioles for five games last season, but in a small sample size put up good numbers. Now, without Pedro Alvarez potentially blocking him at the designated hitter slot, Mancini can make the move to become Baltimore’s full-time designated hitter. This is a move that will pan out for Baltimore exceptionally.
In the five games that Mancini saw at the big league level he put up good numbers. Mancini logged 14 at-bats with five hits, three home runs, and five runs batted in. I know it is ridiculous to judge a guy off of 14 at bats, but his adjustment to big league pitching didn’t take long. It is his numbers in the minors that help back up Mancini’s case as a potentially great player. In 483 minor league games Mancini batted .306 with 54 home runs and 275 runs batted in. After his jump to AAA Mancini batted .280 with 13 home runs and 54 runs batted in during 125 games.
Mancini’s progression seems to be happening rapidly. While he may not be the next big superstar, he is an often unheard of name that will contribute in 2017. Next season, Baltimore must let the young right-handed batter loose, and allow him to log a good amount of playing time. If they can do this, he will progress even faster and be able to produce for the Orioles in October.
The Baltimore Orioles are short an arm or two in their rotation, and Tyson Ross could be the solution. Filled with young guys, the Orioles pitching staff may be destined to be better than we all think. However, with one more quality arm the Orioles could find themselves in a very good position as the year progresses. Tyson Ross provides that. He is a low-risk, high-reward acquisition for Baltimore. The Orioles should take a gamble on Ross and potentially reap the benefits.
As of late, multiple teams have come out as interested in bringing in Ross for 2017. Of these teams, none have been rumored to be the Baltimore Orioles. That does not mean that Baltimore certainly wouldn’t love to have Ross, as he could give the Orioles much-needed depth in their starting rotation. The 6-foot-6 Ross put together three great seasons from 2013-2015, and likely would have done the same in 2016 if it wasn’t for injury. Sure, this move may seem risky to the Baltimore Orioles as Ross is coming off intense shoulder issues.
However, this risk would be worthwhile for the Orioles to take. Ross could join the several young pitchers that the Orioles have, and if they all progress together they could be deadly. Ross serves as the perfect young guy to bring in that is already great, and could lift his teammates to the promised land and help them reach their ceilings. The Orioles cannot afford to miss out on Tyson Ross, because outside of him there aren’t many great options. Baltimore must take the risk on Ross, watching their pitching staff improve because of it.
The Baltimore Orioles shouldn’t attempt to reinvent the wheel in 2017. They instead should utilize its abilities. Baltimore was so successful in 2016 due to their power numbers. Their ability to score runs is what shot them into the postseason to begin with. Yes, they need to address the pitching staff, making it more complete for when they get to October. However, getting to October shouldn’t be a problem for the Orioles if they simply stick to what made them great in the first place.
The obvious goal for Baltimore would be to re-sign Mark Trumbo. We are already in January, and perhaps the best power-hitting free agent is still on the market. Whether that is due to the lack of interest, or the lack of money, Trumbo is still available. The more time goes on, the better chance the Orioles have of re-signing Trumbo. If Baltimore can manage to bring back their leading slugger and slap him in the outfield, it will be a big jolt for their chances. Many people are already writing them off as they have lost too much power, but adding Trumbo would silence these talks.
However, even with Trumbo back in the fold the Orioles are still losing power. Matt Wieters, Pedro Alvarez and Steve Pearce combined for 52 home runs last season and 4.8 WAR,according to Fangraphs. While Mancini has the potential of a 20 home run season at designated hitter next season, the Orioles could use some extra production.
Assuming that Baltimore loses those three guys, Trevor Plouffe may be a good option. Plouffe could set up a good platoon with Ryan Flaherty at third base, primarily moving Machado to short and opening J.J. Hardy up for trade. Also, if unhappy with their catching situation Baltimore could bring in Jarod Saltalamacchia. Saltalamacchia is a switch hitter who bats better from the left side, and he could be the perfect platoon mate to Wellington Castillo.