After signing Chris Davis to a club-record contract over the weekend, the Baltimore Orioles are, hopefully, moving onto addressing other weaknesses on their roster. The starting rotation and corner outfield spots were a huge disappointment for the Orioles in 2015, with both ranking among the worst in the American League. There are options still left to be had on the free-agent market to address both areas, but realistically speaking, the Orioles will probably only be able to sign one more free agent this winter.
I say probably because it is difficult to figure exactly how ownership and the front office plans to spend whatever money has been budgeted for 2016. This offseason’s spending has now surged past the $200 million mark, Davis signed the first nine-figure contract in team history, and the roster for the upcoming season will likely surpass last year’s by well over $20 million.
The Orioles have shown a willingness to spend this winter, and whether you like the decision by the Orioles to outbid the Orioles by $7 million (although fancy accounting will actually render the $161 million total value roughly $10 million less than the original $154 million offer) for Davis, it is a sign that Peter Angelos is serious about keeping a winning roster on the field. At one point, when Camden Yards was still shiny and fresh, the Orioles had one of the highest payrolls in the league. Angelos does not have an aversion to spending money, but he does want to make sure that money is being spent to build a winning ballpark.
With a handful of quality arms available, it is very likely the Orioles will bring on a mid-tier arm to help improve on last year’s mess. Perhaps it is not out of the realm of possibility to think the Orioles could still somehow find a way to be in on Yoenis Cespedes. There may be some microscopic hope that Angelos will open his billion-dollar bank account for one more bat in an effort to win a World Series before the inevitable happens. The man is 86 after all.
Cespedes is still out there, but his demands may be unreasonable. Justin Upton on a pillow contract makes the most sense, but someone will step up to pay him. Austin Jackson and Dexter Fowler would not represent enough of an upgrade to pass on starting pitching if there is still money to be spent.
The Orioles would see more everyday impact by signing Cespedes or Upton to play right field, but that is very unlikely. Starting pitching it will be if Dan Duquette is allowed to write one more big check this offseason. With a few more names still on the market, who are the best options to round out the Orioles rotation in 2016?