The GM meetings are occurring and the offseason has officially begun, and the Orioles will be looking for some new stopgaps at certain positions. Knowing Andy MacPhail, he will be looking away from expensive players and instead trying to find bargains while still being able to get a 25-man roster filled.
The Orioles have absolutely no chance at some of the big time free agents. As much as we would love to have John Lackey and/or Matt Holliday on the Birds, no chance that MacPhail will pony up as much money as the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox or others can. Also, this year’s free agent list does not look like a strong one overall. Chances are a star will not emerge to play for Baltimore.
The needs are pretty clear, in no particular order: third baseman, first baseman, any pitching (starting or relief).
–Third baseman: Melvin Mora is clearly not returning, so a new third baseman is needed. SI’s Ben Reiter said the Orioles would be a good fit for Adrian Beltre. He would be a good player, but the Orioles will want Josh Bell up in a year or sooner, so another stopgap may be necessary if Ty Wigginton is not chosen to start, plus Beltre is a Scott Boras client. I would like the Orioles to try to get Pedro Feliz, the former Phillies third baseman, which would cost five or so million likely for a .260 bat plus 10-15 home runs and great defense. But more likely a less known name would come. The Orioles could give a small contract to Bobby Crosby; he once was considered a very good player with the Athletics.
–First baseman: A few places had mentioned that the Orioles might have interest in former Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado. I really hope not, he is 37 and probably will cost a lot of money for an injury-prone player. Also almost no chance Aubrey Huff gets re-signed. The Orioles will want someone here that can compete with Mike Aubrey, and for a few million or less. A player like Ross Gload or Chad Tracy, someone that would sign for cheap and still provide a possible .250 bat could be good. If the Orioles want a power bat and are willing to pay six to eight million for it, they could try former Rangers first baseman Hank Blalock; who hit .234 with 25 home runs last year and will be 29 in 2010. If the Orioles do not sign a first baseman, expect Brandon Snyder to be in the majors in April.
–Pitching: The Orioles have a lot of good young pitching, but could use a decent veteran pitcher plus a closer to help solidify things. It would be interesting if the Orioles tried to take back Erik Bedard, but he probably can get enough money from somewhere else. This is the one place where MacPhail will need to bring out some real money to get what he wants. If the Orioles are willing to pay the big money, they could try to land a pitcher like Jon Garland, where he would be the ace. But more likely they will go after someone that would be behind Jeremy Guthrie, like a Todd Wellemeyer. The problem here is that the free agent starters are not very strong, so MacPhail may take a risk pitcher for low money. The closing problem is much more complicated. Most players considered closers would cost the Orioles a second round pick to the former team of the signee due to compensation rules. So the O’s may sign some relievers and try Jim Johnson again to save the 2nd round pick.
Blog from Dave Vatz 09 Terrapin Graduate