Even though the offseason is far from over for the Baltimore Orioles they haven’t exactly been active in it anyway, so in some fans minds it already is. I understand that sentiment because I actually had an idea, as I do every offseason, as to what the perfect Orioles offseason would look like in my mind. Before I let each of you in on a little secret though, let me actually talk some about what the perfect Orioles offseason would look like to me.
This is a team that were incredibly lucky in the first half, especially having dealt with the injuries and ineffectiveness that plagued them before the All-Star break, but found a way to play some of the best baseball imaginable compared to just about every other team in the sport during the second half. That’s the version of this team that I believe we will be more likely to see in 2013, but it won’t be easy and they’ll still need to do a little adding to make competing for a playoff spot more of a certainty than something as being in doubt.
While I do have a good bit of faith in their starting rotation it still wouldn’t hurt to bring back Joe Saunders, or someone comparable to him. The reason is that the one thing the rotation lacks is a veteran starter to help shepherd the younger guys further along in their development. Dan Haren would have been a quality veteran the team could have added on a one-year deal to show the more inexperienced members of our rotation a few more things about being a starting pitcher in the big leagues.
Saunders is still available though so I’d be just as happy if we brought him back to flesh out the rest of the rotation. That would also further free us up to trade some of our excess arms for that bat the team has been on the lookout for since the offseason began. It was obvious General Manager Dan Duquette wasn’t going to shell out the money for Zack Greinke or Josh Hamilton, and I’m glad he didn’t, but you do still have some money to spend even after what’s been set aside to give your arbitration eligible players raises.
Since there aren’t exactly any difference makers left on the free agent market, not that there were a whole lot to begin with, to plug into the starting rotation the Orioles should really shift their focus on adding a bat. Nick Swisher is gone after signing a surprisingly reasonable contract with the Cleveland Indians and B.J. Upton signed a pretty good contract with the Atlanta Braves. I was never really all that enthralled with either player though, and you would know that if you have listened to me on Bird Talk before both players signed those contracts, but there is one player still available that I believe makes too much sense for the Orioles not to pursue him – Michael Bourn.
Bourn’s initial contract demands of $100+ million dollars over seven years scared off a lot of suitors early on, we must realize he’s a Scott Boras client and that was likely posturing, but a six year and $90 million dollar contract wouldn’t be a horrible deal for the team that signs him to it and I hope it’s the Orioles. Not only would he bring some much needed speed, pure speed at that, and can’t miss base stealing skills to the lineup, he would also provide through-and-through Gold Glove caliber defense to center field. Bourn playing center field for the Orioles would necessitate a move to left field by Adam Jones, but that’s kind of the point. Strengthen two positions at once while also improving the lineup at the top.
So there you have it – my perfect offseason for the Orioles would be them signing a veteran starting pitcher to a one or two-year contract and then signing Bourn to a reasonable six year deal while moving Jones to left. Making those moves would, in my mind, help the Orioles leapfrog the New York Yankees and even the Tampa Bay Rays to the front of the pack in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Oh, and for that little secret I mentioned – even though the offseason has been full of inaction on the part of the Orioles, I’m not worried one bit. There’s still a chance that they could re-sign Saunders and if they don’t they are apparently talking to the Detroit Tigers about Rick Porcello, which would be a solid move in and of itself. As far as a bat is concerned there is always Mike Morse, the Washington Nationals slugger who will find himself very available if/when the Nationals get Adam LaRoche to agree to terms on a new contract.