Manny Machado homered three times last night, including a game winning Grand Slam in the bottom of 9th to pull the Baltimore Orioles back within two game of .500 and two games of the second American League Wild Card.
Machado continuing to be part of the roster, and the O’s playing for 2017 and 2018 with the team largely as is; was the path selected by O’s Leadership at the Non-Waiver Deadline.
At this point, the 2018 Orioles roster seems mostly clear. The primary question is who will be comprising the remainder of the rotation behind Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Bundy?
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Let’s go around the diamond, discussing what we think know at this time.
3rd Machado – If the O’s were inclined to trade Manny, you would have thought it would have occurred this past off-season, when he had two full years of team-control remaining on his contract. Or at the ’17 Non-Waiver Deadline when he had a year and a half left. He’s still here. One reasonable expectation at this point is that he’s not going to sign an extension this Winter a year away from being able to hit the Market; but a deal is at-least plausible. A second reasonable expectation at this point is that the O’s are going to bring him back at-least to begin the 2018 season.
SS Beckham – The former 1st overall Draft selection has been on-fire since joining the Orioles. Obviously no one should anticipate him continuing to play at this level. What you can expect is that he’s going to be the SS next year. He’s got pop, athleticism, and by the metrics (a slightly positive UZR/150, a slightly negative DRS) – he is holding up defensively.
2nd Schoop – Jonathan might eventually be moved off of 2nd, but it won’t happen in ’18. The All-Star has two remaining years under O’s team control. It would seem like this Winter would be a logical time to look at an extension, but who knows with the Orioles? Maybe they will decide to punt on extension discussions with anyone until it becomes clear if Duquette or Showalter, (both, either, neither) are going to be part of the organization past next season.
1st Davis – Clearly Crush has underachieved this year. His OPS, wOBA, and ISO are all below career averages. His K% above his career marks. The lack of production early in his contract does not bode well for the rest of his deal; but that is a discussion for another day. He enters tonight with a .743 OPS. If he finishes hot, he can finish around his career mark of .822. (A strong finish from Davis would only boost the O’s WC chances during the remainder of this year.) When the ’18 season begins, there will be some question as to what you are going to get. We’re only two years removed from his ’15 season where he had 47 bombs, a .923 OPS, and a .390 wOBA. That came after an off 2014. It’s completely possible that next year could be another herculean year. It’s also completely possible that ’18 will be more of the same of what we saw in ’16 and so far this year. What’s clear, is that he’s the starting 1st baseman to begin ’18.
DH Trumbo – 2016 was a career year for Mark, and that was parlayed into a three year extension. Signed through ’19, the current expectation has to be that he’s back to begin ’18. He’s a quality 1st baseman, but isn’t going to play that position with the O’s. He’s a below average RF. He’ll start at DH to begin ’18, and you hope he gets hot and starts finding the LF seats with regularity again next year. If he were to get hot early next year, it would be interesting to see if the O’s would attempt to move him.
C Joseph / Sisco – Wellington ‘Beef’ Castillo has a player option for next year, that he doesn’t figure to pick up. Joseph has had a strong year in a near platoon with Castillo. Sisco is one of the Orioles best prospects. Joseph is under contract through 2020. He has a chance to settle into a long-term fixture with the roster, that gets more time than a normal reserve catcher. Joseph has done so well this year, it’s possible the O’s will give him the chance to start next year, and send Sisco back to AAA for additional seasoning. My guess right now is that they split time.
LF Mancini – I thought Trey would be a useful, productive part of the roster. He’s far exceeded my expectations overall. He finished 2016 with a .775 OPS at AAA Norfolk over 483 ab’s. This year in the Majors he has a .849 OPS in his first 383 ab’s. He’s taken the opportunity provided to him, and he’s produced. What more can you ask? You have to love the approach he’s shown. One thing to note is that while he’s murdered RHP, he has a sub .700 OPS (in 126 ab’s) vs. LHP.
CF Jones – The Orioles CF turned 32 August 1st. He’s been wearing the O’s uniform since 2008. During the five year period of 2011 to 2015; Jones posted an OPS between .780 and .839 each year. In ’12 – ’15, he had an fWAR of at-least 3.6 each year. Last year the OPS dropped to .746, and the fWAR was 1.4. This year the OPS is currently at .776, and his fWAR is 0.9.
The defensive metrics with Jones have always been interesting. By UZR / 150 and DRS, he scored below average each year from ’09 to ’13. That was followed-up by two good years in ’14, and ’15. His numbers dipped back last year, and are abysmal here in ’17.
Jones is a FA after ’18. I’m not totally opposed to him receiving a 2-3 year extension, but part of the discussion there will have to include him possibly moving off of Center. It should be pretty clear though, that Jones will be back in CF to begin ’18.
RF Hays – Given what Hays has accomplished this year in the Minors, and the fact that he carries the reputation of being strong with the glove; I think you have to give Austin every opportunity to win the RF job next Spring. He tore up the Carolina League with Frederick and earned his promotion to AA Bowie. With the Baysox, his numbers over his initial 200 ab’s in the Eastern League are even better than what he was doing with the Keys. His season is by far the most exciting development in the O’s Minor Leagues this year.
Sisco / Joseph – Discussed above.
Santander – Major League debut was yesterday. Has to be on the roster for the at-least the first 45 days of next year. Showalter will find him time. He’s talented enough, that even once the O’s have the ability to option him; he might stay.
Rickard – Joey was just sent back to the Minors because he had a usable option, and it allowed the O’s to keep Gentry. Not that Gentry is special, but he’s also usable. The defensive metrics love what Rickard has done this year with the glove. He’s useful as a 4th OF. With Santander having to be on the roster to begin ’18, and Rickard having options; it’s possible this spot could belong to someone else.
Flaherty – While he’s currently scheduled to be a FA after this ’17 season, it would be pretty surprising to me if he’s not back for ’18. The O’s – and particularly Buck – appreciates his versatility and mentions it often.
Britton – Similar argument to Machado. You didn’t trade him. You kept him to continue to pursue contention here in ’17. Given that decision, it’s reasonable to expect he’s also going to be back to start ’18.
Brach – Could copy and past the Britton comments here.
Givens – Under team control through ’21, he could potentially be the O’s future closer.
O’Day – Signed through ’19. He will be back.
Castro – Another nice find this year. He’s also under control through ’21, and has the arm talent to be part of the roster for several years. Giving him a chance to make the rotation is not a horrible idea given his natural ability, but I’d rather see him stay in the pen.
Bleier – He’s had a successful year, and will have the inside track of maintaining that job going into ’18. The negative with him, is that he has not been more effective vs. lefties. The idea I’ve seen floated of making him a starter depresses me.
Scott – 23 year old Tanner has overwhelmed the Eastern League. In his 61 ip with Bowie, he’s allowed just 38 hits, and has 76 k’s. Of course he also has given up 42 walks. This 7th spot in the bullpen could be any number of guys. The argument for Scott is his talent, and the opportunity to graduate him to the Majors in lower-leverage situations. The argument against him, would be giving him more time in the Minors to improve that control.
Alas we get to the starters, and that is where the questions really begin.
Gasuman & Bundy – We will deeper dive both in subsequent articles. Right now it’s sufficient to state the obvious. They are young. They are under team control. They are talented. They will be parts of the O’s ’18 rotation.
Who is going to join them?
I’m pretty confident that one of the three available spots is going to be earmarked for Chris Tillman. I anticipate Tillman and the O’s agreeing to a 1 year $7-$10M deal. A chance for Tillman get past this lost 2017 season, and position himself to make strong FA money after next year (if he gets back to the seasons he averaged during ’12-’16, where he consistently showed to be a viable mid-rotation starter).
Even if Tillman does return, that still leaves the need for two starters.
If you’ve brought back Machado and Britton – with the goal of contending / winning in ’18 – isn’t the logical next step augmenting this roster with the best starting pitching you can obtain?
The Orioles have never wanted to spend at the top of the Free Agent Market for SP. Given that they haven’t consistently developed more pitching internally; that has led them to targeting veterans like Jimenez, Gallardo, Miley, etc with the hopes those guys had something left to give.
With history as a guide, we could (and probably should) expect more of the same this off-season.
There are a number of names which you could see the O’s talk themselves into. The recently obtained Jeremy Hellickson fits this mold. Alex Cobb, and Lance Lynn on the high end of these mid-tier options. Michael Pineda. Tyson Ross. Matt Moore. Reuniting with Miguel Gonzalez. Marco Estrada. Jamie Garcia.
One of those guys, or someone like them could easily be in an O’s uniform next year.
I’m basing this off the idea that I believe Miley has a $12M club option, with a $500k buyout for next year and that I don’t expect the O’s to pick that up.
I’d suggest that the O’s choose between Miley and Tillman. Either pick up Miley’s option, and overpay him to be the 5th starter because he’s pitching now and you basically know what you have (Devil you know..), or let him go and sign Tillman because you have good confidence in his ability to rebound.
Either way, in my scenario you’d only have one of them for ’18, and would be looking at either as your 5th starter, and still have the need to upgrade and fill the other two spots in the rotation.
I’d love to see the O’s go target Yu Darvish, but that has no basis in reality.
The front-end starter I can talk myself into believing the O’s could at-least consider getting involved with is former Oriole Jake Arrieta. For many that will seem as pie-in-the-sky as Darvish, but I think it’s possible for these reasons:
– If you are bringing the band back for ’18, contention is the goal.
– The limitations of the rotation have long been clear.
– Arrieta’s familiarity with Baltimore.
– Showalter was / is a fan.
– Arreita will be 32 to begin ’18, and he’s been good (but not elite) the last 18 months. Meaning he’s going to get ‘paid’, but might not break the bank at quite the levels he would have had he hit FA after his Cy Young season in ’15.
– Jimenez’s $13.5M 2017 salary comes off the books, giving the O’s some $ to play with.
That all said, I can’t fully talk myself into believing the O’s are going to be the ones to give him the 5 year $125M+ deal he probably gets.
So, how do you see the O’s filling out their rotation?
Where do you agree or disagree with my assessment with the roster above?
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.