• Dec

    O's in the Free Agency Market

    O’s in the Free Agency Market


    The general consensus among the Hangout’s board members is this off-season has not gone well. It’s hard to really argue with an off-season that has so far not brought in one impact player via free agency or trade despite the fact the Orioles were suppose to have all that MASN cash to work with.


    Grant it, the free agency market has gone out of control with Alfonso Soriano getting 8yr/$136 million from the Cubs, Carlos Lee getting a 6yr/$100 million from the Astros, and Mr. Fragile, JD Drew getting 5yr/$70 million from the Red Sox. This after the Red Sox paid a reported $51 just to have the right to negotiate a contract with Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Add in Gary Matthews getting a $5yr/$50 million deal from the Angels and back of the rotation pitchers Gil Meche (5yr/$55mil) and Ted Lilly (4yr/$40mil) getting insane deals from the Royals and Cubs respectively, and it doesn’t take much to realize this is a crazy market.


    However, it is the market, and the Orioles are in no position to play the “We made a good offer” game. It’s time for results. The Sun is reporting the Orioles offered Jason Schmidt $47 million after he already received a $46 million offer for the Dodgers. Some people believe that shows the Orioles were serious and it was a strong offer. But was it strong?


    It's well known that Schmidt wanted to play on the West Coast. He got a $47 million contract offer to play in Los Angeles, with a team that just contended, and plays in a pitcher's park. We offer one more million to entice him to leave all that in order to uproot his family to the east coast, play for a team that hasn't had a winning record in nine seasons, plays in the same division with two teams with $150 million plus payrolls, and pitch in a park which has notoriously increases home run production?

    I'm guessing that wasn't a real hard decision for Schmidt.


    With Schmidt gone, there are no real difference makers left on the free agency market (yes, I know Zito is still available, but I have more of a chance of pitching at Camden Yards for the Orioles then him coming to Baltimore), just stop gaps, so the O’s should be looking hard at the trade market. But if the O’s end up needing to fill holes with the remaining players, there are a few players that I believe the Orioles should still take a look at.


    First guy on that list should be Aubrey Huff. Huff is not a superstar, but he did put up a .813 OPS last year between Tampa Bay and Houston last year. He probably needs to be platooned at first base against tough lefties in order to maximize his usefulness, so Millar may be a good choice here. At 30-years old, Huff is in the middle of his prime with the potential to improve, so out of the choices left, Huff is the best choice to fill a hole at first base if trades don’t materialize.


    So what about the hole in LF? Well, the free agency market really has nothing left that should excite anyone. Jay Payton? Well, if you like a 34-year old who will put up a .750 OPS with average defense in left, then he’s your guy. If Payton is acquired as a fourth/fifth outfielder to fill in for Patterson against lefties (.783 OPS vs lefties last three years) or if he’s going to be platooned with a left-handed hitting left fielder, then he may be a decent sign, but anything more and he’s going to be a liability.


    A better choice for that job might be Preston Wilson. Wilson has put up a .862 OPS against lefties the last three years and although he’s no Cory Patterson in the outfield, but he’s got enough foot speed to make up for the occasional bad jump and route in either left or even center in small doses.


    Not a lot to get excited about, but the players to get excited about are gone from the free agency market.


    With pitching to trade, highlighted by Rodrigo Lopez and Hayden Penn, the Orioles should look to improve themselves through trade in the next week or so. However, they have to watch out for getting left with the leftovers if they don’t act soon.

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Tony Pente

Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.