Baltimore Orioles: MLB needs a salary cap, and quick

The Baltimore Orioles could at some point find themselves back in a rut like they were in from 1998-2011. That is if something doesn’t change at some point. MLB needs a salary cap – and fast.

I recognize that it’s not going to happen folks. I’m not naive, I know how things work. However over the course of this week we’ve heard of players like Bryce Harper asking for 10 years, $400 million in their next contract. From the Orioles’ standpoint, that calls into question what the likes of Manny Machado will want in his next deal. Will the O’s be able to give it to him?

For what it’s worth, Washington has already said that Harper won’t get that type of money. And I applaud them for that. However the flip side of the coin is that someone will give it to him – possibly someone in the AL East. And regardless of where Machado is or who’s guarding the hot corner in Baltimore, that could affect the Orioles.

So what MLB needs is a salary cap. If they had a cap like what they have in the NFL, players wouldn’t have the liberty to ask for salaries that outlandish. Because a team wouldn’t be able to sign that guy at that price and remain under the cap. So players would be forced to take perhaps $15 million per year as opposed to $40 million. (How tough of pill to swallow would that be?!

As it stands now without a cap, it all but ensures that only 3-4 teams can realistically have a shot at signing a player like Machado. (Note that I said realistically – there are exceptions to everything.) Does MLB not realize that effectively means that only 3-4 teams might have a legitimate shot at winning it all? Are they okay with that?

Ironically, Washington’s probably one of the teams that could afford to pay a player that much. However as I said above, they said they wouldn’t be doing it. And that’s smart. First off, players try to use a poker face during these negotiations – why not do the same? However players need to realize that there’s only so much money that teams an give you.

I suspect that at the end of the day neither Machado nor Harper will get contracts of that magnitude. The Birds certainly don’t want to be stuck in a contract deal for ten years either. But again, if you have a salary cap, none of this is truly an issue.

Baltimore Orioles: What’s Manny Machado worth to you?

The Baltimore Orioles weren’t a part of one of the bigger stories in the first day of the Wineter Meetings yesterday. But they can be made a part of it. Washington annouced that it wasn’t willing to pay the cash that Bryce Harper is demanding after 2018. Harper is said to want somewhere in the neighborhood of $40 over ten years.

It’s rare for something like this to be said two years before the guy hits free agency, however it got me to thinking what the Orioles would do with Manny Machado. Are they a better team with Manny at the hot corner? I think everyone knows the answer to that. But would Orioles fans be okay with that salary number and length of contract?

The smart ones would not – be satisfied with that number, that is. Everyone knows how special Machado is – that goes without saying. However everything has a price. There are those out there who feel that if the Orioles choose not to re-sign Machado no matter what the price is, shame on them. But again, should the Orioles blow everyone on one player?

Keep in mind that this is merely the price that Harper is asking. There’s no gaurantee he’ll get that. Furthermore if he does, that’s not to say Machado will as well. As is the case in all things, you have to do a cost-analysis. Is Manny Machado worth a lot of money and should he get a large contract when the time comes? Yes. Is he priceless? Probably not.

Baltimore Orioles showing interest in Mark Trumbo?

In one of the first pieces of news at the Winter Meetings, GM Dan Duquette told reporters yesterday that the Baltimore Orioles have been in talks with Mark Trumbo. In fact, the Birds have made him two competitive offers since the end of the season. That’s something that should be big for fans; the Birds aren’t immediately cutting their losses on Trumbo. They’re tying to keep him.

While Duquette didn’t get into specifics, he made it clear that the Orioles were engaged wtih Trumbo and that they’re love to have him back (quote courtesy of Roch Kubatko, MASNsports):

We’ve had several conversations with Mark Trumbo, but we haven’t been able to cinch a deal with him. In the past, we’ve made a couple offers to him. We’ve had a dialogue going with him for several weeks.

Again, that’s something that should give Orioles fans some hope. None of this of course means that Trumbo will stay in Baltimore, mind you. In fact, I would submit that that odds are still greater that he leaves than they are that he stays. But the O’s aren’t takin this lying down, they’re trying to continually find a solution for their 2017 team.

There were also rumors yesterday to the effect that the Orioles had re-signed third baseman Manny Machado, which were immediately dispelled. Duquette even said that the Birds weren’t in active negotiations with Machado at the moment, which sent shock waves around the twitterverse. The Birds aren’t actively trying to re-sign Machado – right now. Calm yourselves, people. That doesn’t mean that in the future they won’t try t re-sign him!

Going back to Trumbo for a moment, apparently Colorado has emerged as a team that’s also showing interest in him. The knock on Trumbo is that his production this past year with the O’s could have been an anamoly, and of course that as he ages more and more it will go down. Going to a place like Colorado could safegaurd against that, as we know the ball really flies there.

The Orioles of course have the fact that they’ll get a draft pick from whomever signs him going for them. But here’s a spin on that which could hurt – what if he signs late in the game and the team has already signed someone for whom they’ve given up a draft pick? When the O’s signed Jimenez they had already given up their first round pick, so they only surrendered a second rounder…

…if a similar thing happened here, the Birds might not get the first rounder they’re expecting. But at the end of the day, fans should know that the Orioles are in the mix on Trumbo – for now.

Baltimore Orioles: What to expect from the Winter Meetings?

What should fans expect out of the Baltimore Orioles at this coming week’s Winter Meetings? I’m going to say not much; aside from the normal Rule 5 pick, at least. But I’m not expecting the Birds to make the short trip home from DC (or Oxon Hill, MD to be techincal) with any big ticket items. That’s just my view at least.

Mark Trumbo is probably the biggest prize out there, and I’m not sure how realistic it would be to expect him to sign in Baltimore again. Last year of course the buzz was all about Chris Davis, and in fact we said the same thing – how realistic is it really that he’ll re-sign with the O’s? Now of course we know that while he certainly didn’t sign during the Winter Meetings, he did end up back in Baltimore. This of course after a curtain call in front of the Camden Faithful on the final day of the 2015 season!

Nevertheless, I’d honestly be surprised if Trumbo signed anywhere this week. I suspec that a lot of teams and even agents will use this week to either begin or come close to closing deals. Seeing that things got down to the wire with collective bargaining this past week, that took the attention of quite a few people away from free agency.

But I would also remind fans that it’s not just free agency that comes up during the Winter Meetings. Trades sometimes go down as well. And it makes sense given that the entire baseball world converges on that one place for the entire week. The Orioles are in the hunt for a corner outfielder/DH, potentially to replace the aforementioned Trumbo. Might they take that route instead?

Again, I’m not expecting anything more than a Rule 5 pick to go down this week. I might be wrong, but that’s just my hunch. The Orioles are rarely active during this time period. For sure they’re out there wheeling and dealing, however Dan Duquette’s “hot stove” season really doesn’t start until February – and it often stretches into March. And that includes once Grapefruit League play has begun.

But this is always an interesting week around baseball to say the least. It gives people like me something about which to write in the sense that there’s often news or waves coming out of the meetings. Needless to say, it sure beats most other weeks during the off season!

Baltimore Orioles non-tender Vance Worley

If you had Vance Worley as being a part of the 2017 Baltimore Orioles, YOU LOST! Worley was officially non-tendered by the club yesterday, meaning he won’t be an Oriole in 2017. Well, I suppose there’s a chance he could be on the team, but not anywhere remotely near likely.

Worley at times played a big role on the Birds in 2016, and at times looked good. However he always seemed to have the potential to blow up in the Orioles’ faces as well, which is potentially why he was non-tendered. Worley is now a free agent in a sense.

Wednesdays acquisition of Logan Verrett from the Mets seemed to seal Worley’s fate, as the Orioles feel that they can now get younger and better in a bullpen that was already potentially the best in the league. Whether the Orioles are done adding to the bullpen however is another story.

As we progress into the Winter Meetings next week, what they are trying to do is add a corner outfielder/DH. There are a few players on Dan Duquette’s radar, however it remains to be seen whether or not any of them are brought back to Baltimore this year after the Winter Meetings.

Aside from Worley, every other arbitration-elibible player was tendered a contract by the Orioles. Their goal is to not have to go to arbitration with anyone next spring, which certainly makes things a lot easier. However with that said, it should probably be the players saying that, because as we know the O’s don’t lose arbitration cases!

Baltiore Orioles: Anyone need a General Manager?!

It was two years ago on the eve of the Winter Meetings that the world found out Toronto wanted the Baltimore Orioles’ Dan Duquette. And when I say the eve of the Winter Meetings, I literally mean “the eve.” As in, the news broke while most of th executives were flying to the meetings on Sunday.

We all remember that unfortunate exchange, and the venom that it spewed. The two Birds’ camps weren’t exactly friendly on the field before, but that didn’t help. The Orioles dug their heels in, making them look like the bad guys for not letting Duquette go. Yet most people seemed to look the other direction when it came to Toronto and how they seemed to violate every unwritten code in the book in terms of talking to someone else’s employee.

And the way that they got away with it of course was that in theory the position for which they wanted Duquette was technically a promotion. As opposed to a VP of Baseball Ops, he would be a President of Operations. However the fact is that Toronto simply structures their front office differently than do the Orioles. In effect, it was the same or a similar job.

But that was two years ago – I don’t anticipate anything like that happening this weekend. But you never know…! And if it did, the Birds would probably react the same way.

Baltimore Orioles: Lockout averted, Logan Verrett returns

The Baltimore Orioles have re-acquired a former Rule 5 pick in Logan Verrett. They traded cash considerations to the NY Mets for their former Rule 5 draft choice, and he now slides into either the starting rotation or bullpen. I would presume that latter.

The Birds selected Verrett during the 2014 Winter Meetings, however he was exposed to waivers during spring training, and claimed by Texas. He was later returned to New York, and is now back with the Orioles. He registered a 1.88 ERA that spring with the O’s, accumulating 12 K’s and zero walks.

Verrett fell on some hard times as part of the Mets’ minor league system this past year, with a 5.20 ERA at triple-A. However the Orioles are glad to have him back in the organization, and even more so that they didn’t have to give up anything to get him. We’ll see where he lands come Opening Day.

However the real news today is that MLB and the MLBPA reached a deal on collective bargaining, which preserved the labor peace in baseball. While it went down to the wire, a lockout has been averted. That also means that next week’s winter meetings will go on as scheduled.

There are a few parts of the new labor deal that will be of interest to fans, however the main part is that a work stoppage has been avoided. With the season beginning four days earlier than previously, the schedule will now have some additional days off built in. There are also going to be provisions that will force teams to play more day games on getaway days.

So basically you can look for more starts during the 12 or 1 PM hour on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Speaking for myself, I think that’s a good thing. As I’ve said before, the Orioles are one of the teams who rarely seem to do that. First off while perhaps it does provide a hassle for fans in that they might have to take a day off, it’s a nice change of pace. But it also makes things easier for teas across the board, as one or both teams will be in transient on a getaway day.

But the main story is that a deal has been done, and a crisis averted in Major League Baseball. Whereas the other three major sports have had work stoppages since the 1994 MLB players’ strike, baseball has not. And it’s going to stay that way.

Baltimore Orioles: Should the Birds go after Dexter Fowler?

Everyone remembers what happened last season between the Baltimore Orioles and outfielder Dexter Fowler. The undestanding was that the two sides had an agreement, and Fowler allegedly even told various Oriole players that he was on the way to Sarasota for spring training. Yet at some point that changed, and before anyone knew it Fowler had signed a one-year deal to remain with the Chicago Cubs.

Somehow in all of that, the Orioles were painted as the bad guys in that they were presumptuous enough to believe that Fowler was theirs before he actually was. Nevertheless, history will probably say that Fowler did the right thing of course, given that CHicago won the World Series. Incidentally, the SNAFU was never explained on Fowler’s part – all anyone has ever known is that somehow the Orioles were actually the party that made a mistake.

Interestingly enough, Chicago signed free agent outfielder Jon Jay yesterday to a one-year deal. That effectively puts Fowle, who’s once again a free agent, on notice that his days in Chicago are over. Incidentally I do find it interesting that after winning the World Series for the first time since 1908, Chicago opted for a cheaper alternative than keeping what they already had.

Nevertheless, should the Birds renew their interest in Fowler? I say yes. Granted he made them look foolish last spring and somehow spun that as their fault, however if you want to take  step from being a good team to a great one, sometimes you have to bite the bullet. The O’s also need a leadoff hitter, and Fowler is a bona fide leadoff man.

I suppose the one hangup might possibly be that the Orioles would slide Fowler into right field, which has basically been platooned since the departure of Nick Markakis. Fowler sees himself as a centerfielder – and he’s a good centerfielder at that. However he’s not going to unseat Adam Jones, who’s both a gold glove centerfielder and a fan favorite.

However is that partly why Fowler flew the coup before even getting here last season? There were a lot of rumors as to that, so it’s possible that the Orioles might have to fight harder to get him. However there’s another reason why they need t land Fowler this off season: Toronto wants him as well. If there’s one thing the Orioles can’t allow, it’s for a player of his caliber to land in the AL East.

Undoubtedly, there will be plenty of other teams who are interested in Fowler besides the Orioles and Toronto. Fowler would slide right into the top of the Orioles’ order very well, giving them a good punch from the beginning of the lineup. Whether they can come to an agreement is another story that remains to be seen.

Baltimore Orioles: Would a lockout cancel the Winter Meetings?

Major League Baseball could in theory lock out members of the Baltimore Orioles and other teams on Thursday if they don’t reach a new collective bargaining agreement. So let’s say that a lockout occurs…would next week’s Winter Meetings be canceled as a result? Anything is possible I presume…

…however I doubt it. The Winter Meetings are scheduled well in advance, and a lot of planning goes into them. This year they’re being held right here in Maryland at the National Harbor resort outside of DC. It’s been in the works for a long time.

Nevertheless, the Winter Meetings will go on as scheduled. However if a lockout occurs on Thursday, that would put a hold on free agency. And as we all know, that’s a huge part of the Winter Meetings every year. Agents and even players are all lingering around and talking to owners and GM’s. There are always a few “big ticket items” that go off the shelves at the Winter Meetings in terms of free agents landing with new teams.

So if the players are locked out, that aspect of the annual gathering won’t be present, which means that very little news will trickle out of the gathering. There will still be the annual Rule 5 draft, in which one would expect the Orioles to be active as usual. And the executives will still discuss the business of the sport, among other things. Just no free agency.

Incidentally, there’s a third option aside from a new CBA or a lockout. The sides could also vote to extend the current CBA just a bit. That would signal to fans that a deal is close, they just can’t reach it by Thursday. It would be similar to what the United States Congress calls a “Continuing Reslution” – or CR. When they can’t reach a budget deal by September 30th (which is the end of the fiscal year) they’ll often pass a CR to extend the previous budget by a period of time.

This gives them more time to negotiate and so forth, however in reality all it truly does is kick the can down the road. But it keeps the Federal Government open as opposed to having it close and furloughing thousands of government employees. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the route down which MLB executives and the player’s association go later this week. Either way, a lockout doesn’t serve anyone in the long run.

Baltimore Orioles: Caleb Joseph behind the dish full-time?

Is Caleb Joseph the anointed starting catcher for the Baltimore Orioles in 2017 and beyond? First off, to answer that question we’re assuming that Matt Wieters has no future in Baltimore. My personal opinion is that he won’t be back, which yes creates a vacancy behind the dish. But that’s not something that we obviously know for sure as of yet.

I suspect that the market for Wieters will start being set at next month’s fast-approaching Winter Meetings. But back to Joseph – are the Orioles prepared to go with him as their starting catcher assuming that Wieters walks? That would be the conventional wisdom I suppose, because he’s been more than a reliable backup to Wieters to this point. In 2015 he started for much of the first half of the season while Wieters was still injured…

…and the results were fairly good. While he only hit .234, he played a big role when he needed to do so. Last season of course he only hit at a .174 clip and couldn’t even deliver an RBI. However the fact is that you aren’t going to expect too much out of your catcher at the plate. If he can get a base hit here and there, maybe a home run, and perhaps move guys over on the base paths, you’re going to be happy.

Joseph does have a prowess behind the plate, and while he’s not Wieters he would probably have been starting last year on quite a few teams. However the question is whether or not he’s the heir-apparent if Wieters walks. Again, I say yes.

And not just for the fact that he is in fact a solid catcher. But who else is out there for the Orioles? The Birds have expressed interest in bringing back former catcher Nick Hundley, and there are several other decent catchers on the market this year as well. However the question is whether or not any of them are comparable with Joseph. And my personal opinion is that they are not.

To me it would serve no purpose to bring someone else in only to keep Joseph as a backup. He’s well liked in the clubhouse, and even if he doesn’t always get on base he does contribute. However we also know that often times teams will make guys compete for the starting job, and that might be where the Orioles go with Joseph. But at the end of the day, I think he starts behind the plate on Opening Day.

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