The Baltimore Orioles are either really dumb or really smart. Take your pick. I say that in the tradition of how in international politics they say that one man’s criminal is another man’s freedom fighter. Now I don’t personally believe that because regardless of anything else terrorism is terrorism. But work with me.
The Orioles hold out seemingly every year for value. While other teams make big splashes that are very costly in November and December, the Orioles wait until the waning days of the hot stove season to make their moves. And they aren’t necessarily taking pieces off the scrap heap.
Many would argue that with the likes of Gallardo and Jimenez that’s exactly what they did. But that’s called revisionist history; at the time those deals were signed, they were widely praised. The Orioles got a bargain on both players, according to most experts. And that’s how you have to judge a move like that – in the moment. If you let production in real time taint the deal, it either becomes the greatest deal or the worst deal of all time.
However the same was true of guys like Cruz, Alvarez, and even Davis. The Orioles waited until the market forced the price to come down. And they got themselves a great deal on a great player. Those moves of course are considered great moves given the way the player’s production turned out. But again, that’s the wrong way to judge a move.
Nevertheless, it’s also playing a game of chicken in a sense. You never know when someone else is going to swoop in and grab the player on whom you have your eye. That might have just happened with Cleveland signing Encarnacion. I would agree that $20 million a year for three years is too much for him. Cleveland basically threw caution to the wind and overpaid him.
The question is how much interest did the Orioles actually have in him? I think there was some muted interest, but they weren’t hot on the trail. However what Cleveland did is a player’s dream; just swoop in and make an offer like that which can’t be refused. And again, that’s why you run a risk when you wait for the price to come down on players. If someone says screw it we want this guy at all costs, you’re done before you started.
So the strategy is either brilliant or ridiculously dumb – take your pick. If the Orioles end up with a guy like Trubo returning because the market went down late in the game, they’ll be incredibly lucky and look incredibly smart. But it’s also a game of roulette – and time will tell whether or not their number comes up.