While the Orioles didn’t make the playoffs this year, the Orioles still had a good (but not great) season. There were several key weaknesses that turned this potentially great season into just a good one:
1. Almost nobody in the lineup was patient at the plate, let alone knew how to take walks. This led to the Orioles having to rely on extra base hits way too much.
2. Starting rotation wasn’t consistent. Early in the year, they constantly struggled to go even 6 innings. This led to an over-worked bullpen.
3. Their bench’s lack of versatility led to certain players getting extremely fatigued and overworked.
The Orioles payroll this year was $92,238,333. Here’s an abbreviated list of who will be coming off the books after this season:
Nate McLouth ($2,000,000)
Alexi Casilla ($1,700,000 but will have a $200K buyout)
Jason Hammel ($6,750,000)
Brian Roberts ($10,000,000)
In total, assuming nobody re-signs, that will leave the Orioles with a $45,400,000 payroll in 2014 I used this link for my contract/payroll numbers: https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=t50_b9iaARDxOK6TPjab3gQ&output=html Note that this does not include arbitration-eligible players, who would be:
It’s extremely hard to predict what Chris Davis will get. He’s making $3,300,000 this year, but he’s obviously had an MVP-caliber season and that’s going to give him and his agent Scott Boras a ton of leverage. I think he’ll get around $10,000,000. Matt Wieters, who is also a client of Scott Boras, is making $5,500,000 this season. He stands to get a pay increase. How much of an increase depends on if he wins another Gold Glove. I think he’ll get around $7,000,000-$8,000,000 next season. Bud Norris, a client of Joel Wolfe, is making $3,000,000 this season. I think he’ll get around $4,500,000. Jim Johnson, a client of Moye Sports, is a curious case. Like it or not, he is once again among the league leaders in saves, and that’s what gets you paid. He’s making $6,500,000 this season and I estimate he’ll get about $8,000,000-$9,000,000. The Orioles should consider non-tendering him and either getting him back for something closer to this year’s salary or find a new (and less expensive) closer. Tommy Hunter, who like Johnson is a client of Moye Sports, is making $1,820,000 this year. He’s been very good out of the bullpen for the Orioles. I think he’ll get around $2,500,000-$3,000,000. Brian Matusz, a client of Excel Sports, is making $1,600,000 this season. I estimate he’ll get around $2,000,000 next year. He’s a non-tender candidate, but I think the Orioles will keep him. Nolan Reimold is an obvious non-tender candidate. I can’t really see the Orioles keeping him on the MLB roster at this point. They might be able to bring him back on a minor-league deal, but his time in Baltimore is probably over. Troy Patton, a client of Select Sports, is making $815,000 this season. I estimate he’ll get about $1,000,000-$1,250,000 next year. Steve Pearce will probably get about $800,000 next season if he’s not non-tendered (which I imagine he will be). I think the Orioles will non-tender Chris Dickerson. Danny Valencia will probably get about $700,000 next season. Add it all up, and the payroll would sit at $83,600,000. The luxury tax threshold is $189,000,000, so the Orioles could in theory increase next year’s payroll by $105,399,999 and not be punished. In my opinion, the Orioles could probably increase their payroll to the $120,000,000 mark and be fine. Anything more might be pushing it. This would leave the Orioles with $36,400,000 of spending money. I’ll be using the $120,000,000 mark when considering targets for the Orioles.
They will probably spend money to upgrade in the following areas:
Orioles fans might like to see the Orioles pursue options at second base (*cough cough* ROBINSON CANO *cough cough*), but they have Jonathan Schoop who is both young and cheap. He’s also pretty good (one game sample sizes FTW!!!!!) Guys like Schoop are very important, particularly to mid-market teams like the Orioles, because they are very affordable for at least 3 seasons, usually more. I’d be perfectly content with Schoop as the everyday second baseman in 2014. If worst comes to worst, the Orioles have Ryan Flaherty. So while Robinson Cano is an amazing player and would certainly be a giant upgrade at second base, it would also be very unwise for the Orioles to sign him considering they have more pressing needs.
Next week, I will list some potentially attractive targets for the Orioles, both in free agency and in trades.