Welcome to another edition of the Orioles Beat newsletter, which will continue to land in your inbox regularly throughout the winter. Follow along to stay up to date with all of the O’s latest offseason happenings.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have made it known that they’re targeting pitching help this offseason. They plan on adding a starter, ideally one who can occupy a top-three rotation spot, and a back-end reliever, preferably one with closing experience who can help offset the loss of Félix Bautista (out for 2024 following Tommy John surgery).
Here’s the pressing question, though: How will Baltimore acquire these types of pitchers?
That will be the hot topic surrounding the Orioles at this year’s Winter Meetings, which begin on Sunday in Nashville, Tenn. The event serves as an opportune time for Baltimore and Major League Baseball’s 29 other clubs to lay the groundwork for offseason moves as executives, agents and other personnel converge at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center for four days.
Since the Orioles hired Mike Elias as general manager in November 2018, the club hasn't been a major player during the Hot Stove season. They haven’t signed a single free agent to a multiyear contract, nor have they swung any blockbuster offseason trades.
The O’s also haven’t been big spenders. During Elias’ tenure, only Kyle Gibson, signed before last year’s Winter Meetings, has had a salary of at least $10 million.
Times have changed in Baltimore, though. The rebuild is over. The Orioles are coming off a 101-win season in which they won the American League East and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2016. With the window open, it’s possible they could now be more aggressive with their offseason moves.
“We’re now in a mode where we’re adding Major League players rather than subtracting them, so I continue to see all this growing,” Elias said at the GM Meetings in early November. “When it happens and how much is not something I’m going to box myself into. But I think we’re going to just see continual growth from the Orioles, and that’s going to include the Major League payroll.”
Perhaps Baltimore could sign a pitcher to a sizable multiyear deal this offseason. The starting pitching market has slowly started to take shape in recent weeks. The Cardinals signed a trio of veteran right-handers -- Gibson (one year, $12 million), Sonny Gray (three years, $75 million) and Lance Lynn (one year, $10 million) while -- the Tigers recently inked righty Kenta Maeda to a two-year, $24 million deal.
It seems unlikely that the Orioles would commit to the type of contract that the Cardinals gave to Gray, who will average $25 million per year, with a $30 million club option for 2027. So Baltimore could get outbid if it pursues the likes of Josh Hader, Jordan Montgomery, Blake Snell, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and other top free-agent pitchers. The O’s also probably won’t hand out anything close to the seven-year, $172 million megadeal that right-hander Aaron Nola received from the Phillies, either.
If Baltimore is active in the free-agent pitching market, it is more likely to sign a starter below the top tier and a veteran closer on a one-year deal. Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito, Michael Lorenzen and Marcus Stroman are among the available starters, while Craig Kimbrel, Hector Neris and David Robertson could be possible closer targets.
While the Orioles may not win any free-agent bidding wars, they could assemble an enticing trade package by leveraging the position-player talent in their stacked farm system. Completing a deal with another team could be their most likely avenue to acquiring a solid starter this offseason.
The Rays’ Tyler Glasnow, the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes and the Guardians’ Shane Bieber have been featured in trade rumors, but each will be a free agent at the end of 2024. White Sox righty Dylan Cease could be a better fit for the O’s, as he is under team control through ‘25.
When Elias and the rest of the Orioles’ front office leave Nashville next week, they may still not have any new pitchers on their roster. However, the Winter Meetings will allow them to meet with agents and engage in trade talks with other clubs, moving them closer to completing their primary offseason objectives.
In 2023, Kyle Bradish had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.82, which ranks sixth in franchise history. Which pitcher holds the Orioles’ single-season record?
A. Erik Bedard
B. Wei-Yin Chen
C. Kevin Gausman
D. Mike Mussina
2024 HOME GAME TIMES ANNOUNCED
The Orioles have announced the start times for their 2024 home games, and there are several notable changes.
All weeknight games on Monday through Thursday will begin at 6:35 p.m., the lone exception being a 7:15 p.m. start for an Aug. 22 contest against the Astros. All Saturday games will begin at 4:05 p.m., the exception being a 7:15 p.m. start for a June 29 contest versus the Rangers.
Friday’s start times will remain at 7:05 p.m., while Sunday’s start times will continue to be at 1:35 p.m.
The Opening Day matchup between the Orioles and Angels at Camden Yards on March 28 will start at 3:05 p.m., the first time Baltimore has opened a season at home since 2018.
On Sunday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee will meet in Nashville to consider the candidacies of eight former managers, executives and umpires whose primary contributions to the game have come since 1980.
The eight candidates are Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Ed Montague, Hank Peters, Lou Piniella, Joe West and Bill White. Those who appear on at least 12 of the 16 ballots cast by the committee will earn election to the Hall of Fame. The results will be announced Sunday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. ET on MLB Network’s “MLB Tonight.”
Johnson spent 17 seasons as a big league manager, including two with the Orioles in 1996 and ‘97. In the latter year, he was named AL Manager of the Year as Baltimore led the AL East from wire to wire and finished 98-64. Johnson also played for the Orioles for the first eight seasons of his career, winning two World Series (‘66, ‘70), earning three Gold Glove Awards and making three All-Star appearances.
Peters served as the Orioles’ general manager from 1976-87, leading the franchise to its third World Series championship in ‘83.
D. Mike Mussina
Mussina’s 4.57 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 2000 is the best in a single season in O’s history. He also ranks second (4.27 in 1998) and third (4.04 in ‘97) on the list.
FORWARDED FROM A FRIEND? SUBSCRIBE NOW
To subscribe to Orioles Beat, visit this page, check the "Orioles Beat" list and make sure you're following the Orioles or they're checked as your favorite team.