The Baltimore Orioles have watched some of their competition in the American League East make some pretty significant moves so far this offseason. The Boston Red Sox have retained the players they've needed to, while the New York Yankees have a clearly better roster than they sported in 2013. The Toronto Blue Jays are hovering and named in connection with several notable trade candidates. The Tampa Bay Rays only need to make small tweaks.
And yet, here the Orioles stand. A team that plays extraordinary defense and was a top five team in baseball in putting runs on the board during the 2013 season, and would not appear to be that far off, continues to stand pat. In serious need of pitching, and perhaps an addition to the lineup, Dan Duquette has sat on his hands to this point, as the Winter Meetings get underway in Orlando.
To this point in the offseason, the Orioles have only been noted for the players they've lost. They traded Jim Johnson, which was expected in order to free up some cash, in addition to allowing Scott Feldman and Nate McLouth to walk as free agents. They need replacements for each of them, and then some, in order to get even/above the rest of the division. They did sign Ryan Webb, a solid addition, but there is still work to be done.
That work relates primarily to the starting pitching, where the Orioles have been mentioned as a potential suitor for Jeff Samardzija, in addition to Ubaldo Jimenez. Jimenez is coming off of a very good 2013 season with the Cleveland Indians, but comes with a shaky track record before that. I'm not sure he'd be the best allocation of funds, as the Orioles need to add an arm that brings consistency to the mix, not more question marks.
Then there's the matter of the other two names they're believed to be in the mix for: Shin-Soo Choo and Nelson Cruz. Either one presents an impact bat, but Choo brings much more to the table as far as his skill set is concerned. He's patient at the plate, has some pop, and plays strong defense. He'd fit right in. Cruz is a power bat, but is 33 and not the most sturdy of bodies. Choo would certainly be the right fit between the two, but the price tag for either one is going to be questionable.
In fact, there's a great deal about all of this that is questionable. The Orioles aren't a team that is far off, that much is true. They need pitching and they have a couple of holes in the lineup to fill, but they don't necessarily need to add impact talent. The fact that they're being mentioned in connection to perhaps the biggest names left on the free agent market is intriguing. Does any of this come to fruition? Will the Orioles actually become aggressive in pursuit of improvement this winter? These questions should become answers as the week wears on.