You would not have to go far to find a Baltimore Orioles fan that would tell you they have yet to receive a gift from the team this Holiday Season in regards to improving the team's chances at returning to the postseason in 2014. What could the final week of 2013 bring and could the Birds just be waiting to start off 2014 on the right foot?
Do not get us wrong, the Orioles have done great work in the community in and around Baltimore, we are not talking about that, we are specifically talking about adding players to their roster that improves the team's shot at a playoff berth.
First we saw guys such as Nate McLouth, Brian Roberts and Jim Johnson leave town, whether through free agency or trade, then we had all had to witness the brutal saga of Grant Balfour.
Ryan Webb and David Lough have been the O's best acquisitions thus far this offseason, and no disrespect to those guys, but they are merely complimentary players at this point and not a big type of name that instantly makes this team division contenders.
Baltimore has been linked to the last big name left on the free agent closer market, Fernando Rodney, but one now has to wonder what his price tag will be since he is the last big name remaining. Of course a team that is in desperate need of a closer could still go after Balfour, whom several doctors report is just as healthy as he was three or even six years ago, but the Orioles fiasco is thought to have damaged his value.
Some fans are dreaming big that the Orioles will attempt to sign Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but several Baltimore beat writers, and our sources have all said the same thing, the Orioles are not getting into the bidding war. Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette even mentioned it as the MLB Winter Meetings that Baltimore was not going to get in that market, so unfortunately O's fans, we are not going to find Tanaka under the Christmas tree.
So what will they do? There are still some pretty decent free agents out there, both on the offensive side and pitching side. Although he would cost a draft pick, Kendrys Morales is our top offensive free agent remaining that Baltimore could legitimately make a run at, but he would be pretty expensive. The longer he is on the market however, the cheaper or at least the shorter the contract length may be, which would highly benefit the Orioles.
There are some good arms out there still including Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Ervin Santana, but none of those guys are really expected to sign until after the Tanaka sweepstakes have completed. The time to strike on these guys would be while other teams are vying for the Japanese right hander, but convincing them to sign would be the most difficult task knowing the amount of money Tanaka is going to garner. Once Tanaka is inked to a deal, the top remaining starting pitchers will be looking for big money.
Baltimore will likely add another player or two, but we, just like all Orioles fans are hoping to see a big time player call Camden Yards home in 2014 and join the good group already established in Charm City.
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