After seemingly not spending a dime in free agency last winter, excluding the $2-million re-signing of Nate McLouth, the Baltimore Orioles failed to return to playoffs in 2013. Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette did attempt to improve the team via midseason trades, but the ultimate goal of a second straight year of postseason baseball fell by the wayside after a forgettable September.
Whether this failure changes the Orioles' free-agency strategy this offseason is still yet to be determined. However, they may have the extra money necessary to make a maneuver or two.
In 2013, the Orioles' team salary was somewhere between $91 million and $103 million, as the midseason trades skewed the exact amount of money that the Orioles had to spend. Regardless, that cost puts the Orioles right in middle of the pack in terms of team salaries.
Second baseman Brian Roberts was the second-highest-paid Oriole at $10 million, while Jason Hammel received $6.75 million. Both Roberts and Hammel are set to go into free agency this offseason. So, assuming the Orioles choose not to re-sign either player, that frees up an extra $16 million, which they can spend to their liking.
According to baseball-reference.com, as of right now the O's have six players with guaranteed contracts for 2014, while Alexi Casilla has a $3 million team option.
|Nick Markakis||$15 million|
|Adam Jones||$13 million|
|J.J. Hardy||$7 million|
|Wei-Yin Chen||$4.07 million|
|Darren O'Day||$3.2 million|
|Dylan Bundy||$1.25 million|
While that sounds odd, it's actually quite normal.
The likes of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, among seven others, are under team control, although they have a year or two of arbitration left, meaning their salary could vary. Baseball-reference.com projects that these players will combine to make $26.6 million in 2014. However, with the season that Chris Davis had, that projection could be on the low end.
Younger players, such as Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty, also remain under team control and will make pretty much the same in 2014 as they did in 2013, as they are not yet eligible for arbitration.
Overall, before the re-signing of any players, baseball-reference.com projects the Orioles' salary at $77.8 million. Round that up to $80 million and the Orioles still remain under their 2013 team salary. This gives them some options heading into free agency, although a top-of-the-line free agent like Robinson Cano is probably out of the picture.
The O's could also choose to re-sign some players like starting pitcher Scott Feldman or relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez if they choose not to overspend much on any other free agents.
Either way, after a disappointing end to the season and perhaps some extra money to spend, it can be expected that the Orioles should be slightly more active this offseason compared to last.