Baltimore O's: Fallback Options Following Recent Signings

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Baltimore O's: Fallback Options Following Recent Signings
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The Orioles would like to see pitcher Scott Feldman return to Baltimore this winter.

With the offseason almost a month old, dominoes have begun to fall around the league as teams have started making trades and signing free agents prior to this year's winter meetings.

The Baltimore Orioles have made some minor depth moves over the last week or so but have yet to make any real impact moves to fill the obvious holes on the 25-man roster.

Rumors have swirled around the O's for the last few weeks.

According to reports, the team has been interested in this guy and keeping an eye on that guy, but that's how the Hot Stove season works.

A couple of guys who the O's were rumored to be interested in have since left the market and signed deals with other teams. Of course, this means the Orioles will need to shift their attention to other players as they try to improve their team.

Keeping in mind that these were just rumors, let's take a look at a pair of players the O's may have been interested in and analyze who in the open market the team can turn their attention to now that these guys aren't available.

 

Tim Hudson, Starting Pitcher

According to Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports, the O's were "intrigued" by right-handed starter Tim Hudson and discussed him internally. I'm not sure they ever made him an offer, though, and he ended up signing on with the San Fransisco Giants for two years.

Hudson would have fit into the O's rotation perfectly, right behind Chris Tillman. Hudson is a veteran who knows how to pitch with great career numbers and postseason experience. The Giants are getting a good pitcher.

Now that the O's don't have a chance to go hard after Hudson, they could turn their attention to any one of three other free-agent arms to help fill out their rotation.

John Sommers II/Getty Images
Bronson Arroyo is a pitcher for whom the O's could make a serious run.

The first name is the guy who would probably fit best in the O's rotation, and that guy is Bronson Arroyo. In an interview Arroyo did with Mark Sheldon of MLB.com, the right-hander stated that the O's are one of a half-dozen teams to have expressed interest in him.

Arroyo isn't an ace, but he certainly would fit well into the O's rotation. He could pitch in the second or third spot in the rotation and provide quality innings. He's the only pitcher in the bigs to have made at least 32 starts every season since 2005, and he has had an ERA higher than 5.00 only once during that span, with his career ERA sitting at 4.19. He's failed to reach 200 innings just once since 2005, and that year was 2011 when he threw 199 innings.

The O's desperately need a durable innings eater to help give the bullpen a break every five days. Arroyo is the definition of that kind of pitcher, and he isn't tied to a draft pick.

The second target the O's could have in mind is left-hander Scott Kazmir, though their interest in him is a bit hazy. On the one hand, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted that Kazmir is high on the O's shopping list this winter, but Kubatko stood by his claim that the O's don't appear to be very interested in a guy who averaged fewer than six innings per start last season.

Kubatko makes a good point.

As I stated, the O's need an innings eater, and Kazmir is not that guy. He has potential and had a very nice bounce-back season after a few years of serious inconsistency and struggle, but the O's shouldn't be gambling on someone when they're trying to take a step forward competitively in the division. Still though, keep tabs on Kazmir this winter.

And how could we discuss possible free-agent pitching candidates without bringing up Scott Feldman's name. The tall right-hander became an Oriole this summer after the team made a deal with the Chicago Cubs for him, and he pitched fairly well, going 5-6 with a 4.27 ERA in 90.2 innings, making 15 total starts.

There's mutual interest for a reunion between both parties, and it likely comes down to whether Feldman really pushes for a three-year deal on the open market, as the O's would likely be much more willing to settle on two.

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Feldman would resign with the O's for two years and $17 million, with a vesting option for a third season. A deal such as that would probably make both sides happy.

While Feldman is included on this list, the O's have had tabs on him all offseason and likely still would if they had signed Hudson themselves. He's a guy they want back to help fill out the middle-to-back of their rotation with quality innings.

Also, a wild-card type candidate could be righty Gavin Floyd.

The O's have had an interest in him every winter for the last four years or so, as he is a Maryland native, and they have apparently been keeping tabs on him this winter while he recovers from an elbow surgery that limited him to just five starts this year with the Chicago White Sox. Prior to this season, however, he had been quite durable, making at least 29 starts in each of his last five full seasons. For his career, he has a 4.48 ERA.

 

Jhonny Peralta, Shortstop

But the Orioles don't need a shortstop, you say. And you are correct. The O's weren't interested in Jhonny Peralta playing shortstop for them. They toyed with the idea of signing him to play left field, according to Jon Paul Morosi of Fox Spots.

It probably wasn't too serious of an idea, and it probably wasn't a good one, either; however, we'll never know that Peralta has agreed to be the St. Louis Cardinals' shortstop for the next four years.

So who do the O's look at now? Glad you asked.

The biggest name they've been tied to is veteran Carlos Beltran, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted. And man, would he look great in the O's lineup, hitting around the likes of Adam Jones and Chris Davis. The O's could really use his on-base ability.

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Seeing outfielder Carlos Beltran's name in the O's lineup would be awesome, but is he worth the price?

But, as Rosenthal points out, the O's ability to sign Beltran may be directly connected with their ability to clear salary space by trading another high-priced piece of theirs, such as Matt Wieters or Jim Johnson. Doing so would obviously open up another hole in their roster, unless they can fill said hole through the trade. Replacing Johnson, the team's closer, would likely be easier than replacing Wieters, the catcher, as the team lacks major-league-ready catching depth in the minors.

If Beltran was signed, he'd offer the O's 20 to 30 home run power, 80 to 100 RBI capability and his beautiful career OBP of .359, not to mention his fantastic postseason numbers. He could also rotate between left field, right field and designated hitting, giving the O's some flexibility, depending on the opposing pitcher and which guys need days off that day.

Considering that Beltran is a big-ticket guy, though, the O's can't solely rely on signing him. They need to keep their options open, and that means keeping tabs on other players.

Another guy the Birds are considering for the job would be their incumbent left fielder, Nate McLouth.

Likely better suited for a platoon role, McLouth had a solid season with the O's last year, setting himself up for a decent deal on the free-agent market this winter.

Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors predicted that McLouth would receive a two-year, $10 million deal this offseason, which is likely a bit too pricey for the O's taste.

In fact, a person in the Orioles organization told Kubatko that "[McLouth] won't be getting that from us" when the potential numbers were floated between the two.

The O's likely don't have an issue with giving McLouth two years, but $10 million for a guy who would likely be a platoon outfielder is a bit much. If McLouth wants to return to Baltimore, he'll need to sign on for less money than that. Keep in mind though that the $10 million isn't something he's rumored to be looking for and was just a number floated by a writer. There's no real evidence of McLouth's demands being in that range, let alone evidence of any demands he's made at all.

His .329 OBP was second-best on the roster last season, and he led the team with 30 stolen bases, so his value is obviously there. But it's up to the Orioles to determine how much his value is worth to them and whether they'd need to add someone else to platoon with him or not.

With that said, Birdland will be eagerly awaiting the winter meetings and beyond to see how the Hot Stove season plays out for their favorite team.

Is there anyone else that you believe the O's are considering and/or have a legitimate shot at signing or trading for this winter? If so, let me know in the comments!

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