Baltimore Orioles: 5 Low-Key Moves the Birds Should Make
Last month, I wrote a piece on the ideal moves I'd make if I were the Orioles, but it is now obvious that names like Buehrle, Sizemore, and Broxton are off the table, as well as many of the other big-name marquee players.
The Orioles are at a crossroads. Newly-hired Dan Duquette is running the show now and has promised a commitment to building a farm system, but he has said he would like to keep the team's core together (Jones, Hardy, Wieters), which doesn't leave many desirable trade chips up for grabs in the eyes of the other 29 General Managers.
The Orioles offseason has been nothing but a series of low-key, depth moves. The league's worst pitching staff has added career underachiever LHP Dana Eveland and soft-tossing Japanese LHP Tsuyoshi Wada. The Orioles need pitching and that is no big secret.
It would seem that Wada either slots into the rotation or finds himself to be the next Koji Uehara for the Orioles, but from the left side. The Orioles also need to add some bench pieces, at least one more starter and preferably someone that won't need to "fight it out in the spring" for a starting job.
LHP Joe Saunders
Joe pitched better than most would think going 12-13 with a 3.69 era in 212 IP
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If Joe Saunders really likes it in Arizona, he'll probably end up back there despite being non-tendered by them. Now, Saunders won't blow the competition away, but his best year was with the Angels in the AL back in '08 and he could be a reliable workhorse while taking pressure off of staff ace Jeremy Guthrie.
Saunders could likely be had for less than $8M a year, seeing as he is projected to have earned between $5-6M through arbitration. If the Orioles were to commit for two years and a competitive salary, there is little doubt that he'd seriously consider coming to Baltimore.
RHP Aaron Cook
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Aaron Cook isn't overwhelming when you look at his career 4.53 ERA, but when you realize all of that service time was with Colorado, where the air is just a bit thinner and the ball tends to travel further, he doesn't look so bad as a buy-low option.
I'm not suggesting the Orioles consider him as someone to immediately sign and stick into the rotation, but he could serve as quality insurance for the rotation and a possible contender for a starting job or, worse-case scenario, anchor a Norfolk staff or work in long-relief.
RHP David Aardsma
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Now, it has been reported that David Aardsma will be out until at least midseason as he is recovering from Tommy-John surgery, but Aardsma could be a great, very under-the-radar pick-up for the Orioles.
David recorded 96 saves in his two full seasons with the Mariners and could prove to be a solution at closer for several years more given that he is currently just 29 years old. It is highly unlikely that Aardsma will garner a two-year deal; the Orioles will probably offer him a one-year deal and load it with incentives.
OF Rick Ankiel
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When healthy, Rick Ankiel played a solid to great CF for the Nationals. He doesn't have great speed, but he still can cover solid ground in the OF. Ankiel isn't in high demand as bench bats don't tend to sign until after the holidays, but Ankiel can platoon with Reimold in LF and/or work as the fourth OF. It is also worth noting that he still has one of the very best arms at any OF position.
2B/SS Omar Vizquel
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Now, you might be ready to crucify me for even suggesting the 45-year old veteran, but he would purely be a utility INF option. He plays excellent defense even if he is only a shell of his former self and would solidify the Orioles bench along with Ankiel by improving the team off the bench both in the field and with the bats.