Baltimore Orioles' 4 Biggest Missed Opportunities of the Offseason
The Baltimore Orioles had a fantastic 2014 season, as they won their division and went to the American League Championship Series for the first time since 1997.
After experiencing success and entering the offseason with just a few players hitting the free-agent market, fans hoped to see the O's jump on their window of opportunity and build their roster for an even deeper postseason run in 2015.
Unfortunately, the offseason was probably the opposite of what Birdland was hoping to see. The team lost veterans Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller, and the biggest name it added was Travis Snider.
That, coupled with the ugly rumors that surrounded Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette from the beginning of December through the end of January (that were ultimately silenced), made for quite a disappointing offseason for the O's.
There wasn't much available on the market that made sense for the Orioles, but there were some moves that the team could have made this winter.
Let's take a look at a few opportunities the team missed this offseason.
Melky Cabrera, Outfielder
The O's needed to make some additions to their outfield this winter, and Melky Cabrera was one of the more appealing options on the market.
The switch-hitter has a career .339 OBP, which would have been a welcomed sight on an O's team that posted a .311 number in that category. He would have fit nicely anywhere at the top of the lineup.
On top of his ability to get on base, he did hit 16 homers last season while also knocking in 73 runs, and he scored 81 times himself. His 35 doubles from last season would have been an obvious plus, as well.
He signed a three-year, $42 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, so he was a bit pricey, but the O's could have afforded to bring him in if they really wanted to. While it's arguable whether he's going to be worth the deal he signed, it's almost a sure thing to say his addition could have benefited the O's.
Nori Aoki, Outfielder
Left-handed hitting outfielder Nori Aoki may have been the best fit for the O's this offseason.
For one, he was had on a short, cheap deal, signing with the San Francisco Giants for just one year and $4.7 million. The one year would have allowed the O's to bring him in as a stopgap player while they develop minor league outfielders Dariel Alvarez and Mike Yastrzemski, and the price would have allowed the O's to save plenty of money to use in other areas.
Aoki also would have been a suitable replacement at the top of the order for the team, as his career .353 OBP would have provided a huge boost for the club, and his 67 career stolen bases over three seasons would have provided a speed boost for the team.
Aoki could have provided a cheap spark plug for the Birds, but they missed their chance.
Alexi Ogando, Pitcher
Coming off of an injury-riddled season, right-hander Alexi Ogando is an interesting reclamation project.
His career 3.35 ERA in 406 innings is a pretty impressive number, and he's made 48 career starts in 183 career games, so he can be used comfortably as a starter or as a reliever.
With the potential there, it all comes down to whether Ogando has regained his health and if he'll be able to maintain it. Surely Ogando will be looking to prove he's healthy and effective this year, as he'll be 32 in October and hoping to line up for what could be one of his last opportunities to sign a lucrative contract.
The Boston Red Sox brought him in on a one-year, $1.5 million deal this winter. The O's definitely could have afforded that, even if Ogando never pitched an inning for the big league club. It was a gamble with high upside that was, in my opinion, worth taking.
Nick Markakis, Right Fielder
After nine seasons playing in orange and black, longtime O's right fielder Nick Markakis decided to move on, signing a four-year, $44 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
Markakis has left a hole in right field for the Birds for the first time since 2006. The O's added Travis Snider to the mix, and he and Steve Pearce are expected to get the bulk of the playing time out in right.
O's fans wanted to see Markakis return to the team for sentimental reasons, but the team wasn't comfortable going longer than three guaranteed years on a contract with him due to a neck injury he ended up having surgery on after signing with Atlanta.
His price tag was admittedly high, but Markakis is likely good for 25-plus doubles, an OBP around .340 and steady, dependable defense in right field 150 games or more a season. The O's, and Birdland, will miss him.