By: Adam Pasternak
After an incredibly eventful offseason, Spring Training is finally here! The players have all reported to their respective Spring Training facilities and the 2016 MLB season is only a month and a half away. Over the next couple of weeks we will cover all 30 MLB teams and talk about what’s in store for the coming season. Today, we talk about the Baltimore Orioles!
As mentioned in all previous Spring Training Reports, the AL East has improved tremendously over the offseason – and that includes the Baltimore Orioles. After it looked like their star first baseman, Chris Davis, was destined to leave via free agency, he ended up back with the Orioles on a massive 7 year, $161M contract that will see him net a cool $17M this coming season. Yovani Gallardo was recently added on a 2 year, $22M deal with an option for a third year. He adds a much needed depth to the Baltimore rotation. As well, they signed Mark Trumbo, among others – moves that should give manager Buck Showalter some flexibility when setting his lineups.
The rotation going into Spring Training this year looks like this Tillman, Gallardo, Gonzalez, Jimenez and Gausman/Wright. While they did lose their top lefty in Wei-Yin Chen, they added a legitimate a number two starter in Yovani Gallardo. After taking over for the injured Yu Darvish in Texas last season, Gallardo took what early on looked to be a terrible Rangers team into the playoffs; where they ultimately lost to the Toronto Blue Jays in the ALDS. Gallardo was excellent in both of his performances in the series, and proved that he could be a legitimate force in the MLB. With Tillman, Gonzalez and Jimenez all being veterans and having experienced success in the Big Leagues before – the recently added depth to their staff takes the pressure off them and will allow them to pitch more freely. The number five starter isn’t set in stone yet, and most likely wont be until the last few days of Spring Training. Throughout the spring, we will get to see the once highly touted prospect, Kevin Gausman, try to beat out 26 year old Mike Wright for the fifth and final spot in the rotation. I would have to assume Gausman has the edge here, as Wright can also come out of the bullpen, and has with success in the past.
The infield is essentially the same as last season’s, with the addition of DH/1B/OF Mark Trumbo. Trumbo’s versatility allows the Orioles to go with many different combinations of lineups and gives them options in certain situations. It will be interesting to see how Buck Showalter decides to use him – will he be more of a DH, or will Davis do most of the DH’ing this year? As the spring goes on, we will be able to see how each player fares in the field – but in the end, because of Davis’ status in the league, he will start come opening day. If Trumbo can show he has the edge in the field, by the end of the summer we could see that all change. Doing the catching is the now healthy Matt Wieters, who Baltimore is hoping returns to his all-star form. With Adam Jones, Davis, Manny Machado and Wieters all penciled in to lead the offence for the Birds this year – it is imperative that the latter three stay healthy, as they have had trouble doing so in the past.
In the outfield, Adam Jones is the only remaining member of the 2014 AL East championship team. With the returning Nolan Reimold slotted in in left, and the mostly unknown Dariel Alvarez in right – the biggest weakness of this year’s Orioles team will be their outfield depth. This is where the loss of Steve Pearce hurts them the most. With Trumbo essentially taking over his role as backup first basemen/DH, it would have been great for Baltimore to re-sign Pierce to play left field. Having said all that, the Orioles are much improved, as their rotation should be able to allow them to stay in games and pitch deeper into games than in previous years. The additions that were made should fit in perfectly, but the biggest move of the offseason for them was definitely re-signing star first basemen, Chris Davis. His power numbers over the last four seasons are at the top of the league, and he brings much needed confidence to this Orioles team.
I don’t think the Orioles will win the division this year, but they will push for a wild card spot. Will they get it? I’m not so sure, but one thing I do know for sure is – they won’t go down without a fight!
What do you think about the Orioles offseason? Were the right players added? Do they have a shot at a playoff spot even with the moves that the Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays all made this offseason? Comment below!
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