As we had head into the winter after the Orioles’ 14th losing season, free agency will be a key part of the O’s plan to rebuild their franchise. In the past three years the O’s payroll has gone from about $67 million to about $86 million. Every Orioles fan knows that the Orioles have money, but have been afraid to offer a big contract because they don’t want another case like Albert Belle. The Orioles do have money to spend this off-season but with the uncertainty at GM it may mean falling back into being our usual, non-aggressive bystanders. However, there are some free agents I believe the O’s could go after this off-season:
Aramis Ramirez – Ramirez had a bounce back year after a disappointing 2009 season, hitting .306 with 26 HR, 93 RBI, and an OBP of .361. Ramirez also had a fielding percentage of .953, compared to Mark Reynolds’ Fielding Percentage of .897 at third base. I also believe that Mark Reynolds plays a very decent first base (.987 Field Percentage). Ramirez will prove to be a corner bat that the Orioles desperately need.
Edwin Jackson- Yes I know Jackson has played for 6 teams already in his short career but he is only 28 years-old and has started to become an innings eater, having thrown 214 innings in ’09, 209.1 in ’10 and falling 1 out short from 200 innings in 2011. Jackson also has a respectable, but not great 4.46 ERA throughout his 8 year career (he debuted for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2003). He has also eclipsed 10 wins every year since 2008 (unfortunately, something difficult for Orioles pitching). I would like the O’s to bring him in on a 3 or 4 year deal. Jackson is apparently looking for a 4 year deal this offseason.
Roy Oswalt- If you look for consistency in a pitcher you should look to Roy Oswalt. Since beginning his career in 2001, Oswalt has averaged 196 innings a year, with 14 wins a year, and a 3.21 ERA. Recently, however, Oswalt has been dealing chronic back issues which will scare some teams away. If we can bring Oswalt in on a salary less than his $16 MM he earned this past year then I believe it will be a very good signing for the O’s. I like Oswalt on 2 or 3- year deal at about 7 or 8MM per year.
· Other players I like include:
Grady Sizemore- He’s definitely high- risk/high- reward, Could be willing to play LF for the O’s
Aaron Hill- Has had consecutive below average years since in ’10 and ‘11 but with the uncertainty of Brian Roberts’ health, Hill could have a J.J. Hardy-like resurgence.
Jonathan Broxton- the O’s have overpaid many relievers in past years, but I like Broxton as a decent bullpen option. He may not be the flame-throwing closer he once was, but I believe he could have a bounce-back year if he stays healthy.
Lastly, I wish the Orioles would go after Prince Fielder, arguably the top Free Agent on the market, but I do not believe ownership is willing to spend the money on a player asking for more than $150 million. The last time we offered a deal even close to that was for Mark Teixeira in the winter of ’08, we offered $140 million and he signed with NYY for $180 millon.