Category Archives: Baltimore Orioles

2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox were quiet for most of the offseason until they finally jumped into free agency in a big way by signing power hitter J.D. Martinez. Boston already had a terrific pitching staff led by Chris Sale, David Price, Drew Pomeranz, and Rick Porcello. Also, they have a very good bullpen led by elite closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston also had a very talented lineup already with players like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, Hanley Ramirez, and Dustin Pedroia. Adding J.D. Martinez to the mix gives the team the power bat in the middle of their lineup that they desperately needed. Boston has won the AL East two years in a row and they are a stronger team than they were a year ago. The Yankees will certainly give the Red Sox some tough competition this season, but it is difficult to find a weakness on Boston’s team and they are still the team to beat in the AL East.


2. New York Yankees

The New York Yankees made it to the ALCS last season, but they actually appear to be a more dangerous team this season especially after the addition of 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton. He hit 59 home runs for the Marlins last season and he will form a dynamic duo with Aaron Judge who hit 52 home runs for the Yankees in 2017. New York also has catcher Gary Sanchez who has proven that he can be an elite power hitter as well. The Yankees also appear to have a really good pitching staff heading into the 2018 season. They have a terrific bullpen with Aroldis Chapman as the closer and Dellin Betances and David Robertson as very reliable late-inning options as well. New York also has a good starting rotation with Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and CC Sabathia. The only real concern for the Yankees is at 2nd base and 1st base. Ronald Torreyes and Gleyber Torres will compete for the starting 2nd base job, but they are both inexperienced players and it is unknown what they can provide in 2018. 1st Base is clearly the biggest area of weakness for the Yankees as Greg Bird struggled last season. Bird is the clear starter at 1st base, but he needs to bounce back in 2018 in order to help the Yankees lineup reach its full potential. New York is definitely a playoff-caliber team and they will compete with the Red Sox for the division, but the Yankees still have a few weaknesses that hold them back a little bit.

3. Toronto Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are a team that has playoff potential, but they also have the potential to be a completely bad team in 2018. Josh Donaldson will obviously carry the Blue Jays lineup this season assuming that he can stay healthy. Justin Smoak will also probably provide some solid power in the middle of the lineup for the Blue Jays. However, it is unknown what the rest of the lineup will provide. Troy Tulowitzki and Russell Martin are proven MLB players, but they have struggled with injuries and inconsistent play recently. Curtis Granderson and Randal Grichuk are the new starting outfielders for the Blue Jays after being acquired by Toronto this offseason. However, it is a mystery as to how much they will provide to the Blue Jays lineup. Toronto’s pitching staff appears to be the strength of their team as they have a good starting rotation led by Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ. Also, Toronto’s 8th and 9th inning options in the bullpen appear to be very good with Roberto Osuna as the closer and Ryan Tepera as a quality setup man. However, the Blue Jays need better production from the rest of their bullpen and they need to find another good setup man. Toronto isn’t on the same level as the Yankees or the Red Sox, although if all goes right for Toronto then they still could compete for a wild card spot in 2018.

4. Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore is kind of on the same level as Toronto as they are a team that won’t challenge for the division title, but they could still be a playoff contender. We all know that the Orioles will probably score a ton of runs this offseason as they have many dangerous threats in their lineup. Manny Machado is their best hitter overall, but they still have Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo as other dangerous hitters in their lineup. Baltimore also has an extremely good bullpen, but they will have to be without star closer Zach Britton for awhile as he probably won’t be back until at least late May. Brad Brach should be just fine as the closer until Britton returns, but Britton’s injury will still hurt the Orioles a little bit. The good news is that Baltimore has a very deep bullpen with Darren O’Day and Mychal Givens as solid late-inning options as well. Baltimore’s main weakness is their starting pitching as they don’t really have a clear ace on their team and they don’t really have any good consistent starters. Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Chris Tillman, and Andrew Cashner are all decent pitchers. However, they are all very inconsistent and they aren’t enough to be a good starting rotation. Baltimore just needs their starting rotation to be decent and if that happens then the Orioles are good enough in other areas to possibly be a playoff team.

5. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay is clearly hitting the rebuild button after getting rid of Corey Dickerson, Jake Odorizzi, Tommy Hunter, Evan Longoria, Alex Cobb, Steven Souza Jr., Steve Cishek, and Brad Boxberger. That is a long list of quality major league players that they let go of, but the issue is that they didn’t even come close to replacing those players. The only players that they added that are proven MLB players are Denard Span, Carlos Gomez, and C.J. Cron. Tampa now basically has inexperience at many positions on their roster with Matt Duffy, Daniel Robertson, Mallex Smith, Denard Span, and C.J. Cron as new starters in their lineup this season. Tampa is going to have a really difficult time scoring runs this season as their best hitter is probably Kevin Kiermaier and even he isn’t a great hitter. The Rays still have a good starting rotation led by Chris Archer. However, it is unknown what kind of production that they will receive from the rest of their young starting pitchers like Blake Snell, Jacob Faria, and Matt Andriese. Tampa’s bullpen is probably the strength of the team with elite closer Alex Colome and quality setup options Dan Jennings and Sergio Romo. Tampa is a very young team with many unproven players and it appears that it could be a very rough season for the Rays in 2018.


Phillies trade Hellickson to the Orioles

The Philadelphia Phillies continued their lengthy rebuild just before the trade deadline as they sent starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for outfielder Hyun Soo Kim and minor league pitcher Garrett Cleavinger.


Philadelphia Phillies analysis/grade:

Jeremy Hellickson had really hurt his trade value this season with the Phillies as he had a 4.73 ERA for the team. However, Hellickson was set to be a free agent after this season so the Phillies had to get at least something in return for him. The most notable player that the Phillies received in this trade is Hyun Soo Kim who has been a backup outfielder for the Orioles. Soo Kim had a good 2016 season for Baltimore as he hit .302 with 6 home runs in his first major league season. However, Soo Kim has struggled this season as he is hitting only .233 with 1 home run in limited playing time. Soo Kim is a free agent after the season, so he is likely just a temporary solution for the Phillies in the outfield. He should get a lot more playing time the rest of this season with the Phillies than he did in Baltimore since Philadelphia is not competing for a playoff spot. The Phillies also received 23-year old minor league relief pitcher Garrett Cleavinger in this trade. Cleavinger was a 3rd round pick in 2015 by the Orioles, so he clearly has the potential to be a major league player. However, Cleavinger is having a terrible season in 2017 as he has a 6.28 ERA in Double-A. Cleavinger is still an intriguing prospect and if he can return to the type of player that he was in 2015 and 2016 then he could be a good bullpen piece for the Phillies. Overall, the Phillies didn’t get much in return for Hellickson, but this trade was definitely worth it since he was probably going to leave in free agency anyway.

Grade: B


Baltimore Orioles analysis/grade:

The Baltimore Orioles have struggled to find quality starting pitchers for years and they especially don’t have much depth in their rotation right now. However, the addition of Hellickson should at least add some starting pitcher depth for the Orioles this season. If Hellickson can pitch like he did in 2016 or like he did early on in his career, then he could make a big difference for Baltimore. However, Hellickson is very inconsistent and he hasn’t had a good 2017 season as he currently has a 4.73 ERA. The Orioles still have very slim playoff hopes this season, but this isn’t the type of trade that will get them there. Hellickson is only a rental player for the Orioles since he is a free agent after the season which is why it is strange that the Orioles traded for him since Baltimore doesn’t have much of a chance at the playoffs this season. The Orioles didn’t give up much to acquire Hellickson and maybe they can re-sign him this offseason, but this is a trade that won’t make much of a positive impact for Baltimore.

Grade: C-

jeremy hellickson

Season Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

Projected 2017 Starting Lineup:

  1. Adam Jones – Center fielder
  2. Seth Smith – Right Fielder
  3. Manny Machado – 3rd baseman
  4. Chris Davis – 1st baseman
  5. Mark Trumbo – Designated Hitter
  6. Jonathan Schoop – 2nd baseman
  7. Welington Castillo – Catcher
  8. J.J. Hardy – Shortstop
  9. Hyun Soo Kim – Left Fielder

Projected 2017 Pitching Rotation:

  1. Chris Tillman
  2. Kevin Gausman
  3. Dylan Bundy
  4. Ubaldo Jimenez
  5. Wade Miley

Season Outlook:

There is no doubt that the Baltimore Orioles have one of the most dangerous lineups in all of the MLB as the only weakness in their lineup is Hyun Soo Kim. Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Mark Trumbo in the middle of their lineup makes opposing pitchers shiver with fear. Trumbo hit 47 home runs, Davis hit 38 home runs, and Machado hit 37 home runs. Pretty much anybody in Baltimore’s lineup has the ability to make a major impact and the offense is certainly what will carry the Orioles in 2017. However, the Orioles pitching staff is what continues to hold the Orioles back. Chris Tillman is the team’s best starting pitcher as he went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA last season. However, Tillman is injured right now and the issue is that there isn’t much consistency besides him. Gausman and Bundy have lots of potential, but they have yet to prove themselves for Baltimore. Also, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez have been productive pitchers a few years ago, but they have both been terrible lately. The Orioles have an outstanding bullpen with Zach Britton, Brad Brach, and Darren O’Day in the late innings. However, the starting pitching for the Orioles hasn’t been good enough to give their bullpen a chance to close out games. The Orioles have the offense to be playoff contenders in the highly competitive AL East, but it is hard to see basically the same pitching rotation improving much in 2017.

Prediction: 3rd place in the AL East


Biggest need remaining for every AL East team

Baltimore Orioles – Biggest need: Right Fielder

It appeared that the Orioles would try and bring back last year’s starting right fielder Mark Trumbo, but it seems less likely that they will bring him back in 2017. Now, the Orioles seem to be stuck with Joey Rickard as their starting right fielder next season. Rickard put up respectable stats as he had a .268 average with 5 home runs last year. However, he has limited MLB experience and it is a mystery how well he’ll do with the starting job in right field. Baltimore still could sign a right fielder in free agency for the right price possibly a player like Jose Bautista. Either way, the Orioles need to at least add some more depth and competition in right field.

Boston Red Sox – Biggest need: Catcher

Sandy Leon had a career year at catcher for the Red Sox as he hit .310 with 7 home runs with limited opportunities. However, Leon has been a backup catcher for most of his career and he has been relatively unproductive offensively until last season. He will now be asked to be the full-time catcher for Boston next season and it will be interesting to see how he handles that pressure. The Red Sox have enough depth at the catcher position, but they need to find a starting catcher that they are comfortable playing full-time.

New York Yankees – Biggest need: Starting Pitcher

Masahiro Tanaka is a very good ace for the Yankees heading into 2017, but he has struggled to stay healthy recently and it is a question as to how many innings he can pitch. Michael Pineda and C.C. Sabathia are both talented pitchers, but they are also really inconsistent. Luis Severino was awful last season with a 5.83 ERA and Adam Warren has been a relief pitcher for most of his career. There aren’t many starting pitching options left in free agency for the Yankees to choose from. However, they have the prospects that they should probably trade for a quality starting pitcher at some point.

Tampa Bay Rays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The major weakness last season for the Rays was that they couldn’t close out games with their bullpen. Alex Colome was an all-star closer, but the team had trouble just giving him save opportunities in 2016. The only strength in Tampa Bay’s bullpen is Colome and the rest of their relief pitchers are a major question mark. Xavier Cedeno and Danny Farquhar figure to be the 7th and 8th inning guys for the Rays, but both players have been inconsistent throughout their careers. There are still numerous bullpen options remaining in free agency, but the question is whether the cheap Rays will be willing to sign a quality relief pitcher.

Toronto Blue Jays – Biggest need: Bullpen

The loss of quality relief pitcher Brett Cecil in free agency will most likely hurt the Blue Jays as their bullpen appears to be a weakness heading into 2017. Roberto Osuna was a very good closer last season for Toronto as he had a 2.68 ERA and 36 saves. However, the team doesn’t have much else in the bullpen besides Osuna. Jason Grilli has been a decent bullpen option earlier in his career, but he is 40 years old and he was not very good last season. Danny Barnes would be the other setup man for Toronto, although he is inexperienced and he had a 3.95 ERA for the Blue Jays in 2016. Toronto needs to bolster their bullpen by signing a relief pitcher that can help them temporarily.

Orioles sign Castillo to a 1-year deal

The Baltimore Orioles have a new starting catcher for the 2017 season as they signed Welington Castillo to a 1-year/$6 million contract with a club option for 2018. It was shocking that the Diamondbacks non-tendered Castillo this offseason after he had a productive 2016 season. The Orioles certainly had a need for a new catcher and apparently Castillo will be that guy. Castillo doesn’t bring much defensively for Baltimore as he had a league-high 10 passed balls last season. However, it is difficult to find a catcher in the MLB that is as productive as Castillo was with the Diamondbacks. He hit .264 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI’s last season, so Baltimore is hoping he can continue that offensive consistency. Baltimore didn’t seem interested in bringing back starting catcher Matt Wieters, so this signing pretty much ends any chance of a reunion with Wieters. The Orioles now have a pretty good catching duo with Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph. Castillo’s lack of defense is really concerning, although this is a move that will make the Orioles lineup even better next season.

Grade: B+


Free Agent that every AL East team should re-sign

Baltimore Orioles – Mark Trumbo – Outfielder – 2016: .256 avg. and 47 home runs

It is really obvious that the Orioles need to re-sign Mark Trumbo. Sure, he is a liability on defense in the outfield and his offensive production worsened the 2nd half of the season. However, he led the major leagues in home runs last season and he is certainly the key to the success of the Orioles offense. The Orioles would still have a ton of offensive firepower without him, but they would miss his constant threat of hitting a home run. We’ll see if the relatively cheap Orioles are willing to dish out the money needed to keep Trumbo in town.

Boston Red Sox – Junichi Tazawa – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 3-2 and 4.17 ERA

Tazawa had a few really good years as a setup man in the bullpen for the Red Sox from 2012-2014 as his highest ERA during that time period was 3.16. However, the last two years haven’t been nearly as good including a 4.17 ERA last season. Tazawa is only 30 years old and he still has a lot of productive years ahead of him which is why the Red Sox try and re-sign him. Tazawa is still a really good setup man and Boston could probably keep him for a cheap price and hope that he can regain the type of player that he was only a few years ago.

New York Yankees – Chris Parmelee – 1st baseman – 2016: 8-at bats and 2 home runs

There isn’t really a free agent that the Yankees should retain or will likely retain, so I’m just going to say that they should re-sign Chris Parmelee for depth purposes. Parmelee only had 8 at-bats for the Yankees and yet he made the most of the opportunity by going 4-8 with 2 home runs. The Yankees have uncertainty at the 1st base position and by re-signing Parmelee to a minor league deal then they can keep him at Triple-A and then call him up when they really need him.

Tampa Bay Rays – Kevin Jepsen – Relief Pitcher – 2016: 5.98 ERA

Kevin Jepsen had a horrible year last season for the Twins and the Rays as he posted a combined 5.98 ERA between the two teams. However, the 2 years prior to that he had an ERA of 2.63 in 2014 and 2.33 in 2015. Tampa Bay needs bullpen help badly and re-signing Jepsen to a 1-year deal at a cheap price would be a really smart move because he will surely bounce back in 2017.

Toronto Blue Jays – Michael Saunders – Left Fielder – 2016: .253 avg. and 24 home runs

Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are obviously the big name free agents that could be departing Toronto this offseason. However, the key to the Blue Jays continued success will be to retain Michael Saunders. He had the best year of his career in 2016 with 24 home runs and he might not be a middle of the lineup type player, but without him the Blue Jays would have a major void in left field. Saunders won’t command too much money, so it shouldn’t be that hard for Toronto to bring him back and they definitely need to do anything they can to re-sign him.

Predicted landing spots for the Top 10 Free Agents

The 2016 free agent class is filled with great closing pitchers, but other than that the free agent market is rather weak especially with starting pitchers. Either way, here are my top 10 free agent rankings and where I predict that they will land this offseason.

  1. Yoenis Cespedes – Outfielder – Former Team: New York Mets

It isn’t a shock that Cespedes opted out of his contract with the Mets considering that he is in line to receive a big long-term contract that is surely going to be worth more than $100 million. Cespedes has tremendous power as evidenced by his 31 home runs last season for the Mets. However, he isn’t the type of player that can carry a team on his shoulders, so he’ll likely land with a contender this offseason. The Yankees could make a strong push for Cespedes since they always want to make a big splash in free agency. However, the Mets will have an awful offense without him and they’ll likely do anything to re-sign him which is why he’ll likely return to the Mets despite the many offers that he’ll receive.

Prediction: Returns to the Mets

2. Edwin Encarnacion – 1st baseman/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Edwin Encarnacion struck out a lot of times last season, but he proved why he is a dangerous hitter as he hit a whopping 42 home runs along with 127 RBI’s. He can play a decent 1st base, but at 34 years old he is most likely to be a full-time designated hitter. I don’t see a return for Encarnacion to Toronto after they just signed Kendrys Morales. However, the Red Sox, Yankees, and Astros are all in the mix for a big-time middle of the order bat like Encarnacion. Boston is a team in need of a designated hitter after the retirement of David Ortiz and they have the money to be able to pull a deal for Encarnacion off, so ultimately he will land with the Red Sox on a 2 or 3-year deal.

Prediction: Signs with the Red Sox

3. Justin Turner – 3rd Baseman – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Justin Turner is a really good 3rd baseman that just happens to really benefit from a poor market at the 3rd base position. He has always had a good batting average, but he took his offensive abilities to the next level last season with 27 home runs for the Dodgers. Also, he is an average defensive 3rd baseman, so that adds to his value even more. The Braves, Padres, and Giants are teams that will have interest in Turner. However, the Giants seem like the team that will challenge the Dodgers the most for him. Turner could get around $15-20 million per season and the Dodgers have the money and the desperation in order to re-sign him.

Prediction: Returns to the Dodgers

4. Kenley Jansen – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen is one of the top closers in MLB and yet he is only 29 years old, so he could be in line for a substantial long-term deal this offaseason. He is a hard-thrower and he has a cutter pitch that rivals that of Mariano Rivera. Also, he has had consistent production in recent years including last year when he had a 1.83 ERA and 47 saves for the Dodgers. There are many teams interested in Jansen and the Dodgers would certainly would like him to come back. However, the Cubs have a need for a closer since they don’t seem like they will retain their closer Aroldis Chapman. Chicago could use a consistent closer like Jansen that can pitch multiple innings especially in the postseason.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

5. Aroldis Chapman – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Chapman is extremely difficult to hit at times because of his 100+ MPH fastball that hitters can’t catch up to. He proved valuable for the Cubs in the postseason as he could pitch multiple innings and he handled the workload well. Also, his 1.55 ERA and 36 saves last season was extremely impressive. The Cubs could be interested in a reunion with Chapman this offseason. However, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees, and Nationals all could make a significant push to sign him. Any of those teams could make a case to sign him, but ultimately I believe the Washington Nationals will pull it off. Washington won’t re-sign Jonathon Papelbon after his terrible 2016 season which means the team has a need for a big-time closer like Chapman. Washington seems one piece away from being a world series contender and Chapman could be the guy to finally get them there.

Prediction: Signs with the Nationals

6. Ian Desmond – Shortstop/Outfielder – Former Team: Texas Rangers

Nobody rebuilt their free agent value more than Desmond did this past season as he hit .285 in 22 home runs in his one season with the Rangers. He has played shortstop most of his career, but he was an everyday center fielder for Texas last season. It is his powerful bat that teams desire, yet his position versatility will certainly help him as well. The Indians, Astros, Rangers, Orioles, and Braves all will have interest in Desmond. I could certainly see him returning to the Rangers or even bolting for the Astros or Indians. However, Baltimore seems like the team that could make the strongest push for Desmond. The Orioles don’t necessarily have a need in center field or at shortstop, but Desmond did play some left field last season and the Orioles have a big need at that position. I don’t see Desmond replacing Adam Jones in center field, yet Desmond could be an upgrade at shortstop or in left field for Baltimore.

Prediction: Signs with the Orioles

7. Mark Trumbo – Outfielder/Designated Hitter – Former Team: Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo smacked a whopping 47 home runs last season which majorly improved his free agent value for this offseason. He does bring a lot of offensive ability and he was a starting outfielder last year for the Orioles, but his limited defensive capabilities make him a likely candidate for a full-time designated hitter job. There won’t be too many teams interested in him this offseason as basically only the Blue Jays, Yankees, and Braves are in the mix. The Orioles could try and re-sign him and Trumbo would likely come back, but the question is if Baltimore really wants him back that much. The Blue Jays are certainly a team to watch out for because they like power bats and they have a need at both right field and 1st base. Trumbo could play either of those positions and he would be a good signing for the Blue Jays because he is a solid middle of the lineup hitter.

Prediction: Signs with the Blue Jays

8. Dexter Fowler – Outfielder – Former Team: Chicago Cubs

Fowler is a tremendous leadoff hitter because of his tremendous speed and ability and to get on base. He had a solid year with a .276 average and 13 home runs for the Cubs which puts him in line to get paid a pretty good contract. The Cardinals, Rangers, White Sox, and Braves all could have interest in Fowler this offseason. However, I don’t really see him leaving the Cubs. He seems to like playing for Chicago and they won’t be the same team without him leading off their lineup.

Prediction: Signs with the Cubs

9. Mike Napoli – 1st baseman – Former Team: Cleveland Indians

Mike Napoli really helped his free agent value by proving that he still has tons of power as he hit 34 home runs for the Indians last season. He also is a terrific defensive player which will help give some confidence to teams about signing him. Toronto, Minnesota, and Seattle could have interest in Napoli on a short-term deal. However, Indians manager Terry Francona has a good connection with Napoli and the team will likely have a lot of interest in bringing him back. His offensive consistency is a little bit concerning, but I don’t see much of a scenario where Napoli leaves Cleveland.

10. Mark Melancon – Closing Pitcher – Former Team: Washington Nationals

Mark Melancon doesn’t have the power arm that Jansen and Chapman have, but if you look at the stats Melancon has been just as productive as those guys have been in recent years. Melancon had a 1.64 ERA last season and 47 saves with the Pirates and the Nationals and the Dodgers, Nationals, Giants, and Diamondbacks all could have interest in him. The Nationals probably want to sign either Jansen/Chapman since they are younger and they are harder-throwing closers. However, I believe the Giants could make a strong push to sign Melancon. It’s no secret that the Giants bullpen was terrible last season and it’s also no secret that the Giants are going to try to sign either Jansen, Chapman, or Melancon to fill their closer’s role. I can’t really see the Giants spending outbiding the Nationals, Dodgers, and Cubs for Chapman and Jansen, so it appears they’ll be stuck signing Melancon and I’m sure they’re fine with that.

Prediction: Signs with the Giants