Baltimore had a rough 2017 season. After looking like a playoff team early, the Orioles struggled with inconsistency the rest of the year and missed on a postseason berth. The Baltimore Orioles have a lot of options heading into this offseason, and they have some major decisions to make for the future of this team. Baltimore finished last in the American League East, and they will look to bounce back in 2018 with another playoff appearance. Here are the Orioles’ three greatest needs this offseason:
Acquire new starting pitchers
The Orioles had one of the worst pitching staffs in the MLB. In fact, the Orioles’ team ERA was fourth-highest in the Majors at 4.97. Also, the batting average of opposing teams was .269, third-highest in the Majors. Jeremy Hellickson and Chris Tillman struggled for the Orioles, and Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley were inconsistent. Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy had good stretches of starts, but they also struggled to limit runs throughout the season. Fortunately, this free agency class has a lot of strong starting pitchers, and the Orioles need to accumulate as much talent as they can this offseason.
Re-sign Manny Machado to a contract extension
Machado is the star of this team, and the Orioles drafted him and have seen him rise to the top of the Majors. Unlike Chris Davis, signing Machado to a long-term deal would be a good option. He is still young and has unmatched talent at third base. The Orioles were close to extending his contract a few years ago, but their offer was too low for Manny. He is likely worth between $225 million and $275 million, depending on the length of the contract. It is difficult to sign a re-sign a player with only a year left on his deal, but the Washington Nationals managed to do it with Stephen Strasburg. The Orioles should make a strong effort to sign Machado before he signs with a division rival like the Yankees or Red Sox who have no issues with handing out enormous contracts.
Let J.J. Hardy sign with another team
Hardy is a fan-favorite for Baltimore, but he is no longer needed in their infield. The Orioles have their starting shortstop in Tim Beckham, and Hardy is not the same player he was in 2013 when he was an All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and Silver Slugger. In 2017, his WAR (wins above replacement) was -0.5, which was the first time in his career that he had a negative value in that statistical category. The Orioles have younger talent that is ready to lead the infield, and at age 35, Hardy is not worth re-signing for the Orioles.
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