Boy, this article has that fresh, new blog smell.
If you didn’t know yet, this is my first article with The Baltimore Battery, and I wanted to introduce myself with a strong, fun piece.
As we all know, the Orioles found themselves in a wonderfully unexpected position last season. As perenial basement-dwellers who struggled to make any progress towards escaping said basement, the Birds suddenly found themselves in the hunt for a coveted postseason spot.
They ultimately fell short of that mark, but that imbued them with hope and the possibility of change for the better.
Since they did fall short, fans were hopeful the team would be a little aggressive in free agency. They added some solid depth and helpful pieces, but they weren’t as aggressive as some would have hoped.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s left in free agency. Here are five free agent players still on the market who could help the Orioles in 2023.
MICHAEL WACHA – Right-Handed Pitcher
Michael Wacha is the most appealing option overall still available on the market. It’s plain for all of Birdland to see that they need another arm.
Wacha has had his share of injury troubles, but he’s shown that he’s still solid and a really talented pitcher. Last year, he went 11-2 in 23 starts with a 3.32 ERA and posted a 3.31 WAR.
Wacha is a very strong arm capable of stringing together some dominant performances. He’s a veteran who can really control the plate and the game, and he’s also only 31, so he still has plenty of quality seasons left in him.
Wacha would provide Baltimore with another quality veteran in their rotation to pair with a growing bullpen. Plus, he played for Boston last year, and it’s always sweet to steal a player from a divisional rival.
BRANDON BELT – First Baseman
Brandon Belt is a very subjective pick. He’s a strong, proven veteran with a good bat and plenty of postseason experience.
He would provide leadership, solid productivity and can help guys rest and rotate throughout the lineup. The more pieces the O’s have that can rack up extra base hits, the better.
Having rotational big bats to keep guys healthy and rested would be huge. The tough part of choosing Belt is that he commands a hefty price with a solid injury risk.
He hasn’t played a full season in three years, he’s turning 35 soon and he’s estimated to be worth $18 million a year, a big price for GM Mike Elias.
Should they take the gamble on an aging player with injury concerns at that price? I think it’s a gamble, but one with a lot of upside.
I think it would be worth the risk to have a heavy-hitting rotational piece that could provide a spark late in the season.
ANDREW CHAFIN – Left-Handed Pitcher
It’s no secret the Orioles lacked the bullpen depth that was needed to be a bonafide contender.
They added Mychal Givens and Kyle Gibson for some depth, but having more help never hurts. Adding a couple of reliable relievers can really help them in a lot of those mid-to-late-game situations.
Andrew Chafin posted a 2.83 ERA and a 10.5 K/9 rate in 2022, a very strong season. He doesn’t rack up a lot of saves, but he is extremely effective in late-game situations.
He allowed a .205 batting average and just 10 extra base hits through 156 at-bats in said situations. It doesn’t hurt either that he’s a lefty that really knows how to handle right-handed batters.
Chafin would provide great mentorship with some commanding hold ability. In a division full of heavy hitters and strong lineups, having strong relievers goes a long way.
At 33 years old with a cheaper price tag, it would be a great value pickup for the Orioles to bolster their postseason contention for 2023.
MICHAEL FULMER – Right-Handed Pitcher
Michael Fulmer is yet another low-cost reliever option that has plenty of upside.
Fulmer spent the majority of his career as an underwhelming starter that failed to live up to the hype. A lot of teams and fans gave up on him.
Then he transitioned into a bullpen role in 2021, where he put together a 2.90 ERA over 111.2 innings the last two seasons. His underwhelming play as a starter has overshadowed his success and has caused him to fly under the radar.
Fulmer’s latest success might just be a flash in the pan, but it very well could be the start of something bigger. Baltimore is in the market for bullpen help, and Fulmer comes at a great price and a very high ceiling.
For that price, taking a small gamble on a player that can push you over the hump is well worth it, in my opinion.
TREY MANCINI – First Baseman/Outfielder
Come on, did you really think I could make a list like this without mentioning the hometown hero?
Trey Mancini was an Oriole with a big bat and immeasureable heart. The city fell in love with him, and he defied the odds over and over, which was why trading him away was a devastating and painful move to watch.
Mancini has hit 39 homers since returning to the field from his battle with colon cancer. He wasn’t stellar after joining the Astros, but he still provides a big bat and a spark to any linup he’s placed.
While it wasn’t his most efficient season last year, he proved he still has a lot to offer a team and at a reasonable price. The Orioles need a power bat, and Mancini can provide that.
Along with the power, he also provides a familiar face and the heart and drive to spark the city’s hope. The team and the city would feel complete to have him back, and it would provide one of the few pieces they need to be a legitimate competitor.
Bringing Trey back just feels right in more ways than one.
So there’s my five remaining free agents the Orioles should puruse. From pitching studs and rotational help to former playoff heroes and our hometown hero.
This team needs a couple more pieces to be a true contender, but this isn’t make or break. Right now, the organization needs to be smart and make moves that continue to build on the ground work they have laid down.
The organization is going down the right path, and they seem to be showing that a big move is on the horizon. It’s more likely to come in the form of a trade, but these signings could really be another difference-maker.
Who do you think the Orioles should puruse in what’s left of free agency? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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