In 2022, we saw the Orioles put together a season much better than what many expected.
Their loaded farm system talent was bound to translate to the big leagues eventually, but fans got their turn-around a little sooner.
After a surprise season ended with the team just barely missing out on an AL Wild Card birth, fans were hoping to see the organization spend some cash and make some bigger moves. The organization historically isn’t known to spend big, but fans stayed optimistic nonetheless.
The O’s haven’t made any major moves that burned the check books, but they have still made moves that improved the roster from last year. They still have time to make more moves, but for now, let’s recap and grade the moves they have been made to this point.
PITCHERS: Kyle Gibson, Mychal Givens, Andrew Politi
The 2022 Orioles bullpen was solid all season long, but it’s clear that pitching is what the team needs.
Common sense tells us that the guys are set for a bit of a return to Earth, especially with John Means still recovering from elbow surgery. Plus, they lost Jordan Lyles when he signed a two-year deal with the Kansas City Royals.
Adding Kyle Gibson surely isn’t enough to bring the club where they need to be, but for me, Mychal Givens is the better of the three additions.
Givens might not be the polarizing ace the fans are craving, but he’s a durable and consistent pitcher that really makes a strong impact in the back end of the pen.
Gibson ended last season with a 5.05 ERA over 31 starts. Those aren’t numbers that are impressive enough to get excited about, but he basically fills the hole that Lyles’ departure left behind, and both players bring a strong sense of leadership and experience that can work wonders for a pitching staff.
Andrew Politi was more of a depth move for the team. He was chosen from the Red Sox organization in the major league phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
He will slot in as a middle reliever for the team and should provide at least some depth to the bullpen with the potential for something even bigger if he makes the 26-man roster out of spring training.
Ultimately, losing Lyles hurts because of his popularity with the rest of the club, but they brought back even more. The pitching staff has improved but certainly not as much as we all had hoped.
This offseason will be a bit of disappointment if they don’t make a big time trade for a high-quality starter, but they have improved nonetheless.
CATCHER: James McCann
This was one of my favorite moves of the offseason up to this point. Last season, Robinson Chirinos offered Adley some solid mentoring and leadership, but he didn’t have much left to offer to the team as a whole.
Now, with a strong season under Adley’s belt, the O’s needed a player who has more to offer in his bat and behind the plate. That’s why James McCann was acquired.
McCann is practically a perfect fit for this role. He was an All-Star during the 2019 season, and he still has a lot to offer.
He would, without a doubt, be a starter on plenty of other teams. The Orioles are also only responsible for $5 million of the $24 million left on his contract that runs through 2024.
McCann said he would embrace the mentorship role with Adley, as they also look to rotate between first base and DH. Ultimately, this was a great move made by the Orioles.
INFIELD: Adam Frazier, Lewin Díaz, Ryan O’Hearn, Josh Lester
The Orioles ultimately let Rougned Odor go as a free agent, and fans might just agree that this was the right move.
Fans grew very tired of watching his inconsistent struggles. He had his moments but ultimately wasn’t doing enough to warrant re-signing.
Tyler Nevin ultimately lost his roster spot and got sold to the Detroit Tigers. Ryan O’Hearn was acquired from the Royals but was designated for assignment to make room for Lewin Díaz, who has been tossed around more than a bowl of pasta.
The Orioles had one major need, and that was bringing in someone who could act as an upgrade to Odor at second base. O’s GM Mike Elias went out and signed Adam Frazier, who just had an All-Star season in 2021.
Frazier’s career .273 average is a very nice number on paper, and he provides a consistent on-base presence. However, he spent last season in Seattle with a measly .238 average and a putrid .612 OPS.
Elias brought Frazier to the Orioles on a one-year, $8 million deal and are hoping to see him rebound and bring some of what he did in 2021 to the second base position this season. Frazier had a good price tag, and he could be just what the team needs for 2023.
Mix Frazier in with the addition of another young player with power potential in Josh Lester, and the O’s made solid improvement to their infield depth.
OUTFIELD: Nomar Mazara, Franchy Cordero, Daz Cameron
Ultimately, this position group will be kept short. The O’s didn’t add much to the outfield depth, but then again, they didn’t really need to.
This group is strong from a major league standpoint. The front office didn’t have a need to add much to this position group.
They did add some younger, low-risk options in Daz Cameron, Nomar Mazara and Franchy Cordero, each having some potential that could help add some depth and give the team options at the Triple-A level.
These moves were nothing more than adding minor league options that could see time in lineups as DH guys against right-handed pitchers. It’s nothing flashy or big, but it’s something all good teams have: depth.
Ultimately, the Orioles haven’t been nearly as flashy and aggressive as fans wanted them to be this offseason. It also provided some exceitement that insiders were connecting the Orioles with almost every big-name free agent on the market.
It has a lot of people excited, but only to be left disappointed by the rumored overhype of these speculated moves. There’s still signs of big moves, possibly in the near future, but probably not as quickly as the more impatient fans would hope.
The Orioles have shown a similar blueprint to the one the Houston Astros followed in their rebuild. I hate to speculate and provide what-ifs, but the Astros have been a spectaular team that makes deep playoff runs every year, including two World Series Championships.
Hopefully, the Orioles will bypass a cheating scandal.
OVERALL OFFSEASON GRADE: B
I think this team is well on it’s way to success, and it could be long-lasting. I look for the team to make a considerable trade later on, but so far, the organization is improving piece-by-piece.
What do you grade the Orioles’ offseason thus far? 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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