Looking at this season, Baltimore fans realized how close this team really is to the World Series. Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette did an excellent job of tweaking the roster all season, making minor moves that made a huge impact. Players like Nate McLouth, Ryan Flaherty, Omar Quintanilla and even Jason Hammel were after-thoughts when the season began; each made their mark on the roster at some point during the season.
Everyone knows the free agency history of this team; Peter Angelos will be unlikely to dole out tons of money to big name players (thanks Albert Belle). It is not probable that they will be in the sweepstakes for players like Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke. So where does the team go to fill in holes at key positions to improve upon a fantastic year in 2012? The most glaring needs after the playoff loss include: second base (with questions about Brian Roberts’ health), DH and/or first base (depending on the Mark Reynolds situation), speed on the base path and pitching depth (because there is never enough).
This is a list of 5 cost-effective options that the Orioles could string together to push this team to the next level:
5. Travis Hafner: DH (Cleveland Indians)
The Indians will not be picking up his option for $13 million and he should come relatively cheap for a big bat. He would not be asked to play every day, which in turn should actually help his production. Another big bat off the bench would really help this roster, as that was Duquette’s intentions for Thome in 2012.
4. Melky Cabrera: LF (San Francisco Giants)
After serving a 50 game suspension for PED use, Melky looks to be on the outs with the organization, not even being added to the postseason roster, even though he is eligible. He was having an All-Star season, and led the NL in batting average (he technically could have won the batting title if he did not concede to teammate Buster Posey) before his ban. He would fill a hole at the leadoff spot, allowing Markakis and Jones to bat behind him in their natural positions. He is also a decent fielder in left and should help an improving defense.
3. Orlando Hudson: 2B (Chicago White Sox)
His best years are definitely behind him, as he will be 35 before the start of next season. But he can still play defense at second base and does have above average speed. If a bleak second base market, he is the best option that may be available. He also has a lot of experience, which is an added bonus to such a young roster. He is not the long term fix, but for a team looking to make the next step quickly, could be ideal for a season or two. He does have a club option, so this will not be an option until the White Sox decide whether they want him back or not.
2. Adam LaRoche: 1B (Washington Nationals)
The Orioles actually made a strong push for him a couple seasons ago, but ended up with Derek Lee instead. He is a great defensive first baseman, while he adds left handed power to the lineup. The Nationals look like they have a logjam at first base, as it is Michael Morse’s natural position, so they may be inclined to not pick up LaRoche’s option. Though his power is very similar to Mark Reynolds, he has a better ability to hit for average, a tool this team lacked all season.
1. Gavin Floyd: SP (Chicago White Sox)
Floyd is a local guy, who has been a workhorse for most of his career. Though the starters played well above their means, he could be a welcome addition in the #2 starter role. He has avoided the DL for most of his career, while pitching deep into games consistently; something Buck looks for in his rotation. Bringing him in also gives the team an option of moving some of their other young pitchers (Britton, Arrieta) to build up the farm system. It also keeps Matusz in the bullpen, where he seemed the most comfortable and use Steve Johnson as a fill-in starter and long relief. In turn the entire pitching staff and farm system improves with one move.
1. Melky Cabrera (LF)
2. Nick Markakis (RF)
3. Adam Jones (CF)
4. Adam LaRoche (1B)
5. Chris Davis (DH)
6. Matt Wieters (C)
7. Manny Machado (3B)
8. J.J. Hardy (SS)
9. Orlando Hudson (2B)
1. Jason Hammel
2. Gavin Floyd
3. Miguel Gonzalez
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Chris Tillman