The Orioles’ rebuild came to a definitive end with this year’s 101-win season, and general manager Mike Elias is already speaking accordingly as he enters his sixth offseason with the team. Elias tells Mark Feinsand of MLB.com that adding a starting pitcher who “projects for the front half of the rotation would be wonderful” and that he also hopes to add a late-inning reliever — ideally someone with closing experience.
The free-agent market isn’t short on either type of pitcher. Playoff-caliber starters in free agency include Blake Snell, Sonny Gray, Aaron Nola, Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito and Marcus Stroman, to say nothing of incoming NPB stars like 25-year-old righty Yoshinobu Yamamoto and 30-year-old lefty Shota Imanaga.
Currently, the Orioles’ rotation is set to include Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez and Dean Kremer. Assuming he’s back to health after a lengthy recovery from Tommy John surgery, southpaw John Means should slot into the group. Other options include Tyler Wells, DL Hall, Cole Irvin, Bruce Zimmermann and prospect Cade Povich (who’s not yet on the 40-man roster but will surely be added by next week). Baltimore starters ranked 11th in the Majors with a 4.14 ERA this year — a mark that includes results from current free agents Kyle Gibson and Jack Flaherty.
As far as relievers go, former O’s prospect Josh Hader tops the class and could set a record for largest contract ever given to a reliever. Beyond him, former closing options on the market include David Robertson, Jordan Hicks, Aroldis Chapman, Hector Neris and Craig Kimbrel.
The trade market, of course, will feature prominent names in both regards, but the Orioles’ payroll is practically a blank slate, which gives them the opportunity to pursue just about any pitcher — assuming ownership is willing to commit to a long-term free agent for the first time in Elias’ tenure. Incredibly, James McCann and Felix Bautista — owed a combined $3.5MM in 2024 — are the only two players guaranteed any money this coming season.
Of course, the Orioles also have a deep and talented arbitration class. Each of Anthony Santander, John Means, Danny Coulombe, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Ryan O’Hearn, Dillon Tate, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Cionel Perez, Cole Irvin, Keegan Akin, Jacob Webb, Ramon Urias, Tyler Wells, Ryan McKenna and recent waiver claim Sam Hilliard is eligible for arbitration. That whopping group of 17 players projects to…