By Ryan Decker
As most you saw Tuesday night, the Baltimore Orioles season did not end in a very positive way.
If you were unable to catch the game, or weren’t on Twitter in the moments following, all you need to know is that Buck Showalter not putting Zach Britton into the AL Wild Card game was the best example of misjudgment in a big moment by a head coach/manager since Pete Carol decided to not give the ball to Marshawn Lynch in the Super Bowl.
Regardless, what’s done is done. There’s nothing Orioles fans can do to go back and change what happened.
With the season over in Baltimore, it’s time to begin looking at the offseason that lies ahead for the team from the Charm City.
Below are my six keys to the offseason for the Orioles:
1. Re-sign Mark Trumbo
With early offseason exit Baltimore can get first crack at Mark Trumbo.
The new contract shouldn’t be long term, noting more than four years.
Trumbo is 30 years-old, so still technically within the confines of the prime of his career, and he did just have the best season of his seven-year career.
He’s a great pairing with Chris Davis and Manny Machado near the middle of the lineup and he’s a versatile enough guy defensively that he’s not limited to just one position.
Obviously after the season he had, he’s a great fit for hitter-friendly Camden Yards, as well.
2. Find a starting pitcher
Baltimore needs to be an ace.
Chris Tillman has served as the defecto ace for the Orioles for too long.
This winter, Dan Duquette and the rest of the front office needs to get an ace, or above average No. 2 that can be paired with the good young arms of Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy but that would also work well to balance experience with Tillman.
A lefty would be great!
Disclaimer: Please don’t let whoever has been in charge of signing pitchers anywhere near a phone this offseason.
Jeremy Hellickson appears to be the top free agent starting pitcher. Although he’s not a lefty, he does have the ability to become an ace, and he showed that this year pitching well on a bad Phillies team.
Second disclaimer: This year’s free agency pool is pretty bleak as far as starting pitchers go. So, Baltimore could need to find that ace via a trade.
3. Work out a long-term deal with Manny Machado
Manny Machado is one of the best young players in baseball. Maybe other than Mike Trout in Los Angeles, Machado is the best young player in baseball.
He is arbitration-eligible this offseason and next before he hits free agency after the 2018 season.
Don’t let him get there.
Work out the deal now!
Don’t let this become a distraction down the road, and something that could rub the whole team the wrong way. Lock him up long term now and give Baltimore fans assurance that there is winning in the long-term future of this team.
4. Get rid of unneeded players
Teams deal with this situation every offseason. There are obvious moves that need to be made, and then there are less-obvious moves that probably hould be made.
Ubaldo Jimenez and Nolan Reimold are at top of the list of players to let go. For Jimenez, Tuesday night was the epitome of his career in Baltimore, and Reimold is a guy that the franchise has failed to let go for too long. He’s a prospect that never panned out, somewhat due to injuries, but he’s a guy that’s been in Baltimore too long.
In the less-obvious category is catcher Matt Wieters.
Let Wieters walk. If needed, take the risk with the qualifying offer because I don’t think he’s coming back regardless.
Caleb Joseph and Chance Sisco are more than capable replacements for him – Joseph has been at the major league level for a few years now; Sisco a prospet that has shown a lot of progress at the Minor League level.
5. Find a leadoff hitter
Baltimore thought they found a leadoff hitter last winter with Dexter Fowler. But in the 11th hour he decided to head back to the Windy City for one more year.
Ian Desmond could also be a fix.
Adam Jones isn’t a leadoff hitter. Neither is Machado or most other players on Baltimore’s roster.
It’s a problem that’s faced this team since Brian Roberts left after 2013, and even before his departure he was faltering in the leadoff role.
Good teams have good leadoff hitters.
6. Don’t make any stupid moves
Sounds pretty cut and dry but O’s fans know this isn’t as easy as it sounds. That’s why this is a key point on my list.
Don’t pay a pitcher that’s over the hump of his career big money.
Don’t trade away half the farm system for a guy who hasn’t played well in two years.
The way the team is constructed, Baltimore can continue to be contenders if the right moves are made. However, one or two bad moves can ruin the whole thing. This is a crucial offseason.