The Baltimore Orioles‘ outlook remains bleak. The 2019 season was brutal, as they racked up 108 losses. That was, at least, an improvement on the 115 tallied in 2018.
Mookie Betts has left the division at least, but the Toronto Blue Jays are trending upwards and the New York Yankees added Gerrit Cole. The Tampa Bay Rays are destined for wildcard contention once again. Losing fewer than 100 games would be a success for the Orioles, such is the lack of talent on their Major League roster.
Bleacher Report put the Orioles as the 11th-best farm in MLB at the end of 2019. Baseball America adjudged them to have five top-50 prospects, though, with Rutschman the first player since Bryce Harper to debut in the top five.
The Davis predicament
Chris Davis is bad. His wRC+ was 58 in 2019 and 44 in 2018. He is pocketing $23 million per season for three more years. Understandably, the Orioles haven’t just released him, and are crossing fingers and toes hoping he can be productive. Or they just don’t feel like it’s an issue while they’re losing so many games.
There’s truth in that. Trey Mancini has to play outfield because of Davis’ presence, but it’s not like those runs lost are actually going to change anything. Davis isn’t blocking wildly exciting talent either.
Moving Davis on, and ultimately finishing his career, would allow Baltimore to try guys in the outfield, however. Hitters like Mike Yastrzemski, perhaps, who they dealt to the Giants for Tyler Herb before he posted a 121 wRC+.
The dark days of a rebuild are to learn about what you’ve got. The Orioles need to find players who could help their next half-decent team. Davis isn’t going to be on that.
Where are the positives?
With Bundy and Cashner gone, the Orioles’ pitching will likely be worse than last year when they gave up the most homers by any team in the history of baseball. Alex Cobb, despite a horrid two seasons in Baltimore, could bounce back, and he might be worth something at the trade deadline.
There’s upside in the bullpen. Some of those arms should be traded in July to add prospects. The Orioles are a long way from being good – bolstering the farm has to be the priority.
Ryan Mountcastle and Yusniel Diaz enjoyed solid seasons in AAA and AA respectively. The pair should see plenty of time in the Majors in 2020. Austin Hays is a player with potential to be a useful starting outfielder. Dean Kremer will get a chance to make his Major League debut.
Rumours of a Mancini trade are inevitable – the Orioles should see if they can generate a bidding war if he produces like he did in 2019.
The positives are limited, but there’s some young talent coming through that could be a part of the next Orioles team that has a chance of contending.
Baltimore’s rebuild has a way to go yet, and they are short on trade assets. Hopefully the farm can begin to produce Major League talent.