2. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles entered the Winter Meetings needing to land a right fielder, a DH, and a catcher for next season. At the end of the week, they have filled none of those needs while watching the Boston Red Sox trade for Chris Sale and make a few more key improvements. If the championship window was already closing in Baltimore, it is now about to slam shut with an emphatic THUD!
The most puzzling thing to come out of the Winter Meetings for the Orioles was Dan Duquette’s insinuation that he had no interest in signing Jose Bautista to play right field or DH simply because Orioles fans do not like the braggadocios slugger. Duquette kept doubling down on the comments all week, as if he couldn’t get enough of his own little joke at Bautista’s expense. While it may be true that O’s fans have more than a strong dislike for Joey Bats, they would accept him with open arms in a black and orange jersey. What Duquette said in so many words is that the Orioles are looking at another low-budget offseason.
Baltimore is essentially playing for the Wild Card next season and beyond with the Red Sox the clear-cut favorite in the division and league. The Orioles have two more years with their current core before Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Zach Britton, and Chris Tillman enter free agency. It is painfully clear that either ownership or the front office is simply not willing to spend what it takes to keep pace with the Red Sox and push this team to the next level. Encarnacion is out there just waiting to be scooped up. Same goes for Bautista or Mike Napoli, but the Orioles appear destined to end up with Chris Carter and Angel Pagan.