The end to the 2016 season was just last Tuesday, however, I don’t think it’s too soon to preview the free agents that may or may not be returning to the club for 2017. With just a few weeks remaining in the 2016 Major League Baseball season, let’s take a quick glimpse at 10 players on the current Orioles roster that you may or may not have seen the last of in an Orioles uniform. As always, I encourage ANY and ALL feedback on the thoughts and opinions expressed in this post.
Brian Duensing, LHP
Duensing was signed as a free agent by the O’s back on May 25, after being released by the Kansas City Royals. In 2016, Duensing went on to appear in 14 games, while pitching to a 4.05 ERA, with 10 strikeouts. Duensing was mainly utilized in situational roles, and had a “tale of two seasons” in 2016. Prior to his elbow injury in June, Duensing pitched to a 5.40 ERA, however, after he had missed time in July, August, Duensing rebounded to pitch to a 2.70 ERA.
Will the Orioles re-sign Brian Duensing?
There won’t be a shortage of left handed bullpen arms in camp come February. Guys like Donnie Hart, T.J. McFarland, Jayson Acquino, and newly acquired Jed Bradley will make the option to re-sign Brian Duensing challenging, however the O’s could try to re-sign the 8-year veteran to help mentor, and stabilize the Orioles bullpen for 2017.
Nolan Reimold, OF/DH
Nolan Reimold just completed his second year, of his second stint with the Orioles. In his first five seasons with the O’s, Reimold slashed .252/.327/.439, with 41 homers, and 126 RBI’s in 286 total games. Of course, Reimold battled many injuries and it was felt as if we never really saw the player he could be. When the O’s re-signed Reimold on February 3, 2015, he was determined to show Birdland the player he could be when healthy. As resilient as Reimold has been, his numbers just have not lived up to expectations. In 2016, Reimold batted just .222 overall, but .183 against LHP while playing in 104 total games.
Will the Orioles re-sign Nolan Reimold?
As much as I think the Orioles would love to stick with an 11-year veteran of the organization, I don’t see Reimold returning to the club in 2017. Reimold has been converted into a platoon player for the O’s, and has only played in 165 games since re-signing with the team. With the likes of Hyun Soo Kim, and Joey Rickard, and Michael Bourn possibly battling for a corner outfield spot, there just doesn’t appear to be any room to pencil Reimold onto the 25-man roster in 2017. Of course, it is just October, and there is a LONG offseason awaiting.
Logan Ondrusek, RHP
Logan Ondrusek was signed by the Orioles in July 29, after spending the entire 2015 season with the Yakult Swallows of the Japan Central League. After appearing in 72 games in 2015, Ondrusek only pitched in 7 games with the O’s. There’s also a huge difference in ERA from 2015 to 2016, going from a 2.18 in Japan, to a ballooned 9.95 in Baltimore. In Ondrusek’s final four appearances with the Orioles, he pitched 3.1 innings, with 2 strikeouts, and an ERA of 16.20.
Will the Orioles re-sign Logan Ondrusek?
Quite frankly, I don’t see how Ondrusek wears orange and black in 2017. With his struggles in his few appearances with the ballclub in 2016, I can’t see Dan Duquette offering a contract to rejoin this team. It may be a better idea to move on from Logan Ondrusek.
Drew Stubbs, OF
Drew Stubbs had a very “on the move” year throughout 2016. In February, Stubbs was signed by the Texas Rangers. After being released a month later, he was then signed by the Atlanta Braves. Stubbs was then released by the Braves in May, and re-signed with the Rangers. Finally, after being placed on waivers in August, Stubbs was picked up by the Orioles. Designed to be a utility outfielder, Stubbs had made 13 appearances in right field, six in left field, and filled in for Adam Jones in center just once. Stubbs’ time at the plate was limited, only having 27 plate appearances, with a .136/.296/.136 slash line.
Will the Orioles re-sign Drew Stubbs?
Given that Stubbs is nothing more than a utility outfielder who hasn’t boasted any real pop in six years, and who would occasionally only start in a Sunday afternoon game, don’t place your orders for a Stubbs “18” jersey anytime soon. Unless he retains that same number somewhere else, and you’re content with duct tape, you’ll be wasting your time, and money for that matter.
Tommy Hunter, RHP
When Tommy Hunter was dealt away to the Indians in July of 2015, I remember hearing a lot of mixed reactions. From fans being happy that “home run” Hunter was gone, to fans being upset that a five year staple in the bullpen was no longer there. At the end of the day though, Hunter was re-signed by the Orioles three days after he was released from the Indians in August. Tommy Hunter appeared in 12 games for the O’s in 2016, giving up only three earned runs, while pitching to a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings. As a matter of fact, the “home run” Hunter moniker had been removed, as Hunter did not allow a homer in any of his appearances with the Orioles. Perhaps, Tommy’s most exciting moment for the Orioles in 2016 was in the clubhouse, when he rattled off the two most famous lines of the year, “Can I get two claps, and a Ric Flair”, and “How about Kevin f****** Gausman”. That “F” bomb by the way was caught on MASN television cameras. Epic.
Will the Orioles re-sign Tommy Hunter?
I like Tommy Hunter a lot, and I always have. If the Orioles wish to continue the solidarity of the bullpen, I think Hunter is one of the guys they need to re-sign this winter. In his career, as a relief pitcher, Tommy Hunter has a career ERA of 3.27. However, as nice as that sounds to have in the bullpen, the home run fear will always be there, and given that Hunter has allowed 27 of his 105 HR’s at Oriole Park at Camden Yards (27 at Globe Life Park [in Texas] as well), there’s never really a point where you can exhale with Hunter on the mound. In my honest, non-bias opinion I do believe the Orioles will try to re-sign Hunter to (at least) a 1-year deal, to help bolster the bullpen, and get another veteran right handed arm out there who can pitch a few innings if need be.
Michael Bourn, OF
The Orioles acquired Michael Bourn on August 31, when he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league outfielder, Jason Heinrich. Bourn debuted with the Orioles in left field, however, when the Diamondbacks came to Baltimore at the end of September, Bourn had been moved to right field, where he seemed to find a home for himself in Baltimore. In his time with the Orioles, Bourn batted .283, with 2 home runs, and 8 RBI’s.
Will the Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn?
Since the loss of Nick Markakis in December of 2014, the Orioles have had MANY faces in right field. As recent as Mark Trumbo, and as early as Travis Snider. In 11 seasons as an outfielder in the majors, Bourn boasts a career .990 fielding percentage, with 61 total assists, and is a two-time gold glover. Also, Bourn does bring a stolen base threat to the Orioles that has been lacking in the previous few seasons. Bourn, who will turn 34 in December, is nine stolen bases shy of 350, which is 6th on the list for most stolen bases for active players. In comparison, Ichiro leads that pack with 508. Bourn is a career .264/.328/.355 leadoff hitter, and with Buck Showalter wanting to move Adam Jones out of the leadoff spot in 2017, look for the Orioles to offer either a 1, or 2-year deal to Michael Bourn this offseason.
Steve Pearce, 1B/OF/DH
The 2016 trade deadline brought back a key piece to the Orioles AL East Championship squad back in 2014. Steve Pearce was traded from the Tampa Bay Rays, to the Orioles for minor league catcher, Jonah Heim. There were a lot of people that praised the trade, as they believed getting Pearce back would be key for the Orioles offense to regain its mojo in the second half of the season. Unfortunately, the numbers didn’t pan out for Pearce in his return (for the third time) to the Orioles roster. In 25 games, Pearce batted just .217. Many will say Pearces low average is attributed to his forearm injury that eventually landed on the 60-day DL on September 18. The following day, Pearce opted to undergo surgery to repair tendons in his right forearm.
Will the Orioles re-sign Steve Pearce?
Pearce has generally performed well for the Orioles, batting. 255 in 5 seasons with the O’s. However, now that the injury bug has bit Steve in his right forearm, one may question the durability of the 33-year old, and if he will be able to regain his confidence. With a timetable of 4-6 months for recovery, and crowded outfield positions, Pearce would return in Spring Training possibly to battle for either a 1B backup position, or everyday DH spot. Given that Pedro Alvarez may be more of a target for the O’s given his power numbers compared to Pearce, don’t expect to see WayneTwentyOcho back with the Orioles next season.
Pedro Alvarez, DH/3B
El Toro was signed as a free agent by the Orioles on March 10, 2016, in a somewhat surprising move. Okay, surprising to me because I honestly did not see it coming. Pedro Alvarez played a big part in the Orioles mashing 253 total home runs in 2016, as he hit 22 of them, including hitting five in a span of three days from August 2 through August 5. Pedro also showed that he can still play the field, albeit committing four errors in 12 games, at third base when Manny Machado moved to Shortstop in the absence of J.J. Hardy.
Will the Orioles re-sign Pedro Alvarez?
Quite frankly, unless the Orioles are willing to begin Trey Mancini’s first full season in the majors, they’ll be in the market for a designated hitter, and re-signing Pedro Alvarez may be the way to go. With a .504 slugging percentage that was good for third best for the O’s in 2016, they may wind up extending a contract Pedro’s way solely to retain his power bat. While putting up solid numbers in June, July, and August, Oriole Park at Camden Yards was very friendly for Alvarez this past summer, and a middle-to-bottom of the order power hitter is always welcomed in the power hitting American League East. With Alvarez being a client of Scott Boras though, it may be tough to pay him what Boras may believe he would be worth for years to come.
Matt Wieters, C
Matt Wieters has been a household name for the Orioles since his debut on May 29, 2009, and a lot of people forget what the backstop position was like prior to Wieters’ arrival to the big leagues. Names such as Brook Fordyce, Geronimo Gil, Javy Lopez, Sal Fasano, Paul Bako, Ramon Hernandez, and Guillermo Quiroz are names that have donned the catchers garb in seasons prior to Wieters’ arrival, but you could argue that none of those names have had a career with the Orioles as successful as Matt Wieters has. In his eight seasons with the O’s, Wieters has launched 117 home runs, hit a decent .256, and has racked up 279 total extra base hits. Behind the plate, Wieters has thrown out 33% of runners attempting to steal a base, which is 5% higher than the league average of 28%. The two-time gold glover, and four-time Orioles All-Star representative has been a staple behind the plate for the Orioles before, and after his Tommy John surgery in 2014.
The burning question… will the Orioles re-sign Matt Wieters?
Unless the Orioles offer Wieters a multi-year (three to four) deal for upwards of $20M per year, as painful as it is for me to type this, Wieters has more than likely seen the last of the home clubhouse in Baltimore. Don’t expect to see Wieters accept a qualifying offer either, which would be $16.7 million this offseason, as he is going to be one of the top catchers on the market. For the switch hitting veteran catcher who appears to be completely recovered from Tommy John surgery, this offseason is more than likely going to pay off big time, but more than likely not paid out from the Orioles.
Mark Trumbo, DH/RF
When the Orioles acquired Mark Trumbo via trade with the Seattle Mariners for catcher, Steve Clevinger, the baseball world buzzed with the possibility of how the Orioles walked away with a steal. That proved to be just the case in 2016. Trumbo hit 47 home runs, capturing the home run crown for the first time in his career, and was voted to his second All-Star game. In his seven seasons in the majors, Trumbo arguably has had the most success this season with the Orioles. With a .256/.316/.533 slash line, Mark Trumbo made an even bigger name for himself for this coming offseason, and it is expected that he is going make out very well with a team in 2017.
The biggest question of them all…. Will the Orioles re-sign Mark Trumbo?
No. Sorry. Mark Trumbo will be classified as Nelson Cruz version 2.0 for the Orioles. With the sizeable contract Trumbo is expected to receive, the Orioles just can not afford to jeopardize their future. Trumbo could very well warrant a five, or six year deal with anywhere in between $80M-$120M, however, if the Orioles were to offer this to Trumbo, you could all but imagine the possibility of retaining either Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, or both to be gone. Losing Trumbo wouldn’t hurt as bad as it could though. With guys like Machado, Davis, Jones, Schoop, and Alvarez picking up the slack, the power numbers are still going to be there for the Orioles. It honestly boils down to the question of are the Orioles going to play to win it all now, or continue to play great baseball for years to come?