When asked on Sunday how much interest the Orioles expressed in him this offseason, A.J. Burnett told FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, “not much at all.” I just don’t understand anything about the Orioles’ plan this offseason.
It would be one thing to swing and miss on Burnett, as apparently the O’s did with Bronson Arroyo, but to not make a serious push for a the a guy that I thought was the best free agent fit in their weak starting rotation is as confusing as the rules of curling.
Oh but things get even better. Rosenthal added that the Orioles are willing to forfeit their first round draft pick for one of the remaining free agents that was given a qualifying offer (Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana, Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales). So instead of signing an underrated starter to a one year deal, they’re willing to throw away their first round pick for a lengthier, riskier contract? I’m having trouble processing all of this in my mind. It’s like thinking about infinity or the vastness of outer space, my stupid human brain just can’t comprehend it.
The Orioles have taken a lot of crap this offseason both from the fan base and the national media. Grant Balfour flunking his physical cranked up the “meddling owner” narrative once again, but many have ignored Buster Olney’s report that the O’s were concerned with his wrist and knee, not his shoulder as was previously reported. As for Tyler Colvin, the dude had his lung punctured by a broken bat in 2010, maybe the Orioles concerns were a bit reasonable.
I’m not trying to defend them on the failed physicals. I’m just saying that there are sides to the story that aren’t even being discussed.
“That’s how Peter plays general manager,” former Orioles and current Braves GM Frank Wren told the New York Times back in 2006 after the O’s nixed a deal with free agent Jeromy Burnitz due to a failed physical. “He uses medical reasons to kill or change a deal if he doesn’t like it.” Burnitz ended up signing with the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .230/.280/.422 in 111 games. During a slump in May of ’06, Burnitz apologized to reporters for not running out a ground ball and joked about some of the challenges the team would face the rest of the season. “I’m your highest-paid free agent,” he said. “That, in and of itself, should tell you the big picture that the team’s in.”
Burnitz retired in November of 2007.
As I watched the aforementioned Wren re-sign the best closer in baseball, Craig Kimbrel, to a four-year, $42 million contract, I thought about how nice it must be to root for a team to invests in their young talent after having a slow offseason on the free agent market. After signing B.J. Upton to a hefty five-year, $72.25 million contract last winter, the Braves had been relatively quiet this year — until recently. Freddie Freeman inked an eight-year, $135 million deal earlier in February, his teammate Jason Heyward re-signed at two-years for $13.3 million. Andrelton Simmons may be next.
As disappointing as the Orioles offseason has been, how quickly could they turn things around if they re-sign Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis? Fans would go from furious to delighted faster than Steelers fans jumped on the Seahawks bandwagon after the first quarter of the Super Bowl.
Yeah, but the Orioles will never do that right?
Wrong, actually. Six-years, $66 million. Four-years, $40 million. Three-years, $22 million. Six-years, $85.5 million. Those are the extensions that Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones have signed with the O’s over the past several seasons. No reason to think a few more couldn’t be in the works, right?
I sure hope so.
Disgruntled Braves fans have been singing the team’s praises for doing nothing more than keeping their own guys. Now that should become the Orioles main priority.