The 2018 Orioles were bad. They were not only bad, but really, really bad. Baltimore finished in last place in the American League East with a 47-115 record, eleven games worse than the second-to-worst Royals, and were basically out of the playoff race by Memorial Day.
With new General Manager Mike Elias taking over for Dan Duquette, the former Astros front-office executive has his work cut out for him. Elias’ first order of business was replacing veteran skipper Buck Showalter, and they landed former Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde to take over the reigns in the clubhouse.
Obviously, the Orioles will not be competitive in the American League in quite some time, so their rebuild continues into 2019 (and 2020...and probably 2021). In 2019, we will continue to see the the steady ‘sell-sell-sell’ mantra of 2018. To that end, the most important acquisition of the offseason is Elias, who oversaw the Astros tear-down and rebuild.
Elias is well-qualified to oversee the Baltimore rebuild, as he accompanied Jeff Luhnow from St. Louis to Houston, and oversaw amateur scouting in his first role with the Astros. Elias is credited with scouting and drafting Carlos Correa, one of the key pieces to the Astros recent success.
Last season, Baltimore divested themselves of stars Manny Machado and Zach Britton, as well as good pieces Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, and a pile of minor leaguers. While they got plenty of young talent (including several lottery ticket prospects that have yet to prove much), they still have to field a major league 25-man roster.
Not one Baltimore player is projected to garner more than 1.9 fWAR per FanGraphs projections, and the position players topping the list are Renato Nunez and Cedric Mullens II (of course!). Still, Jonathan Villar is a home run threat who could be traded to a team that needs some power, and a hot-reliever always commands some type of market. Mychal Givens’ 25 percent strikeout rate could be attractive to a team making a playoff run.
It’s going to be ugly in near-term for the Orioles, who are coming off the franchise’s worst season since the beginning of World War II, a year in which the St. Louis Browns went 43-111.
FanGraphs Depth Charts projects the O’s for a 62-100 record and for them to repeat as the worst team in baseball. As bad as that looks, BP’s PECOTA projections show an even more abysmal projection of 57-105. Remarkably, both would be a decent improvement over 2018.
It’s going to be a long, humid, summer in Baltimore. Consider no previous mention of Chris Davis an early Spring Training favor.