The Orioles have definitely made some "now" moves this year. Many posters are constantly talking about going for it now and next year because the team ONLY has a two year window. I have never really bought into that theory, not to say that I had a problem with signing Jimenez and Cruz and giving up the picks. I didn't. Of course, it's tough to predict what this team will look like in two years but my feeling is that we will have a very solid nucleus heading into the 2016 season.
1B- This is probably the biggest question for me. Chris Davis is a difference maker. He was the straw that stirred the drink last year. An impact offensive player. We don't know if he'll be here for the 2016 season. We'll tackle this one last.
The rest of the infield - It remains to be seen what we have here but we certainly have 2 very promising players in Schoop and Machado who have 5 and 6 years of service time left. This year, we find out if Flaherty is a utility guy or a prime time player. If he's a prime time player, we have 3 young middle infielders, all with at least 3 years of service time left after this season, meaning Flaherty can't be a FA until after the 2017 season.
Probably the second biggest question after 1B. It sure looks like Wieters will be gone after the 2015 season. His durability, solid defense, and decent offense (for a catcher) will be missed. The question of his replacement is in great question. Steve Clevenger is at least interesting to say the least. Is he just a backup. Could he be a place holder for a year or two until someone like Sisco or Heim is ready? Michael Ohlman is a top ten prospect. He's coming off of a standout season in high A ball and in the Arizona Fall League. His offense will be tested in AA this year. If his offense passes the test, there's a good chance he'll be ready for the 2016 season. The next question is where would he fit, catcher or possibly 1B. If it's catcher, then you have Clevenger and Ohlman as a possible platoon in Ohlman's rookie season.
Who's gonna be here in 2 years? We know Adam Jones is signed through 2018. David Lough does not even have one full year of service time. If Lough proves to be an everday player, you have a LF going forward. Another big question to be answered this year. RF in 2 years? Could be Markakis. Could be Urrutia? Could be Dariel Alvarez? At least, I think we'll have options there.
Staring Pitching -
Tillman isn't a FA until after the 2017 season.
Same for Miguel Gonzalez. Same for Ubaldo Jimenez.
Gausman certainly looks like he'll be in there somewhere. That's 4 starters right there. Then you have Dylan Bundy, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Hunter Harvey, who could very close by then. Nothing is for certain but the pitching could certainly be in good shape heading into the 2017 season and this is not considering any trades or FA signings.
If we just look at our current bullpen, we have a decent amount of pitchers with plenty of service time left. Zach Britton (5), Brad Bach (5), Josh Stinson (6), Steve Johnson (5), McFarland (5), Evan Meek (3). We also have the inevitability of converted starters from the minors. Prime candidates will be Mike Wright and Tim Berry.
1B - Back to the 1B question. Obviously, no one can replace 40-50 homes and 130 RBI. We don't know if Chris Davis can do that in 2 years but he looks to be the only one capable of such numbers. We do not have any power prospects to speak of. Christian Walker could be a solid hitter with moderate power. Ohlman, if he can't stick at catcher, could be an interesting offensive player. Either way, Chris Davis's replacement, whether through the farm system, trade, or FA, won't be able to replicate his 2013 season. The good news is that the rest of the infield is potentially one of the best and most powerful in the majors if we look into the future a little.
There are lots of questions but there are some answers already on the team and in the system. I don't see an Armageddon in two years. I see the potential for a good run of contending teams. For sure, 2017 could be a huge transitional year but I don't see it as an END of anything.
Visit the Orioles Hangout Message Board