Can unexpected division rival shock Yankees with free agency spending post-lockout?

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 30: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros in action against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on June 30, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TEXAS - JUNE 30: Carlos Correa #1 of the Houston Astros in action against the Baltimore Orioles at Minute Maid Park on June 30, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

Yup, this sounds insane, we know, but how much longer can the Baltimore Orioles continue on this horrid path? It needs to end soon, right? We’re looking at five straight losing seasons and three with 108 or more losses. How much longer is this rebuild going to take?

Though it seems like this is the only team the New York Yankees don’t have to worry about for the foreseeable future, it’s worth wondering if that actually might change this offseason.

Looking at the Orioles situation, they have a number of players who can hold down a roster spot with above-average play, a few promising prospects coming up in the farm system, and a TON of money to spend. According to Baseball-Reference, the O’s have $28.94 million committed to the 2022 payroll. They could add $100 million to that (4-6 star players) and still easily rank outside of the highest 10 payrolls in the league.

Additionally, this front office is made up of former Astros executives, specifically executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias, who was with Houston when they orchestrated one of the most obvious/awful yet successful tank jobs in the history of the sport. That strategy is seemingly being implemented in Baltimore.

But is it nearing its conclusion? On the surface, you’d laugh at that possibility, but what if they surround Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, John Means, and incoming prospects Adley Rutschman, DL Hall, Kyle Bradish, Mike Baumann and others with …

Carlos Correa? Carlos Rodon? Kris Bryant? Kyle Schwarber? Yusei Kikuchi? Maybe reunite with Nelson Cruz and make him your DH? We’re not saying this would make them a World Series contender, but it’d add a ton of wins and help them put pressure on the Yankees and Red Sox, both of whom might be approaching the end of an era based on potential turnover next offseason.

Can the Orioles shock the Yankees and spend a ton of money this offseason?

Time that with shifting the dimensions of Camden Yards to effectively render Gleyber Torres useless, and we’re onto something here!

There’s relatively inexpensive relief help available, too. Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley, Adam Ottavino, Trevor Rosenthal, Jake Diekman and others can be had at a decent price. Sign two or three of those guys and you’re on your way to rebuilding the bullpen.

Another aspect of this to consider: when will the Orioles have an opportunity to add this much talent via free agency with this much potential spending power? Next offseason’s crop of free agents isn’t nearly as strong as this one (though they could grab another starter and upgrade in a big way) and we’re not sure they want to wait two years to potentially acquire star players of similar caliber to what we’re looking at right now.

We haven’t forgotten it was rumored earlier this offseason that the O’s were willing to listen to trade offers for Mullins and Means, but perhaps they were just seeing if another team was willing to blow them away. In reality, all teams should be listening on any player just to see how the market could potentially be shifted.

By no means do we feel this is something to worry about, but it’s hard not to wonder when the Orioles are going to make the next move to get themselves back to respectability. They have young players on the verge of making an impact and a few potential cornerstone players. Adding to that right now with free agent signings seems like it would be the next logical step in whatever the front office’s plan is.