The New York Yankees might've had their worst season in the modern era while the upstart Baltimore Orioles had their best ... but did it really matter? The Yanks didn't make the playoffs, but the O's sputtered out in the ALDS when they were outmatched by the Texas Rangers. Swept!
And would you look at that ... the Yankees have only been overshadowed by the Dodgers this offseason in terms of headline-grabbing, impact moves. Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo are now in the Bronx, with hopefully more to come, whenever that may be.
In Baltimore, the Orioles have signed Craig Kimbrel while watching Kyle Gibson, Jack Flaherty and Jorge Lopez leave. Don't let Kimbrel's numbers fool you, either. He can't possibly be deemed a difference-maker. He's one of the most shaky high-leverage relievers in the game.
The O's aren't fully to blame for the lack of additions/movement. Both the free agent and trade markets have been historically slow, and everyone's fallen victim to what's happening. But it's also a possibility nothing would be different in Baltimore if that weren't the case?
If we're to believe Baseball America senior writer Kyle Glaser (and other reporters out their saying something similar), the Orioles' ownership is playing a role in potentially killing this fortuitous window.
Are Orioles letting Yankees off the hook thanks to frugal ownership?
The time is quite literally now to spend for the Orioles, who have a core of young, cheap, controllable players that every other franchise would kill for. What was the point of tanking for all those years if you're not going to supplement this group?
Realistically, the O's were never going to be in on names like Shohei Ohtani or Yoshinobu Yamamoto, but how could Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery not be part of the conversation right now? They have a golden opportunity to add to their $77 million (!!) payroll that just won 101 games and seemingly have no interest in doing so.
It gets worse, though. Glaser doesn't cite top free agent spending as the primary problem here. He was actually referring to the organization being hesitant taking on the remaining money owed to Dylan Cease and Corbin Burnes -- in the event they traded for either of them -- as a potential roadblock. As Glaser noted, the Orioles have the prospect capital to acquire both, and it wouldn't really hurt them!
If they managed to pull that off, they'd owe a total of $24 million to the two pitchers in 2024, plus another ~$13 million to Cease in 2025. We're talking about a few million above the qualifying offer for two ace-caliber pitchers (should they properly unlock Cease's arsenal). If that's actually a worry of theirs, the Orioles might be the preeminent "poverty" franchise.
The Orioles have an opportunity to steal multiple trade targets from the Yankees without spending a prohibitive amount of money and directly block what could be a one-and-done year for the Bombers in 2024. And there's real chatter about $24 million holding them back from doing so.
If true, the Yankees might dodge a bullet that otherwise would've impaled them for the better part of a decade.