Should the Orioles move Manny Machado back to shortstop in 2015?
The now impending surgery changes this answer a bit. It may be hard for a position change with a possibly limited Spring Training. However, I think this more depends upon what the Orioles do with J.J. Hardy. If Hardy is brought back then I would assume that Manny would stay at third base. Manny definitely has the chops to play shortstop and would probably provide more value there with his bat and his glove. Also, Machado is a large kid already at 22 and may only thicken out as he ages. If that happens, he may have to go back to third anyways. Also, his glove at third may be the best in baseball, if he moves to shortstop that may no longer be the case.
– Alex Conway
Will the Orioles extend JJ Hardy and/or Nelson Cruz a qualifying offer?
The qualifying offer for next year will be a little over $14 million so there is some risk there if either one of them accepts. If either of them accepts they would be one of the highest paid player on the roster. First, I think the Orioles will extend a qualifying offer to J.J. Hardy. Shortstops are in high demand and even with his power decline, his glove has been fantastic and he still puts up enough offense to be a plus. I think it will be pretty easy for Hardy to find a three year deal so there is basically no chance he will accept the offer and the Orioles can get back one of those draft picks they gave away. Second, Nelson Cruz which is a much murkier situation. Cruz had a hot start, but was cool for a couple of months but is turning it on again. He is 34 and him finding a multi-year deal after he could not last off season seems unlikely. He can’t field and if the bat gets much worse he’ll lose any value he has. I really don’t know what the Orioles will do, but if it were up to me I would extend the offer to him. I think he will seek another multi year deal and he could find a DH spot somewhere. If that happens, it is another draft pick, which would give the team a potential 5 in the top 100 picks. If he does accept the offer then he is a decent player at not that high of a free agent price.
– Alex Conway
When will the Orioles make Steve Johnson a full-time reliever?
I think he was realistically already this anyways. It is easier to turn a starter into a reliever rather than the opposite. Johnson does not have the stuff or command to consistently start in the majors. His FB was 86-89 when I saw him rehabbing in Aberdeen, and that is not too far off what he usually sits at. Velocity is not everything, but his command is not always even average. That is a tough formula to start with. He is more of an org depth guy or swingman type for me.
– Tucker Blair