I'd stay away from free agents tied to draft pick compensation and/or long-term contracts. It seems like contracts above three years rarely work out honestly. If I was truly the GM, I would push for the trading of Chris Davis. DD seems to believe a mid-market team does not need a strong farm system to succeed in the consistently toughest division in baseball. I'm a conservative imaginary GM, so I generally believe
1. Let prospects season in the minors(nearly one year at every affiliate)
2. Use what the farm system gives you. In other words, if a minor league player performed well at AAA, utilize him on the major league roster. There is no need to spend money of a free agent that may or may not be an upgrade over what you already have.
3. Don't make stupid rental trades for the present. Also, don't make emotionally backed knee-jerk reactionary transactions.
Trading Chris Davis would shape the entire off-season differently. But, if that move isn't going to happen, this is what Baltimore needs;
1- a second baseman. Flaherty can't hit LHP, hasn't hit in AAA, hasn't hit in the majors, and the Orioles would be minimizing a valuable, versatile asset by restricting him to second base. Let him be the every day super-utility man for the Tides. Schoop isn't ready and should be Norfolk's everyday second baseman. My solution; sign Kelly Johnson to a two year deal. He has equal splits, plays above average defense, has a little speed, and is versatile. He can hold down second base until Schoop is ready. At that point, transition him to Baltimore's utility.
2-a left fielder. LJ Hoes
would have slid into this role perfectly. But no, DD needed a #5 starter. Henry Urrutia
probably could use more time with Norfolk. Steve Pearce is not a regular, but is a solid complementary piece. My solution; sign David Murphy to a one year deal. He plays average defense, has a little speed, and hit .283/.346/.449 from 2008 to 2012. He's a perfect bounce-back candidate IMO.
3- a starter. Chris Tillman, Wei Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, and Bud Norris will fill out the first four spots of the rotation. The fifth spot must be filled, and necessary depth must be acquired. Kevin Gausman
and Mike Wright
are not ready, while Josh Stinson, Steve Johnson, and TJ McFarland
should not be counted on for original starting options. My solution; sign a low-cost starter, short-term deal with a bounce back starter like Ryan Vogelsong or Chris Capuano. Suk Min Yoon would also be on my radar, although he doesn't really fit the description above. So, sign one of those three, while also signing Tsuyoshi Wada and Shaun Marcum. One of Vogelsong, Capuano, or Moon will fill the 5th spot, while Wada fills the fifth spot in Norfolk's rotation, and Marcum provides depth for both. We all know a team rarely gets through the whole year with five starting pitchers.
4. a DH. It would be a shame to waste Steve Pearce's or Danny Valencia's quality hitting against LHP, so all Baltimore really needs is a left handed complement. A radical solution would be to acquire another backup catcher, and let Steve Clevenger
hit against RHP. Wilson Betemit would come cheap as a DH against RHP. Mike Morse would be a perfect bounce back candidate, even though he does not fit the description of a left handed DH.
Additional bench roles and relief pitchers will need to be brought in, but that can be done through minor league deals.