So far this offseason, the Baltimore Orioles have laid extremely low in the race to sign premiere free agents. The only free agents that the team has signed were already with the team last year: relief pitcher Darren O’Day and catcher Matt Wieters. But now, several reports indicate that Baltimore is in play for the top remaining position-player free agents. An unusually large portion of top free agents remain available, with little to no corresponding rumors, well into January.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports links the Orioles to Justin Upton, who remains unsigned after being traded two times in the previous two years. ESPN’s Buster Olney also reports that the Orioles are in pursuit of Yoenis Cespedes, who has received a surprisingly quiet market after playing a significant role in helping lift the New York Mets to the National League pennant. CBS’ Jon Heyman also reports that the Orioles have still been in communication with another former Oriole, first baseman Chris Davis. The reports suspect that Baltimore’s supposed pursuit of both Upton and Cespedes may in fact simply be attempts to seek leverage in a more earnest pursuit of re-signing Davis.
After spending $118.2 million on team payroll last season, Baltimore currently has just $70.3 million committed towards their 2016 team, although arbitration negotiations with players like Mark Trumbo, Jonathan Schoop, and Manny Machado are still upcoming.