After several ugly seasons in Baltimore, the Orioles in 2022 recorded the franchise’s first winning season since 2016. A difficult rebuild finally bore fruit for Orioles fans, and that was on full display last year. Outfielders Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins helped carry the offense, as did AL Rookie of the Year finalist Adley Rutschman. Not to mention, the O’s saw the MLB debuts of pitching prospect DL Hall and top infield prospect Gunnar Henderson. Exciting times are ahead in Baltimore, so let’s take a look at what the Orioles did this winter to improve a very young and exciting unit.
- 2B Adam Frazier
- RHP Kyle Gibson
- RHP Mychal Givens
- OF Nomar Mazara (MiLB Deal)
- C James McCann
- LHP Cole Irvin
- RHP Andrew Politi (Rule 5)
Baltimore received production from unlikely sources in the rotation last season, and it looks like the O’s will have more options for its 2023 staff. RHP Kyle Gibson signed with Baltimore this winter, after the ex-Phillie went 14-14 with a 5.06 ERA and a 7.8 K/9 over one and a half seasons in Philly. Although the 35-year-old didn’t excel in Philadelphia after a strong run in Texas, Gibson can get outs by way of inducing chases and ground balls with an arsenal that includes a slider, cutter, fastball, and changeup. Irvin, meanwhile, will head to Baltimore after a stint with the A’s. Don’t expect much in the way of strikeouts from Irvin, but the lefty does own good control and command.
The O’s are also set to have Adam Frazier man second base in 2023. The ex-Mariner’s numbers were not spectacular in Seattle, but Frazier still made good contact at times last season. In fact, Frazier did own the eighth-highest LD% (27.8%) in baseball last season among qualified hitters. Catcher James McCann, meanwhile, comes over via trade from the Mets. As we recapped when we looked at the Mets offseason, McCann didn’t hit well at all in New York — the new Orioles catcher ranked in the bottom 25 in OPS (.610) among all players with at least 400 plate appearances from 2021-22. McCann, though, won’t be called to log regular time with the O’s next season.
Other notable additions include the return of reliever Mychal Givens, and the Rule 5 selection of former Red Sox prospect and Seton Hall product Andrew Politi. Last season with Portland (AA) and Worcester (AAA), Politi pitched to the tune of a 2.34 ERA, and struck out 83 over 69.1 innings.
With James McCann now in Baltimore, free agent catcher Robinson Chirinos most likely won’t be a part of the O’s next season. Nor will Tyler Nevin, who was dealt to the Tigers earlier in the winter. Although Nevin did draw a fair amount of walks, the ex-Oriole hit just .197 and had just six extra base hits across 184 plate appearances.
And with Adam Frazier around, a reunion with free agent Rougned Odor seems unlikely. Odor did have his moments last season, as the second baseman hit 13 home runs with the O’s last season, But, the ex-Oriole infielder posted a team-worst 79 OPS+ in 2022.
Rather than jump full steam into a major acquisition via trade of free agency to support its young core, the Mike Elias-led Orioles opted for more of a reserved offseason. Still, the O’s managed to pick up two pitchers in Irvin and Gibson that could mesh well in Baltimore. Plus, Baltimore did grab James McCann from the Mets to act as a backup for superstar Adley Rutschman . McCann didn’t hit very well at all in Queens, but a change of scenery and a new role could benefit the veteran catcher.
It will be tough to crack a playoff spot in 2023, but some good news for the O’s is that the modified schedule format does mean less games against the Rays, Blue Jays, and Yankees. If Baltimore can do its job against non-divisional opponents — which the O’s did in 2022, as the young group went 49-37 against teams outside the AL East — another season above .500 could happen.