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2018 Baltimore Orioles Season Preview

2018 Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles are headed towards a rebuild in 2018 and beyond. They finished last in the AL East with a 75-87 record in 2017 and Orioles fans shouldn’t expect their team to surpass that record in the future. Manny Machado is a free agent after this upcoming season and will most likely leave Baltimore in the off-season. Star closer Zach Britton will start the season on the DL and is a free agent after this season as well. While the Orioles will manage the ninth inning on a closer by committee basis, the pitching rotation is probably the most glaring part of the roster even with the new addition of Andrew Cashner.

Expect Big Things from Manny Machado

While the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees were in on the Machado sweepstakes this off-season, General Manager of the Orioles Dan Duquette didn’t find the right hall to pull the trigger on a trade, however, Machado could be on his way out of Baltimore regardless, as he enters free agency at the end of this season. The star infielder will command a big asking price, rumored to be in the hundred million dollar range. He’ll still be in a contract year and will look to bump his stock upon going into free agency in 2019. Machado batted .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs and 95 RBI. He will play shortstop which was his original position coming up with the Orioles.  Tim Beckham will take over at third base.

The Orioles start 2018 with no closer; Britton hurts his stock

Along with their franchise player likely leaving town after this season, Orioles closer Zach Britton will start the season on the DL with a ruptured Achilles tendon and will also be a free agent at the end of the 2018 campaign. The closer role will be run on a by-committee basis. The most probable options are Brad Brach and veteran pitcher Darren O’ Day, however, Mychal Givens is an option for closing duties as well. Baltimore’s bullpen is well equipped to recover from Britton’s injury. After Britton comes back and finishes 2018 with the Orioles, he’ll struggle in the upcoming market. While Britton was one of the top closers in the game back in 2016 but his injuries will hurt his stock come contract time.

Orioles will have inexperienced rotation in 2018

Even while the Orioles were looking like a strong team in the AL East during their 2012 run where they lost after going the distance against the Texas Rangers in the American League Divisional Series, pitching has never been a strength of theirs. Baltimore will start the 2018 season with a young inexperienced rotation with the exception of Cashner. Household names will look to set an example for the rest of the young rotation, and Chris Tillman, who has the most seasons with Baltimore, will make a personal effort to bounce back from a rough year where he posted a 7.84 ERA in 94 innings. Newly acquired Cashner, 31, will also play a veteran role in the rotation and will see some time in the bullpen if need be.

Other notable free agents

Baltimore will expect more players to exit than just Machado and Britton. After 2019, O’ Day, Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop will all become free agents. With most of Baltimore’s core players likely testing free agency in 2020, the Orioles could be searching for diamonds in the rough with their farm system in the near future.

Last Word on Baltimore

Orioles and baseball fans alike can watch the Baltimore Orioles and see the last two years of meaningful baseball in Maryland. At the start of the regular season, Machado’s likely exit is only 162 games away and more core players could be on their way out after 2019. At the start of 2020, Baltimore could be waiting for its next batch of young talent to develop and hope they strike gold and find another Manny Machadoesque player. It’ll be tough to watch the Orioles in the very near future.

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