Orioles begin modest makeover for 2013

In the last 10 days, two of the Baltimore Orioles 2012 starters, Robert Andino and Mark Reynolds, departed. That ensures that the 2013 Orioles will look at least modestly different from last year's surprising team.

On Friday night, the Orioles announced they would not offer Reynolds a contract, making him a free agent. Their executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that the team didn't feel Reynolds was worth what he'd get in arbitration and the Orioles cut ties with him.

Reynolds could re-sign with the Orioles at a later date for a lower price, but that's unlikely. He's 29 and in a thin market for free agent first basemen, Reynolds could cash in.

The Orioles had already declined his $11 million option for 2013, but to many it's a surprise that Reynolds won't be back.

"They can do whatever they want. It's part of the business. No hard feelings," Reynolds said after the move was announced.

He clearly wanted to stay with the Orioles, and after his defense improved markedly at first in the last two months of the season, the chances for his retention looked at least fair.

Duquette was blunt on Oct. 31 when the team declined his option. "I like Mark Reynolds. We just don't like his contract," Duquette said.

On Friday night, Duquette was non-committal about whether the team would consider signing him if there's little market for Reynolds.

"We'll have to see how it develops. I appreciated his effort. I thought Mark did a nice job," Duquette said.

The Orioles will presumably move Chris Davis to first base even though manager Buck Showalter was wary of it last season. As the winter meetings begin in Nashville, Tenn. on Monday, the Orioles probably will not be serious players for big-name free agents.

They may try and package a young starter or two for a good hitter, but Duquette emphasized on Friday that the team has a budget.

"We just couldn't fit him in," Duquette said.

Andino was traded to Seattle last week for a modestly priced outfielder named Trayvon Robinson, and Duquette also picked up two young infielders, Danny Valencia and Yamaico Navarro.

Duquette has been busy so far this offseason. He picked up another second baseman, Alexi Casilla from Minnesota. The Orioles re-signed him on Friday, and he's hoping to retain Nate McLouth and Joe Saunders if the market allows him to.

If Davis moves to first, the Orioles will look to other options for designated hitter.

They could use Wilson Betemit or Valencia on occasion, but would like more punch from a DH. Manager Buck Showalter doesn't want a player who strictly hits and doesn't play the field. He felt that Vladimir Guerrero forced him to play short in 2011.

There are many fewer holes for the Orioles as they look toward 2013. If Brian Roberts is healthy, he'll play second. Otherwise, Casilla will. Manny Machado is now the third baseman and J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have shortstop, right field, center field and catcher accounted for.

If Nolan Reimold is healthy, he can play left, but they'll probably need someone else, whether it's McLouth, Robinson, prospects Xavier Avery, L.J. Hoes or a modest free agent signee. The Orioles also re-signed Lew Ford to a minor league deal and added Jason Pridie, who has major league experience, to compete for a spot.

There are lots of contenders for the starting rotation. Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman look solid. Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton and Steve Johnson could compete for the fifth spot.

Tsuyoshi Wada, who had Tommy John surgery last May, could return early in the season, and the last two No. 1 picks, Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, could factor in later next season.

With Jim Johnson, Pedro Strop, Luis Ayala, Darren O'Day, Brian Matusz and Troy Patton, the bullpen looks solid, though the Orioles insist Matusz will be given another opportunity to start.