One of the Orioles' immediate offseason priorities will be assessing whether they want – and have the ability – to retain any of their eight pending free agents.

After leading the majors in homers, Mark Trumbo will likely receive a $17.2 million qualifying offer. The club is still weighing whether to do the same with catcher Matt Wieters, but at this point that seems unlikely.


The Orioles have exclusive negotiating right with their own free agents for the first five days following the end of the World Series.

Among the Orioles' in-season additions, veteran outfielder Michael Bourn added the biggest spark in September after the team acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks for minor league outfielder Jason Heinrich on Aug. 31.

In 24 games with the Orioles, Bourn hit .283/.358/.435 with two homers and eight RBIs while providing corner-outfield range and speed on the base paths that the Orioles lacked. He fit into the Orioles clubhouse seamlessly and after spending time in four organizations this past season, he felt reinvigorated by being thrown into a playoff race.

During the Orioles' last regular-season series in New York, Bourn made his desire to return known.

"Of course," Bourn said when asked about whether he wanted to return. "This team has a lot of veteran leadership. They're trying to win right now. They're in that mode of playing to win. I'm thankful that they would have interest in me. That's always a plus. It's fun to be in this type of atmosphere. … It would be something that, of course, I would consider."

One of the Orioles' top offseason priorities will be acquiring an additional left-handed hitter, preferably an outfielder and one who can help raise the team's on-base capabilities. Given what he showed in his brief time in Baltimore, Bourn fits that mold.

Still, the Orioles should be careful of evaluating a player based on one month. The last time that happened was when the club acquired veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza late in the 2014 season. De Aza flourished in his first month with club. Going into 2015, his final year before free agency, he was given the starting left field job the following season, but struggled mightily and was traded on June 3 that year.

De Aza's numbers in September 2014 were similar to Bourn's. He hit .293/.341/.537 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 20 games with the Orioles. But he quickly fell out of favor in 2015, after struggling in the leadoff spot. He hit just .214/.277/.359 in 30 games before he was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

It's an interesting comparison, but the Orioles wouldn't necessarily hand a starting spot to Bourn as they did to De Aza. However, they'd definitely see him as more than a fourth outfielder because he offers an element the team didn't have for most of 2016.

Bourn, who will turn 34 on Dec. 27, isn't going to duplicate the stolen base numbers of his youth – he led the National League in steals three straight years, from 2009-11. But if he returned to the Orioles, he'd immediately be the team's top stolen base threat. While Bourn posted a .358 on-base percentage with the Orioles, his career mark is .329. But he did show the ability to work counts among a lineup of free swingers.

Defensively, Bourn owned a defensive wins above replacement (dWAR) of minus-0.2 in a small sample size. His dWAR for the season was 0.1 after posting a 0.3 mark with Arizona. But regardless, he was a major upgrade defensively in right field over Trumbo (minus-2.1 dWAR), and Bourn's addition allowed Trumbo to move into the designated hitter spot more regularly over the season's final month.

According to the Fielding Bible, Bourn owned an overall plus-5 plus/minus rating, which indicated how many plays a defender makes compared to the average fielder at his position, although he graded better in center field than either corner outfield spot.

The Orioles maintain exclusive rights to their free agents until the sixth day after the World Series, so if the club doesn't retain Bourn, it will be interesting to see his market develop.

Maybe Bourn's market develops slowly, like last year when Steve Pearce went unsigned until late January, when he signed a one-year, $4.75 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays. The Orioles never made a play for Pearce in the offseason, but were fast to re-acquire him prior to the nonwaiver trade deadline because he provided an outfield bat and on-base skills the team needed.


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