Almost a full month after they dismissed executive vice president Dan Duquette and manager Buck Showalter, ushering in a new era of Orioles baseball once new hires are made, what that means for the offseason is only now coming into focus.
The team's addition of right-hander Branden Kline to the 40-man roster Tuesday was the first step in that, and a feel-good one. The checkpoints will be coming hot and heavy over the next few weeks — activating players off the 60-day disabled list and making room for them back on the 40-man roster; adding players to keep them from the Rule 5 draft; tendering contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
And considering the wide-ranging implications of the Orioles' front-office and on-field management search, it all rings a little more hollow than it would when the team is searching for every advantage or edge in a competitive offseason.
For instance, with the roster additions like Kline's, much of the team's work in protecting players from the Rule 5 draft was done in-season when the likes of Luis Ortiz, Josh Rogers and Cody Carroll were added. All that's left now is Dillon Tate, and they'll probably have plenty of ways to add him to the roster.
Same goes for Mark Trumbo, Austin Hays, Richard Bleier, Pedro Araujo and Gabriel Ynoa, who need to be added back to the roster by 5 p.m. Friday. The players who come off the roster for them will feel like an insignificant transaction in comparison to the need to select leaders for the organization and begin the big business everyone is waiting for.
Maybe by the time the Orioles need to decide whether to tender a contract to someone like Tim Beckham by Nov. 30, it'll be the new baseball chief making these decisions. He or she will have a staff to fill out, too, as the team has trimmed some of its scouting and operations staff ahead of contracts expiring Wednesday. And then there’s all the macro-level decisions they’ll be entrusted with.
But in an offseason defined by little milestones on the road to spring training, perhaps the Orioles are fortunate to have a chance to make significant impacts and not just check off minor boxes as the offseason progresses.
Important offseason dates
Nov. 2 — Deadline for teams to extend qualifying offer to own free agents, 5 p.m.
Nov. 12 — Deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offer, 5 p.m.
Nov. 30 — Nontender deadline
Dec. 9-13 — Winter meetings in Las Vegas
Dec. 13 — Rule 5 draft
Feb. 13 — Pitchers and catchers report to spring training
Feb. 18 — Full team reports to spring training