Orioles manager Buck Showalter led the Orioles to success as part of a wave taking over the game that emphasize bullpen usage and defense. That the rest of the league caught up and passed them on that front doesn't take away from the success it brought.
The gulf between where the Orioles are now and where they were — when Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy were winning Gold Glove Awards on the left side and Jonathan Schoop was using one of the game’s strongest infield arms at second base — is vast.
The Orioles have used deferred money in their long-term free agent contracts for five offseasons. It was used to entice Alex Cobb this year, and the money saved on present commitments with deferred money was used toward his 2018 salary.