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December 22, 2012 10:03 am

Overthinking It: The Winter's Quietest Contenders

7

Ben Lindbergh

Which of last season's contending teams have been least active this offseason, and why?

With only 50 days remaining until the first February report dates—and 100 until Opening Day—most teams have already crossed off the majority of the items on their winter to-do lists, and only a handful of the top 20 free agents are still looking for work. But while many of baseball’s best clubs have stayed busy bringing in new players or bringing back old ones, a few of the teams that made (or came close to making) the playoffs last season have been quiet. Here’s a look at four teams with more tumbleweeds than transactions this winter:

Baltimore Orioles
Biggest move they’ve made:
Re-signing Nate McLouth to a one-year contract
Why they haven’t been busier: The Orioles went from last place to the playoffs without making many major moves last winter, and they didn’t stop tinkering after Opening Day. Unlike the Yankees, who’ve spent much of the winter trying to keep or replace free agents, the O’s entered the offseason with most of their important players under team control for 2013. However, they will have to pony up for arbitration raises, which restricts their financial flexibility.
Will they wish they’d done more? The Orioles’ run differential didn’t prevent them from making the playoffs last season, but the odds aren’t good that they’ll be able to replicate their 29-9 regular-season record in one-run games. Balitmore can hope for better health and better production from their young players, but with their division rivals all active since October, the O’s run a real risk of falling prey to the Plexiglas Principle and losing ground to the teams they leapfrogged last season.
What might they still do? Last winter, Dan Duquette waited until January to sign Wei-Yin Chen and February to trade for Jason Hammel, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he took the patient approach again. This year, Joe Saunders is the most likely late entry to the rotation. It’s a long shot, but the O’s have also been linked to Adam LaRoche, who’d fit in nicely at first with Mark Reynolds off the roster.





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