If you are the Orioles, do you say let's go for it all or let's rebuild the farm system?
It is something that the Orioles have seemed to have a struggle with for years.
At the beginning of the offseason, the Orioles were not willing to give up draft picks -- the club treasured them. But when February rolls around and there are quality players still on the market for whatever reason, most likely them being tied to a compensation draft pick, thanks to the qualifying offer, the Orioles are finally willing to give up draft picks that they once valued.
This year the Orioles are looking to add a starter and a right fielder. Yovani Gallardo, who the Orioles are currently working on a deal with, and Dexter Fowler are two players that they are targeting. While both would provide an upgrade for the Orioles in both their rotation and lineup, is it worth giving up the 14th and 28th pick in the draft?
Note: The Orioles currently hold the 29th pick in the draft. However, if the club signs Gallardo, and their 14th pick is removed, their 29th overall pick gets bumped to 28th.
Fans may say that it is worth giving up the picks to get two players who can help the Orioles win now. They may also bring up the point that the Orioles have a history of poor drafting and poor development, meaning that giving up two picks for two major-league players is worth it in the long run.
The Orioles currently have six of the first 91 picks in the 2016 MLB Draft. Signing Gallardo and/or Fowler would eliminate the 14th overall pick in the draft, as well as potentially the 28th. Six picks in the top 100 looks a lot better than four.
These six picks could help improve a farm system that is ranked 27th by ESPN’s Keith Law in hisFarm System Rankings.
Yes, the Orioles could could get all six picks wrong and they could draft players that are all busts. Yes, prospects are rarely sure things. Even sure things sometimes become busts -- O's fans know this.
However, the Orioles cannot continue losing draft picks. In February of 2014, the Orioles lost two draft picks after signing both Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. That did help them to their first ALCS appearance since 1997, but they lost out on the chance of having two potential high-end prospects in their farm system.
Multiple years of forfeiting draft picks could cost the Orioles in the long run. One can argue that if the Orioles successfully draft in later rounds then it will not be a problem losing two draft picks in the first round. And I do kind of agree with that.
Gallardo would become the de-facto ace of the Orioles' rotation. At least that is what the Orioles expect of him. However, Gallardo has shown a regression in the past few seasons that would scare me if I were the Orioles. His K/9 has started rapidly decreasing since his 2012 season:
- 2012: 9.00 K/9
- 2013: 7.17 K/9
- 2014: 6.83 K/9
- 2015: 5.91 K/9
The funny thing is, Gallardo reminds me of someone who would pitch for the Orioles, or at least make it a season in their rotation. Gallardo can make 30 starts a year and has shown he can consistently outperform his FIP.
The Orioles are working on a deal with Gallardo that is reportedly in the neighborhood of three years and $40-$45 million. While I think that is an overpay, especially with losing the 14th pick as well, it shows the Orioles are willing to spend money. If they want to spend the money, good for them.
As far as Fowler goes, I actually like him considerably more than I like Gallardo. The Oriolesreportedly would be interested in signing Fowler to a deal that is similar to Howie Kendrick's two-year, $20 million deal that he signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Fowler would bring a top of the order presence that the Orioles need. Owning a career .363 on-base percentage, I think he would bring a major asset to an Orioles lineup that consists of many free swingers.
Both Gallardo and Fowler could help contribute to a 2016 playoff push, but would it put them over the top? No one really knows. Could it turn out horribly? Maybe.
What I do know is that the Orioles need to think long and hard about losing two picks in the first round if they sign both Gallardo and Fowler. I believe signing Fowler would be a better idea than signing Gallardo. I have always been skeptical of signing free-agent pitchers. At this point though, Gallardo signing with the Orioles is almost a foregone conclusion.
Signing Gallardo and/or Fowler will put pressure on the Orioles having success in the 2016 MLB Draft as well as drafts in the latter part of the deca