Now, they are getting ready for baseball games, which, with the way the team expects to play, should keep them in the limelight all year. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 14, with the rest of the squad following shortly after.
Last year, the team won 101 games, taking the American League East for the first time since 2014. They may be even better this year.
But the games aren’t played on paper, and there are still questions about the ripple effects of these two major developments. Plus, there’s the matter of sorting out where all these prospects from the league’s best farm system are going to play.
Here are five questions facing the Orioles:
How will the sale affect how the Orioles do business?
This remains to be seen. John Angelos agreed last week to sell a controlling stake of the the team to an investment group led by David Rubenstein, a Baltimore native and billionaire. The sale, though, will not be finalized until it is put up for a vote and approved by at least 75% of MLB owners.
The biggest question is whether the group will spend more money. The Orioles won the division last year with the second-lowest payroll in MLB. While their spending will increase this year due to the acquisition of Burnes ($15.6 million) and the 17 players in arbitration, these deals were done under the Angelos family, not the new ownership group. As for extensions to young stars like Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson, there is still no news to report.
“I’m going to have the same boring stance on that topic,” general manager Mike Elias said last week. “I don’t talk about it. It’s something that I think is best approached or contemplated quietly. I think it helps with business with the agents and players when they know any efforts we’ve made in the past or in the future will not be put out there by our front office.”
Will Jackson Holliday break camp with the major league team?
Holliday, the unanimous top prospect in baseball, is heading into spring training with a chance to make the opening day roster. The question for him is when, not if, he will take a major league field this season.
Holliday, only 20 years old, jumped up four levels last season, from Delmarva to Norfolk, ending the year just a level below the majors. He hit .323 with a .941 OPS across the year. He spent only 18 games in Triple-A, where he went 20-for-75 and gained experience playing in high-stakes games as the Tides won the International League Championship.
It’s possible, given his limited time in Triple-A, that the Orioles will decide Holliday needs more seasoning before he joins them in Baltimore. He’s played mainly shortstop in the minors, but can also play second.
What about the crowded infield?
This all depends on the above. The Orioles are not going to bring Holliday up unless he’s ready to be an everyday player. Trading Joey Ortiz eliminates some congestion, but there’s still a lot of competition for limited spots.
At first, Ryan O’Hearn and Ryan Mountcastle should be the duo again. Beyond that, Jordan Westburg, Henderson, Jorge Mateo and Ramon Urías are all in the mix, and all have position versatility. Add in prospects Coby Mayo, who plays first and third, and Connor Norby, second and outfield, and the Orioles have a deep pool to pick from.
Will the Orioles make any more moves to bolster their roster?
It was looking like it was going to be a bitterly quiet offseason for the Orioles with just one free agent signing — Craig Kimbrel for $12 million, plus an option for 2025. Then, last Thursday, that all changed when they traded for Corbin Burnes, bringing in a new ace in exchange for two major league-ready players and a 2024 draft pick.
It solved a major hole for the team, and sets them up to have a rotation with Burnes, Kyle Bradish, Grayson Rodriguez, John Means and Dean Kremer, with Tyler Wells and Cole Irvin also in the mix.
As for whether they’ll bring more pitching help? That answer is likely no.
“We’ll see,” Elias said. “We might look for ways to add additional depth, whether that’s off-the-roster minor league depth or what have you. We still have some time left. If this is the group of starting pitching candidates that we have, it’s good, it’s deep and I do think that it would be enough to responsibly bring into a camp.”
But there’s still time to make other moves as desired. Trades can be made until July 30, and free agency has no deadline.
Where will top prospects start the season?
Seven of the Orioles top 10 prospects ended the season in Triple-A or the majors last year. Colton Cowser and Heston Kjerstad will again be in contention for outfield spots, with Holliday, Mayo and Norby as part of the infield mix.
Catcher Samuel Basallo, who jumped from No. 42 to No. 10 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list, should be off to Double-A or Triple-A. Pitchers Chayce McDermott and Cade Povich are likely heading back to Triple-A.