Similar to the 2015 Chicago Cubs, the 2023 Baltimore Orioles put the league on notice earlier than anyone anticipated, cruising to 101 wins and an American League East division crown.
However, their October journey was cut short - far shorter than most anticipated - with the Texas Rangers sweeping Brandon Hyde's club in the ALDS and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of Birdland. The team's biggest need proved to be their undoing, a need that was clear even leading up to the trade deadline: proven arms.
Instead of going after a big name, like Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander, the O's picked up Jack Flaherty from St. Louis. That proved to be a big mistake as the right-hander struggled to a 6.75 ERA in 7 starts and a pair of relief appearances down the stretch. Without a go-to guy atop the rotation, the O's were no match for the Rangers come October.
Orioles won't threaten Cubs' plans in free agency this offseason
That might prompt one to believe Baltimore could be swimming in the deep end of the free agent pool this winter - but based on recent comments from ownership related to even extending members of its young core, that doesn't seem to be the case.
A deal in that range - $40-60 million - isn't anything to sneeze at, but it's a far cry from what it will take to pull in someone like Aaron Nola or Blake Snell this winter. Ideally, those are the types of arms the Cubs are targeting to put alongside Justin Steele atop the rotation in 2024 and beyond. After all, Jameson Taillon pulled in $68 million last winter from Chicago - and his resume pales in comparison to the top end arms available this winter.
As a Cubs fan, I'm fine with a team that, at least on paper, should have the financial flexibility to sign top free agents seemingly content with only dipping their toes in the kiddie pool. But as a baseball fan, it sucks, because the Orioles could be something special if ownership and the front office added some big-time pieces to that already impressive group of young players.