Orioles manager Buck Showalter says 'there's a lot of offseason left'

  • Orioles manager Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter looks on from the dugout. (Rob Carr / Getty Images )
December 06, 2013|By Eduardo A. Encina, The Baltimore Sun

Orioles manager Buck Showalter faces the task of reshuffling a roster that took a severe hit this week in a five-day span in which the club traded All-Star closer Jim Johnson and former Orioles Nate McLouth and Scott Feldman, two of the team's top priorities to resign, signed elsewhere.

The club has several holes to fill, needing a starting pitcher, left fielder, left-handed designated hitter and now a closer. The roster will likely look different when the Orioles takes the field come February in Sarasota, Fla.

In advance of next week's Winter Meetings in Orlando, Showalter discussed several team topics, reflecting on the recent losses, the free-agent market and where the Orioles go from here.

This week you lost a big part of your team when Jim Johnson was traded. Not only was he a 50-save closer, but a veteran leader in your clubhouse. Moving forward, how do you replace him?

Well, there's a lot of offseason left. There are a lot of things that can happen between now and April, and I think I would take precaution of not getting too far down the road with this. Jimmy is a good man. You form that bond with all your players, especially with a guy who is a lifelong Oriole. You get to know who he is and [his wife] Liz and [his children] Levi and Abby, it's tough. I've been through it, some of this, before and you understand the game moves on without you sometimes. You understand that — I don't want to get too deep — but it's the circle of life. It's tough but what are you going to do? Give in? I'm not wired that way and neither are the rest of our players. I look at it that they have confidence in me and the rest of our guys that we can do something to make up for the loss. We'll see.

When you think about how you're going to replace Johnson, where do you go? At this point do you foresee a competition for the closer spot?

I think we're too early into it. We're looking at everybody and who's available, whether it be a free agent or a trade. I'm personally looking from within to what I would do, where I would go. As people become available and an option for us, Dan [Duquette] and I talk about it. It's obviously a players' market right now. Let's face it, there are going to be some fourth and fifth starters signing for $10 million a year times three [years], but that's what the game is right now for right now. I'll say this, it's not so much signing the [Jacoby] Ellsburys and the [Robinson] Canos, those guys. It's when you see the Red Sox signing [Edward] Mujica and the Yankees signing Kelly Johnson. Those are the support guys who cover them. That's where it hurts, but nobody said it was going to be fair.

How tough is that to see?

It's not tough. It's an opportunity. It's an opportunity for Kevin Gausman. It's an opportunity for T.J. McFarland, who is having a great year in winter ball. It's a great opportunity for Josh Stinson, who we might have hit on at the right time there. It's an opportunity for [Dylan] Bundy when he's healthy. It's an opportunity for Zach Britton, who is out of options. It's an opportunity for Mike Wright. That's the way I'm going to look at it. I could rip off 10 names last year who nobody really knew much about or had never heard of and at the end of the year, they're saying, "Damn, that's pretty good. I didn't see that coming." That's our job, you know, to try to evaluate that. I'm trying to figure out a way that we don't have that many save opportunities. We led baseball in save opportunities the past two years. We have to do a better job of that.

This week you also saw two players who the team wanted to resign, Nate McLouth and Scott Feldman, go elsewhere. What is your reaction to losing those two?

There's a long time between now and April. We'll see. Nate did some really good things for us. He was a real pleasure to manage. I'm real lucky to have him pass my way. He was fun to have around. He's a good young man. I hate to see him go. With Scott, he's another one. But it's just another opportunity for someone else.

Speaking of left field, you have some options, having signed Nolan Reimold and with Henry Urrutia coming off a good fall league season, but how do you see that position shaking out?

I'm lucky you look on the roster and there's Reimold, [Steve] Pearce, Urrutia and [Francisco] Peguero … There's a lot of unknown with Nolan, but we're going to take a look at it one more time and see how it goes. He's going to play at 30 years old. Henry had a great fall league but there's also some unknown there. Adam [Jones] and Nick [Markakis] have a track record there but I think there are some things we're still looking at. ... I think you'll see us make an addition there. There are six outfielders on the major league roster, so you've got to figure something's coming.

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