2014 Outlook: Baltimore Orioles

2014 Outlook: Baltimore Orioles
January 8, 2014, 10:45 am
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2013 record: 85-77, 3rd place in AL East
Manager: Buck Showalter, 5th season

Estimated 2014 payroll: $82 million
Key additions: 2B Jemile Weeks, RP Ryan Webb, OF David Lough
Key losses: 2B Brian Roberts, SP Scott Feldman, OF Nate McLouth, OF Michael Morse, CL Jim Johnson

Projected lineup

RF Nick Markakis

3B Ryan Flaherty

1B Chris Davis

CF Adam Jones

C Matt Wieters

SS J.J. Hardy

DH Nolan Reimold

LF David Lough
2B Jemile Weeks

Projected rotation

RHP Chris Tillman

LHP Wei-Yin Chen

RHP Bud Norris

RHP Miguel Gonzalez

RHP Kevin Gausman

Top relievers


CL Tommy Hunter

RHP Darren O'Day

LHP Brian Matusz

[RELATED: Nats pitchers and catchers report date released]

Biggest questions entering 2014

1. Will Chris Davis repeat his 2013 season? Davis exploded last year with 53 home runs and a 1.004 OPS, enough to earn him a third place finish in AL MVP voting. He raised his average and became much more patient at the plate. The question now becomes whether last year was a fluke, or if this is the Davis we'll see for years to come. The Orioles should have a strong lineup once again, but an MVP-level Davis makes it among the best in the league.

2. When will Manny Machado return? Machado is recovering from left knee surgery and is progressing as expected. He is on track to return some time early in the season. Having Machado in the lineup will be huge, obviously, as he's an All-Star player who showed in 2013 he can also hit. There's no rush to bring him back as it's a long season, but Machado is a difference maker and any time without him will test their depth. He's hard to replace both at the plate and in the field.

3. Who will be the closer? The Orioles tried to sign Grant Balfour this offseason, but a problem with his physical nixed the deal. Unless they go after another free agent like Fernando Rodney, the Orioles will start the season with Tommy Hunter as their closer. Hunter throws high heat and had a breakout season in 2013. He's also a veteran pitcher of six years with playoff experience. Is he enough to fill the role? He has only four career saves.