The Baltimore Orioles are under the Angelos umbrella no more. Two private equity billionaires, David Rubenstein and Mike Arougheti, are stepping up to buy the team for $1.725 billion, according to a report by John Ourand. Cal Ripken, Jr. is also involved with the new ownership group according to Andy Kostka.
Could this mean the cutting-edge front office will receive the type of support needed to continue their success, instead of putting up a payroll that only outranks the Oakland Athletics (who will be effectively homeless following the 2024 season)?
Only time will tell, but this pending sale could explain the surprisingly quiet nature of the Orioles' offseason, as their lone major signing has been reliever Craig Kimbrel, despite submitting a somewhat out-of-nowhere 101-win season and having one of the most talented young position player groups in baseball.
The general consensus amongst most experts is that the Orioles outperformed a bit last season; most projections had their actual win total around 89 wins, and their 2024 projections sitting around 92+ wins, good for best in the division. That's all well and good, but the AL East is by far the most competitive division in baseball, leading one to hope that this new ownership group will allow the front office to be a bit more proactive in addressing their troubling rotation and bullpen (which will be without stalwart Felix Bautista for the year as he recovers from TJ surgery).
Whether it's dealing with their strong bevy of position player talent or using a bit of that large cap space they have (an estimated CBT space number of around $154 million) to invest in a high-level arm like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, there are moves to be made this offseason that could significantly improve their chances for 2024.
Even if new ownership isn't able to step in and allow things to become stable enough to make major moves this offseason, the hope is that we won't have to hear any more quips from GM Mike Elias saying that, despite no leaks of the Orioles being involved in any major moves, the team is “probably being as aggressive as any team out there” when it comes to the trade market.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard from a cheap team like the Rays or Orioles "We promise we were just as involved as anyone else" after a free agent signs elsewhere or a high-caliber player is traded to another team, I'd probably have enough money to pay for either of those teams' payroll.
Ok, I'm being harsh and getting off-topic; regardless of Elias' inability to come off as anything but a former Astros GM that is still a huge turd, the Orioles are hoping this new ownership group will give the team a much-needed boost to their payroll flexibility, and despite my misgivings about Elias and his front office group being involved in such an unsavory team as Houston, they know what the hell they're doing.
They'll be able to turn Baltimore into the same type of winning machine that the Dodgers continue to be, except they'll be doing it in Maryland with a beautiful, soon-to-be renovated (thanks to "state lawmakers authorized borrowing up to $600 million in the form of bonds to pay for upgrades") stadium that hopefully won't lose that classic feel that makes it so charming, although many Orioles fans have their doubts.
If I sound critical and cynical even though there's a new group of super-duper-rich people in town to run a baseball team, well, it's because I am, even if the Iron Man himself is involved. But we won't get into why I'll always be snarky in any discussion involving billionaires. For now, let's just focus on the fact that the Orioles are sold, and hopefully, that's good for baseball.
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