O's face tough choices in Hot Stove

O's face tough choices in Hot Stove

BALTIMORE -- This offseason will be an interesting one for the Orioles, an expensive 2016 team that will have some big decisions to make regarding the team's future.

On Monday, Baltimore made a one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer to Mark Trumbo, who hit an MLB-best 47 homers in 2016, which means Baltimore will receive a compensation Draft pick if Trumbo signs with another club. The O's didn't extend a qualifying offer to longtime catcher Matt Wieters.

Wieters accepted the qualifying offer last winter, which marked the second-highest annual salary in O's history. Baltimore could still re-sign him, as the free-agent class of catchers is thin, but the O's have some pricey arbitration-eligibles like Chris Tillman, Zach Britton and Manny Machado each projected to make north of $10 million.

Before free agency really gets going, let's take a quick look at where the O's are:

Free agents: OF Trumbo, C Wieters, DH Pedro Alvarez, INF/OF Steve Pearce, OF Michael Bourn, RHP Tommy Hunter, OF Nolan Reimold, OF Drew Stubbs, LHP Brian Duensing.

Arbitration-eligibles: RHP Tillman, INF Ryan Flaherty, CL Britton, RHP Vance Worley, RHP Brad Brach, 3B Machado, 2B Jonathan Schoop, LHP T.J. McFarland, RHP Kevin Gausman, C Caleb Joseph.

Biggest potential free-agent loss: Losing Wieters would definitely change the complexion of the Orioles, though Trumbo's bat would probably be a bigger loss. There's really no replacing that kind of power, as Trumbo singlehandedly won numerous games for Baltimore in 2016.

Potential free-agent targets: Dexter Fowler, again? While the name may be a sore subject for O's fans, Fowler would certainly be a boost for an Orioles team that needs outfield help. There's no expectation the Orioles will be big spenders to add to their rotation, but they could make some improvements in outfield defense and on-base percentage going into next spring. Fowler, who was on the verge of a deal with Baltimore this spring, is an intriguing name and would be a good fit.

Wild-card scenario: The Orioles opt to trade closer Britton or move him into a struggling rotation, which would put them in the market for a closer. Another interesting move, if they keep Britton in the bullpen, would be to explore a trade of Brach, who is coming off a career season in relief and could net them solid prospects or help plug a hole elsewhere. Either of those moves would be a surprise right now, however.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.