Orioles reveal high expectations at FanFest

Orioles reveal high expectations at FanFest

BALTIMORE -- There have been years at Orioles FanFest when executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has had numerous roster holes left to fill, making the annual event full of lingering questions -- such as last year's Chris Davis situation -- as to what lay ahead.

But on the heels of Friday night's press conference announcing the re-signing of Mark Trumbo, Saturday's event drew more than 15,000 fans to the Baltimore Convention Center and was more about excitement. And, for a team that got just a taste of the postseason last year, 2017's club offers another chance to bring home a championship.

"That's the attitude and mentality of everybody in the clubhouse. We aren't out there to just kind of slide in there at the last minute," Davis said of a 2017 team that returns largely the same group of players. "Obviously, if we have to play a Wild Card game, we will do it, but we want to win the division. And we expect to be in the postseason every year. That's just kind of the way we look at things. That's where the bar is now."

Sure, there is still work to be done. But the O's have upgraded their outfield with the trade for Seth Smith, filled the void left with Matt Wieters' departure in signing catcher Welington Castillo and ensured Trumbo will continue hitting homers in Camden Yards for the foreseeable future.

There is a window, with key players like Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Chris Tillman all headed for free agency soon, and that window is now.

"I think there's been an urgency the past few years," shortstop J.J. Hardy said of returning a World Series to Baltimore. "We've got a team that can go out there and compete and win, and we want to keep that around, for sure."

A Baltimore team that relied on the home run and a stout bullpen returns one that will likely do the same, with setup man Darren O'Day -- injured most of 2016 -- healthy and eager to rejoin the relief corps. Starting pitching, a concern over the past few seasons, will again be a critical factor in the Orioles' success.

"Especially having those two young guys Kevin Gausman and Dylan [Bundy], they have a lot of talent, and if they are capable of doing what they did last year, we are going to be in a good place," Ubaldo Jimenez said of his rotation mates. "[Chris] Tillman, he's been the ace for the last four or five years. And, for me, I just need to be able to be consistent and be there for the team. If we do that together, we are going to be in a good place."

The O's, having traded Yovani Gallardo for outfielder Smith, have five primary starters, though there's every expectation that Duquette will add a few more pitching options before Spring Training.

"We're still looking to fill out our ballclub, and there's some other opportunities that we're going to explore, but we hope to sign some players between now and the start of the spring," Duquette said. "We're looking for some depth to our lineup and some depth for our pitching staff."

In that vein, the O's have reached out to right-hander Vance Worley, who they non-tendered earlier in the offseason. Worley could be a spot starter and long-relief guy, similar to the role of Logan Verrett. Mike Wright and Tyler Wilson: adding to that starting depth.

"I think we are going to have a competitive team," center fielder Adam Jones said. "But I don't want to just have a competitive team, I want a team that's out there competing for the championship."

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.