Orioles facing a run of tough choices

Chemistry alone can't keep the core of the Orioles together. It'll take a pile of money, too. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Red Sox have won the World Series three times in the past 10 seasons. The Yankees have made the playoffs all but two seasons since 1995, capitalizing on a record payroll. The Tampa Bay Rays are generally viewed within the industry as having the best-run baseball operations department and the most symbiotic organization.

Welcome to the world that the Baltimore Orioles inhabit, where they must try to find elbow room. The Orioles won 93 games in 2012 and made the postseason for the first time in 15 years, but they drifted back to 85 wins this past summer and now face a winter of extremely difficult decisions.

The Orioles’ payroll grew from $67 million in 2009 to $92 million in 2013, and because of raises built into signed contracts for the likes of Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, and because Baltimore has more than a half-dozen arbitration-eligible players, the payroll could easily climb to $100 million without a significant upgrade.

This goes a long way to explaining why Orioles GM Dan Duquette cast a wide net at the GM meetings last week, encouraging teams to present their best offers