I think history teaches us that it is better to let other teams pay the sizeable contracts.
If you are constantly grinding out talent and can plow 3 solid prospects back into the farm for every talent you send out... I see that as sustainable. Get the ascending youth out of 'em and send them on...
I don't see any other club really doing this yet... closest may be TB... but I think that's what the front office has in mind.
I'm kind of using them (among other things) as a barometer of the progression of the rebuild.
In the early phases of the rebuild, the O's were trying to reclaim scrap heap players and hoping for early market-outperform resources they could trade at the deadline (in addition to trading what was left of the previous team's actual talent). But they are slowly migrating away from journeymen pitchers and position players toward pieces they might have future plans for.
This tells me we've rounded the bottom and will now start looking to build the major league team instead of just the farm. It will still be a slow process. Money, winning pct, where we are in the plan will determine if (and at what tier) free agents can be added. I'm hoping they resist that urge and see what they have for a year.
You'll know the plan is accelerating when Rutschman and the next crop of pitchers arrive. I think the bolus of pitching talent throttling through the minors is what will make a contender by 2022.. and Hays, Santander, Stewart, Mountcastle, Mancini and and if we're lucky Iglesias make a pretty good starting point.
Things are looking up... and I think the intent is to create sustainable progress by doing it on the cheap... play 'em as long as you can and then trading the top tier resources with time enough left under team control that they bring a healthy return... play north of 500 all the time.. and constantly re-stuffing the pipeline.
It's the only way to sustain a mid market team