Tag Archive | "MLB"

Longtime Oriole Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta

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Longtime Oriole Markakis agrees to four-year deal with Atlanta

Posted on 03 December 2014 by Luke Jones

A 12-year relationship is no more as longtime Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis has agreed to a four-year deal with the Atlanta Braves.

Two days after 2014 home run champion Nelson Cruz departed Baltimore to sign a four-year, $57 million with Seattle, the longest-tenured player in the organization agreed to a contract worth $44 million, according to Yahoo Sports. The 31-year-old Markakis will be returning to his home state of Georgia where he grew up north of Atlanta in nearby Woodstock.

The Orioles and Markakis had engaged in talks last month that appeared to be progressing toward a four-year deal, but discussions stalled as the organization reportedly became hesitant about the idea of guaranteeing four years to the two-time Gold Glove outfielder. Markakis’ offensive production has declined in recent years, but replacing his ability at the top of the order and in right field as well as his presence in the clubhouse will be easier said than done.

After a rough 2013 season in which he hit a career-low .271 with 10 home runs, 59 runs batted in, and only a .685 on-base plus slugging percentage, Markakis rebounded some last season to bat .276 with 14 home runs, 50 RBIs, and a .729 OPS. His slugging percentage fell below the .400 mark in each of the last two years with his once-impressive gap power that once produced more than 40 doubles per season in clear decline.

The seventh overall pick of the 2003 draft, Markakis appeared in his first postseason with the Orioles this past October, hitting .258 with one home runs and three RBIs.

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Orioles tender contracts to Davis, Matusz, nine other arbitration-eligible players

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Orioles tender contracts to Davis, Matusz, nine other arbitration-eligible players

Posted on 02 December 2014 by Luke Jones

There were no surprises prior to Tuesday night’s deadline for arbitration-eligible players as the Orioles tendered contracts to all 11 eligible in that department.

The group includes position players Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, Ryan Flaherty, Steve Pearce, and Alejandro De Aza and pitchers Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Tommy Hunter, Zach Britton, and Brian Matusz. There had been some debate about the futures of Davis, De Aza, Hunter, and Matusz, but the Orioles tendered each a contract with the former three set to become free agents after the 2015 season.

As is always the case with arbitration situations, the sides will exchange salary figures in hopes of meeting somewhere in the middle and avoiding a hearing. For now, each player simply remains under club control as the Orioles can include them in any potential trade.

Though it was previously undetermined whether the Orioles would retain De Aza, his presence becomes even more important after the free-agent departure of Nelson Cruz and the undetermined status of free-agent outfielder Nick Markakis. De Aza batted .293 with the Orioles after being acquired from the Chicago White Sox in late August and is projected to make $5.9 million in 2015, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

Davis is coming off an abysmal season in which he hit only .196 and was suspended 25 games for amphetamine use, but the memory of his 53-homer campaign in 2013 was too much to ignore as he enters his final season before free agency. After making $10.3 million in 2014, Davis is projected to receive a raise to $11.8 million next season.

Perhaps the most questionable decision was tendering Matusz a contract as the lefty specialist is projected to make $2.7 million in 2015. The 27-year-old remained effective against left-handed hitting in 2014, but he once again struggled against right-handed hitters, who posted an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage against him.

Of the Orioles’ other arbitration-eligible players, Pearce figures to receive a significant bump after a career year while arbitration first-timers Tillman, Gonzalez, and Britton are in line for significant raises after impressive accomplishments in 2014.

Davis, Wieters, De Aza, Norris, Pearce, and Hunter are all scheduled to become free agents next offseason.

Below is a list of of Baltimore’s 11 arbitration players with their MLBTradeRumors.com projected salaries for 2015 in parentheses:

LHP Zach Britton ($3.2 million after making $521,500 in 2014)
INF Chris Davis: ($11.8 million after making $10.3 million in 2014)
OF Alejandro De Aza ($5.9 million after making $4.25 million in 2014)
INF Ryan Flaherty ($1 million after making $513,000 in 2014)
RHP Miguel Gonzalez ($3.7 million after making $529,000 in 2014)
RHP Tommy Hunter ($4.4 million after making $3 million in 2014)
LHP Brian Matusz ($2.7 million after making $2.4 million in 2014)
RHP Bud Norris ($8.7 million after making $5.3 million in 2014)
1B/OF Steve Pearce ($2.2 million after making $700,000 in 2014)
RHP Chris Tillman ($5.4 million after making $546,000 in 2014)
C Matt Wieters ($7.9 million after making $7.7 million in 2014)

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Nelson Cruz agrees to four-year deal with Seattle

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Nelson Cruz agrees to four-year deal with Seattle

Posted on 01 December 2014 by Luke Jones

Former Orioles slugger Nelson Cruz will not be returning to Baltimore after agreeing to a four-year deal with the Seattle Mariners on Monday.

As first reported by the Dominican newspaper El Caribe, the 34-year-old will receive a total of $57 million after spending a season with the Orioles that was described as a “platform” year by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette. Baltimore had hoped to retain Cruz’s services after he led the majors in home runs, but the organization was unwilling to offer more than a three-year deal as Cruz was initially seeking a five-year commitment.

The good news is that the Orioles will receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round after making Cruz a $15.3 million qualifying offer last month, but they will need to replace production that resulted in the veteran receiving the Most Valuable Oriole award last season. The organization signed Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract last spring after interest in the outfielder was lukewarm because of his connection to the Biogenesis scandal and subsequent 50-game suspension.

The Orioles may prove wise not making a lucrative commitment to a player who will turn 35 next July and is coming off a career year, but finding a productive bat to replace his work at the designated hitter spot and in left field won’t be easy. They’ve reportedly shown interest in outfielder Torii Hunter, but it’s believed the 39-year-old would have to accept a one-year deal.

Another option that’s reportedly been discussed is Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who has battled injuries in recent years and is still owed more than $107 million over the remaining five years of an eight-year, $160 million contract inked before the 2012 season. Of course, the Orioles would demand that the Dodgers take right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and his bloated contract off their hands in any potential trade, but it’s difficult envisioning the organization assuming such a deal without further financial assistance accompanying the 30-year-old outfielder.

Kemp hit .287 with 25 home runs, 89 runs batted in, and an .852 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2014, the first season in which he played more than 106 games since 2011.

Perhaps the easiest way for the Orioles to make up for Cruz’s production in 2015 would be a bounce-back season from first baseman Chris Davis as well as the respective returns of Manny Machado and Matt Wieters, but counting on Davis isn’t easy after he hit just .196 and saw his home run total drop from 53 in 2013 to just 26 in a nightmare 2014 that ended with him being suspended 25 games for amphetamine use.

In 678 plate appearances for the Orioles in 2014, Cruz hit .271 with 40 home runs, 108 RBIs, and an .859 OPS.

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Orioles add left-hander Barnes, infielder Navarro to 40-man roster

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Orioles add left-hander Barnes, infielder Navarro to 40-man roster

Posted on 26 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles officially added two more players to their 40-man roster Wednesday with the acquisition of left-handed relief pitcher Scott Barnes and the signing of infielder Rey Navarro.

The 27-year-old Barnes was acquired from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for cash considerations. He appeared in 25 games for Triple-A Columbus in 2014, going 3-2 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 2/3 innings. In two major league seasons for the Indians, Barnes pitched to a 5.20 ERA in 27 2/3 innings spanning 22 appearances.

Barnes was effective against both righties (.194) and left-handed hitters (.192) for Columbus last season and struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings pitched.

Navarro, 24, was previously a member of the Cincinnati Reds organization, splitting his 2014 season between Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville. In 65 games for Louisville, Navarro hit .296 with a .351 on-base percentage, three home runs, and 24 runs batted in.

The infielder has the ability to play second base, shortstop, and third base.

With Wednesday’s transactions, the Orioles now have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

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Orioles searching for new hitting coach to replace Presley

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Orioles searching for new hitting coach to replace Presley

Posted on 25 November 2014 by WNST Staff

After previously anticipating his entire coaching staff would return for the 2015 season, Orioles manager Buck Showalter must now find a new hitting coach.

Reportedly citing personal reasons, Jim Presley will be reassigned after four seasons as the hitting coach in Baltimore. The Sun first reported the news on Monday as the Orioles have already begun the search for his replacement.

The 53-year-old Presley had one year remaining on his contract as the Orioles led the major leagues in home runs for the second straight year. In 2014, they finished eighth in the majors in runs scored, ninth in batting average, and 17th in on-base percentage.

MASN reported the Orioles interviewed minor league hitting coordinator and former major leaguer Jeff Manto for the position on Monday.

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Orioles add right-handed pitchers Wright, Wilson to 40-man roster

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Orioles add right-handed pitchers Wright, Wilson to 40-man roster

Posted on 20 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles selected the contracts of young right-handed pitchers Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright, adding each to the 40-man roster on Thursday.

Wanting to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 draft, Wilson and Wright find themselves inching closer to receiving opportunities at the major league level. The 25-year-old Wilson was named the organization’s 2014 pitcher of the year after going a combined 14-8 with a 3.67 ERA in 166 2/3 innings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk.

Wilson led all Orioles minor leaguers in wins (14) and strikeouts (157) while ranking seventh in ERA. He was selected by Baltimore in the 10th round of the 2011 draft out of the University of Virginia.

The 24-year-old Wright went 5-11 with a 4.61 ERA in 26 starts for Norfolk in 2014, but he finished strong by allowing only one earned run in his final four starts covering 29 2/3 innings. A third-round pick from East Carolina, Wright has often been mentioned by manager Buck Showalter over the last couple years as a minor-league pitcher to watch.

While Wilson and Wright were expected to be added to the 40-man roster, the Orioles’ decision not to select the contract of right-handed pitcher Parker Bridwell was surprising considering how much talent the 23-year-old possesses. Bridwell’s 4.45 ERA in 26 starts at Single-A Frederick this year wasn’t overwhelming, but his mid-90s fastball and overall makeup make him a good candidate to potentially settle into a late-inning relief role at the major league level.

Bridwell, a ninth-round pick in 2010, has averaged 9.0 strikeouts per nine innings pitched in each of the last two seasons.

With the additions of Wilson and Wright, the Orioles now have 37 players on their 40-man roster.

On Wednesday, the Orioles announced the minor-league signings of infielder Michael Almanzar, left-handed pitcher Frank Gailey, infielder-outfielder Derrik Gibson,right-handed pitcher Tim Gustafson, lefty Chris Jones, right-hander Kenn Kasparek, shortstop Ozzie Martinez, right-hander Mikey O’Brien, and southpaw Ronan Pacheco. Almanzar was a Rule 5 selection last year who was returned to the Boston Red Sox before he was eventually dealt back to the Orioles as part of the Kelly Johnson trade.

 

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Orioles claim former Red Sox outfielder Hassan off waivers

Posted on 20 November 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Thursday that they have claimed outfielder Alex Hassan off of waivers from Oakland.

Hassan, 26, batted .287/.378/.426 with 40 extra-base hits and 55 RBI in 114 games for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2014. He made his major league debut for Boston on June 1 and went 1-for-8 in in three games for the Red Sox.

In six minor league seasons, Hassan has batted .291/.396/.436 in 538 games, including a .315/.434/.520 line in 648 plate appearances against left-handed pitching. Originally selected in the 20th round of the 2009 First Year Player Draft by Boston out of Duke University, Hassan was claimed off waivers by Oakland on November 17.

The Orioles now have 35 players on their 40-man major league roster.

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Mike Harmon talks all things sports with Nestor

Posted on 19 November 2014 by WNST Staff

Nestor was joined by Mike Harmon from Fox Sports to talk all things baseball and other sports. Clayton Kershaw dominates in the regular season but struggles in the playoffs. How much money will the Dodgers spend to make them a real threat? CATCH IT ALL HERE.

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Orioles re-sign relief pitcher Drake to major league deal

Posted on 18 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles elected to keep right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake in the organization by signing the 27-year-old to a major league contract on Tuesday.

Before becoming a minor-league free agent this offseason, the 27-year-old had a strong 2014 campaign at Double-A Bowie. In 52 2/3 innings, Drake posted a 3.08 ERA with 31 saves and averaged 12.1 strikeouts per nine innings to prove he was fully recovered from shoulder surgery two years earlier.

Drake was previously on the 40-man roster before being outrighted due to the 2012 shoulder surgery. He’s posted strong numbers since returning to pitch for Bowie in 2013, putting himself back on the organization’s map as a possible option in the bullpen.

A 43rd-round pick out of the Naval Academy in the 2008 draft, Drake began his professional career as a starting pitcher before he injured his shoulder. In 160 career minor-league games spanning seven seasons, Drake has gone 32-28 with a 3.53 ERA.

The Orioles now have 34 players on their 40-man roster.

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Other offseason moves not doing Orioles any favors

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Other offseason moves not doing Orioles any favors

Posted on 18 November 2014 by Luke Jones

While it’s been a quiet start to the offseason for the Orioles, this week has brought moves elsewhere that wouldn’t figure to do them any favors.

The Toronto Blue Jays’ decision to sign 31-year-old catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract will undoubtedly influence the asking price of Orioles catcher Matt Wieters when he hits free agency next offseason. Martin is coming off one of the best seasons of his career in which he hit .290 with 11 home runs and 67 runs batted in to go with a career-best .402 on-base percentage, but it’s a steep investment to make for a catcher who will be 32 at the start of spring training and hit below .240 in each of his previous three seasons.

Martin’s career on-base plus slugging percentage is .754 compared to Wieters’ .743.

This signing on the heels of the New York Yankees inking veteran catcher Brian McCann to a five-year, $85 million contract last winter must have agent Scott Boras licking his chops while waiting for Wieters to complete his rehab from last season’s Tommy John surgery.

Assuming he makes a full recovery and displays a throwing arm comparable to what he had prior to 2014, Wieters figures to get a deal that will trump what Martin or McCann received in free agency. The 2007 first-round pick doesn’t turn 29 until May and will have a full season to prove to all suitors he’s 100 percent after the procedure that cost him all but 26 games last season.

Of course, the Orioles have known all along that it would be difficult to sign their All-Star catcher to an extension as players typically don’t employ Boras with thoughts of a hometown discount when it comes to free agency. He isn’t getting nine years or the $164 million San Francisco gave Buster Posey a couple years ago, but it appears quite feasible that Wieters will approach or even reach nine figures with a strong and healthy 2015 campaign.

The Blue Jays giving $82 million to a catcher on the wrong side of age 30 only reaffirms that Wieters is going to get paid lucratively.

Another smaller signing Tuesday confirms the growing emphasis on relief pitching with the Chicago White Sox agreeing to a three-year, $15 million contract with left-hander Zach Duke. Free-agent lefty Andrew Miller and his representation must be salivating to see the 31-year-old Duke cash in on a good 2014 season amidst mediocre career numbers.

In 74 appearances with Milwaukee, Duke pitched to a 2.45 ERA and averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings, but he sports a 4.46 career ERA — much of that coming as a starter earlier in his career — and has averaged just 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings in 10 seasons pitching only in the National League. Lefties batted .198 against Duke while right-handed hitters posted a .242 mark in 2014.

The veteran southpaw had a good season, but if a club was willing to hand out a three-year, $15 million contract to a lefty reliever after only one good season, how much is Miller — who’s posted three impressive seasons in a row — ultimately going to fetch as arguably the most sought after bullpen arm on the market?

Another move to keep in the back of your mind was the Atlanta Braves’ decision to trade outfielder Jason Heyward to St. Louis in exchange for starting pitcher Shelby Miller, the first blockbuster trade of the winter. As right fielder Nick Markakis remains unsigned and available, it’s interesting to note that the 31-year-old spent much of his life growing up in Georgia and the Braves now appear to have an opening in the outfield depending on what they do with some other position players.

To be clear, there haven’t been any tangible indications that Atlanta would pursue the 2014 Gold Glove winner as it’s still expected that the Orioles and Markakis will get a deal done.

The news of Miami inking young slugger Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year, $325 million contract doesn’t appear to have any direct impact on the Orioles, but it does compel some to again bring up the possibility of signing 22-year-old third baseman Manny Machado to a long-term contract.

Machado is certainly the kind of talent that you’d like to keep as long as possible, but the Orioles need to make sure he is fully healthy in 2015 after having both knees surgically repaired in less than a year’s time. Until he makes it through a full season — which his rehab schedule indicates he’ll have a good chance to do — the organization should be holding off on any talk of a lucrative deal.

The 2010 first-round pick isn’t scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2018 season.

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