Tag Archive | "MLB"

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Orioles bring back old friend Andino on minor-league deal

Posted on 06 February 2017 by Luke Jones

The Orioles are bringing an old friend to Sarasota for a look this spring.

Veteran infielder Robert Andino has agreed to a minor-league contract that will include an invitation to spring training. Originally acquired from the Florida Marlins in exchange for pitcher Hayden Penn in 2009, the 32-year-old spent four seasons in Baltimore, appearing in 360 games and hitting .239 with a .629 on-base plus slugging percentage in 1,223 plate appearances.

Andino was considered a local hero for his role in helping knock the Boston Red Sox out of postseason contention in the 2011 regular-season finale. His game-winning single not only ended the Orioles’ season on a winning note, but it served as the symbolic turning point for a club that qualified for the playoffs a year later to end a miserable stretch of 14 consecutive losing seasons.

Having appeared in just 42 major league games since being dealt to Seattle after the 2012 campaign, Andino brings more spring depth to the Baltimore infield.

The Orioles also confirmed the minor-league signing of infielder Johnny Giavotella, who appeared in 99 games for the Los Angeles Angels last year and owns a career .256 average over six major league seasons.

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Orioles reach agreement with Gausman to avoid hearing

Posted on 05 February 2017 by Luke Jones

Just days away from their second arbitration hearing of the month, the Orioles have instead reached an agreement with starting pitcher Kevin Gausman on a one-year contract.

Reported first by FOX Sports, the sides agreed to a $3.45 million salary plus incentives based on the number of starts he’ll make this season. In his first year of arbitration as a player with “Super Two” status, the 26-year-old right-hander was seeking $3.55 million while the Orioles countered at $3.15 million when the sides exchanged figures last month.

Reliever Brad Brach is Baltimore’s final unsigned arbitration-eligible player. Backup catcher Caleb Joseph lost his arbitration case last week as the organization won its ninth consecutive hearing dating back to 1996.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette reiterated the club’s intent to go to hearings with all three of its unsigned arbitration-eligible players last month, but the Orioles were wise to avoid the process with Gausman, who was their best starter in the second half of 2016. Finishing with a career-high 179 2/3 innings, the 2012 first-round pick pitched to a superb 2.83 ERA over his final 12 starts spanning 76 1/3 frames.

Gausman turned in the finest start of his career on Sept. 14, pitching eight shutout innings in a 1-0 victory over Boston at Fenway Park. Despite an underwhelming 9-12 record due to poor run support, the right-hander finished his first full season as a starter with a 3.61 ERA and struck out 8.7 batters and walked 2.4 per nine innings.

Under club control through the 2020 season, Gausman is considered a critical component of the Orioles’ efforts to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.

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After long process, Trumbo ends up exactly where he wanted to be

Posted on 27 January 2017 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Free agency didn’t play out exactly how Mark Trumbo envisioned, but the slugger ended up where he wanted to be all along.

A week after signing a three-year, $37.5 million contract to remain with the Orioles, Trumbo expressed happiness in being able to stay where he found a comfort zone in 2016 after being traded three times in a two-year period. The 31-year-old knows Oriole Park at Camden Yards suits him well after enjoying a career season and helping Baltimore to its third postseason appearance of the last five years.

“I always held out a lot of hope that there would be an opportunity here down the road, which is fortunately what ended up happening,” Trumbo said. “If there were competitive offers on the table — even if this one had been a little bit lower — this was my first choice.”

Of course, it was a surprise to Trumbo that no other competitive offers truly materialized. Projected by many to receive upwards of $60 million on a four- or five-year deal, he found a cooler-than-expected market for his services despite hitting a career-high 47 home runs to lead the majors.

The story played out much like the previous winter with first baseman Chris Davis, who envisioned a $200 million contract before finally agreeing to a seven-year, $161 million deal that included $42 million deferred. Trumbo wasn’t the only free-agent slugger to sign for less than anticipated this winter as he even cited other hitters — such as Mike Napoli — who still remain on the market.

There were plenty of highs and lows in the negotiations with the Orioles while few other clubs even remained in the mix. Trumbo said there were a few other offers that had some appeal early in the offseason, but others were easy to forgo as he hoped to work something out with Baltimore.

“You kind of go into it thinking you might have a ton of suitors,” said Trumbo, whose value was depressed since another clubs would have needed to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. “You lead the league in home runs [and think], ‘Who’s not interested in that?’ And then you realize that there aren’t that many vacancies at times for what you do, especially this year.”

Despite Trumbo’s impressive ability to hit home runs, his defensive limitations and lack of ideal plate discipline likely kept other suitors away. His career .303 on-base percentage isn’t ideal while defensive metrics and most observers perceive him to be a liability as an outfielder, diminishing his appeal to any National League clubs who didn’t have an opening at his best defensive position — first base.

With the offseason acquisition of veteran outfielder Seth Smith from the Seattle Mariners — who played with Trumbo in 2015 — the Orioles are likely to use Trumbo primarily as a designated hitter against right-handed starters. However, Smith’s struggles against southpaw pitching could prompt manager Buck Showalter to use Trumbo in right field against lefty starters.

He could also make an occasional start at first to spell Davis, who was a finalist for the 2016 American League Gold Glove. Trumbo said he hasn’t been told how he’d be used in 2017 and described his outfield defense as “adequate” after he made 95 starts in right field a year ago.

“I definitely don’t think I’m a liability out there,” said Trumbo, who acknowledged the widespread criticism of his outfield defense. “If Buck chooses to put me out there, I’m going to do everything I can to play a good right field, left field, wherever needed on the defensive side. But if I end up DH-ing most of the time, that would be great, too.”

With the financial part of the decision finally behind him, Trumbo expressed his content over being able to remain in a clubhouse in which he fit well last year. His dependable and cerebral approach to the game was praised by executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who said he received a text of approval from All-Star third baseman Manny Machado after the news of the signing broke.

In his first season with the club, Trumbo quickly earned the respect of his coaches and teammates. Those same teammates were mentioned repeatedly as a big reason why the slugger was so glad to be staying.

“I beat that to death, but it really is true,” Trumbo said. “I think the way I was welcomed coming into spring training last year. As a new player, which I was trying to tell Seth Smith recently, you’re going to love it here. They just know how to make you feel comfortable right away. That, in turn, allows you to go out and play your best baseball.”

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Orioles, Trumbo agree to three-year, $37.5 million deal

Posted on 19 January 2017 by Luke Jones

For the second offseason in a row, the Orioles will re-sign baseball’s reigning home run champ.

Baltimore and slugger Mark Trumbo agreed on a three-year deal that was completed after he passed a physical on Friday. The total contract is worth around $37 million with some money deferred, according to Yahoo’s Jeff Passan.

The deal comes just a few days after the one-year anniversary of the Orioles agreeing to a seven-year, $161 million contract with Chris Davis, the 2015 home run champ. Of course, this negotiation involved far less money than last year’s with the Baltimore first baseman, but it played out in a similar fashion with highs and lows in the midst of a lukewarm market that included no other serious bidders for either slugger’s services.

Having already been traded three times in a two-year period, Trumbo made it clear near the end of the 2016 season that he hoped to stay in Baltimore where he felt comfortable playing at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and fit in well with the rest of the clubhouse. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette had recently expressed a preference to receive a compensatory pick for Trumbo’s potential departure, but the sides remained a fit with spring training less than a month away.

“We are happy that we were able to bring Mark Trumbo back to the Orioles,” Duquette said in a statement on Friday. “We like his presence in our lineup and professional work ethic along with the elite power he brings to our ballpark.”

Acquired from Seattle in exchange for backup catcher Steve Clevenger last offseason, Trumbo had a career year in Baltimore by hitting 47 home runs to go along with a .256 average, 108 runs batted in, and an .850 on-base plus slugging percentage. A sensational first half that included a .288 batting average and 28 home runs in 87 games earned Trumbo his second trip to the All-Star Game, and he accounted for the only Orioles scoring with a two-run shot in the American League wild-card game loss to Toronto.

Despite that success and a cheaper-than-expected price, Trumbo’s re-signing does not come without risk after he struggled mightily in the second half with a .214 average and a .284 on-base percentage over his final 292 plate appearances. The right-handed batter also finished with a putrid .173 average and .608 OPS against left-handed pitching in 2016.

The 31-year-old was also worth minus-11 defensive runs saved in the outfield, zapping much of his offensive value and bringing his wins above replacement to an ordinary 1.6.

Having acquired veteran Seth Smith from the Mariners earlier this month, the Orioles would be wise to play him in right field with Trumbo serving as their designated hitter as much as possible. However, Smith struggles mightily against left-handed pitching, which could open the door for Trumbo to play right field against southpaw starters.

With Thursday’s pending agreement, the Orioles are now projected to have a payroll north of $160 million on Opening Day, which would be a franchise record.

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Once with Orioles, Raines finally elected to Hall of Fame

Posted on 18 January 2017 by Luke Jones

The wait has finally ended for Tim Raines while other former Orioles will wait at least another year for the invitation to Cooperstown.

In his 10th and final year on the ballot, the seven-time All-Star outfielder was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by garnering 86.0 percent of the vote, comfortably more than the required 75 percent. First baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez will also be part of the 2017 Hall of Fame induction class.

The sabermetrics era has helped Raines’ Hall of Fame cause as his .385 career on-base percentage and sensational 84.7 percent stolen-base percentage in his career were just two accomplishments that were underappreciated as he was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson, the greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history. His 69.1 wins above replacement rank 108th on Baseball Reference’s all-time list.

A 42-year-old Raines was only an Oriole for four games as Baltimore made a trade to allow him to play with his son, Tim Raines Jr., at the end of the 2001 season. Though understandably overshadowed by the final days of Cal Ripken’s brilliant Hall of Fame career, the two became the second father-son duo in major league history to play in the same game on Oct. 3, 2001.

The older Raines went 3-for-11 with a home run and five RBIs in 12 plate appearances with the Orioles while his son posted a career .213 average in parts of three major league seasons with Baltimore.

Former Orioles stating pitcher Mike Mussina again fell short of Cooperstown in his fourth year on the ballot, but he received 51.8 percent of the vote after earning 43.0 percent in 2016, an encouraging trend for his potential induction down the road.

Though he never won a Cy Young Award and won 20 games only once in his 18-year career, the five-time All-Star selection and seven-time Gold Glove winner ranks 58th on the Baseball Reference all-time WAR list. Despite playing his entire career in the American League East, Mussina finished sixth or better in Cy Young voting nine times and ranks 33rd on the all-time wins list with 270.

Despite playing the final eight years of his career with the New York Yankees, Mussina was inducted into the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2012.

A designated hitter for the Orioles in the final year of his major league career in 2011, Vladimir Guerrero was not elected in his first year of eligibility despite being named to nine All-Star teams, winning the 2004 AL Most Valuable Player Award, hitting 449 home runs, and holding a career .318 batting average. Having received 71.7 percent of the vote this year, Guerrero is a virtual lock to make it next year.

Lee Smith, an All-Star closer in his only season with the Orioles in 1994, received 34.2 percent of the vote in his final year on the ballot. He was once baseball’s all-time saves leader with 478 before both Mariano Rivera (652) and Trevor Hoffman (601) shattered his mark.

Part of the Orioles’ infamous trade for Glenn Davis in 1991, right-handed pitcher Curt Schilling dropped from 52.3 percent to 45.0 percent in his fifth year of eligibility, likely a product of his controversial views and criticism for the media.

An Oriole in 2005, Sammy Sosa received only 8.6 percent of the vote.

Three other former Orioles — Melvin Mora, Arthur Rhodes, and Derrek Lee — did not receive a single vote in their first year of eligibility and will now fall off the ballot. Mora was elected to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2015, but he was never expected to receive consideration for Cooperstown.

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Twelve Orioles thoughts counting down to spring training

Posted on 18 January 2017 by Luke Jones

With Orioles pitchers and catchers reporting to Sarasota for spring training in less than a month, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. There are valid reasons for the Orioles not to re-sign Mark Trumbo, but nothing about Dan Duquette’s history in Baltimore makes me believe he truly values a compensatory draft pick for the departure of the slugger.

2. Entering Wednesday, Baltimore’s 2017 estimated payroll of $157.9 million ranked eighth in the majors, according to Baseball Reference. I question how wisely the Orioles are budgeting for their roster more than the amount they’re spending these days.

3. Zach Britton is worth every penny of the $11.4 million he’ll be paid in 2017, but I still believe it was organizational malpractice not to pursue a trade this offseason with the lucrative market we saw for closers. A club with other needs and a shrinking window missed an opportunity.

4. Former Orioles prospect Josh Hader is MLB.com’s top left-handed pitching prospect, which will make fans groan in light of their current system. It’s easy to call the Bud Norris trade a failure given his disastrous 2015, but his 2014 season and playoff win against Detroit make it easier to stomach.

5. It’s difficult to believe the 25th anniversary of the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards will arrive this April, and Stadium Journey again recognized it as the top stadium experience in North America. Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium also ranked 14th and topped all NFL facilities on the list.

6. My fondness for Camden Yards aside, the Orioles donning jersey patches and using special baseballs all season for the 25th anniversary after making such a big deal out of the ballpark’s 20th feels excessive.

7. I like the acquisition of Seth Smith and believe he will be a solid addition to the lineup, but the Orioles’ potential reliance on multiple platoons is going to be problematic in this era of extreme bullpen use. Finding another bat who can hit left-handed pitching is a must.

8. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised since Scott Boras represents him, but I’m surprised that Matt Wieters hasn’t found a new home yet. The Orioles were still wise to sign Welington Castillo on the cheap and not endure the waiting game for a catcher turning 31 in May.

9. The retrospectives to Wieters’ time with the Orioles only reminded me that Chris Hoiles is one of the most underrated players in club history. Per Baseball Reference, Hoiles was worth 23.4 wins above replacement in 894 career games while Wieters is at 16.3 in 882 games.

10. I’m interested to see what lingering effect Brad Brach’s arbitration case could have as the 2016 All-Star selection reportedly filed at $3.05 million while the Orioles offered $2.525 million. The right-hander took his second-half struggles hard and undoubtedly would be reminded of those in a February hearing.

11. The Orioles defense led the American League with 50 defensive runs saved in 2014 and followed that with minus-9 in 2015 and minus-29 last year. The outfield ranked last in the AL in 2016 at minus-52. Smith and Castillo alone aren’t fixing such a steep overall defensive decline.

12. Adam Jones is coming off a rough year, but he’s a solid bet to bounce back despite entering his age-31 season. His .280 batting average on balls in play was a career low and suggests tough luck while his walk rate, strikeout rate, and average exit velocity improved from 2015.

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Orioles avoid arbitration with Machado, Britton, Tillman, Schoop

Posted on 13 January 2017 by Luke Jones

Facing a 1 p.m. deadline on Friday to exchange salary figures with players eligible for arbitration, the Orioles came to terms on contracts with four key cogs to their success over the last few years.

Third baseman Manny Machado ($11.5 million), closer Zach Britton ($11.4 million), starting pitcher Chris Tillman ($10.05 million), and second baseman Jonathan Schoop ($3.475 million) all agreed to one-year deals for the 2017 season. Tillman is scheduled to become a free agent after the season while Machado and Britton remain under club control until the end of 2018. Schoop does not become a free agent until after the 2019 season.

After failing to come to terms, the Orioles exchanged salary figures with starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, reliever Brad Brach, and catcher Caleb Joseph. Multiple outlets have reported that the Orioles intend to take a “file-and-trial” approach with any unresolved cases, which would mean they would not negotiate any further with these players before arbitration hearings that would be scheduled for next month.

It comes as no surprise after they played such crucial parts in recent trips to the postseason, but Machado, Britton, Tillman, and Schoop will combine to command nearly $18 million more in salary than they did in 2016. That’s a major reason why the Orioles are projected to have a payroll well north of $150 million for the 2017 season.

Baltimore came to terms on one-year deals with utility infielder Ryan Flaherty ($1.8 million) and left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland ($685,000) on Thursday.

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Orioles swap Gallardo for Seattle outfielder Seth Smith

Posted on 06 January 2017 by Luke Jones

With a crowded collection of ho-hum options for the back of the rotation and a need for a corner outfielder, the Orioles addressed both issues on Friday.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette traded veteran starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for outfielder Seth Smith. The swap will reportedly save the Orioles around $4 million for the 2017 season while upgrading the roster, making it a good trade on paper.

Smith, 34, immediately becomes the favorite to start in right field and batted .249 with 16 home runs, 63 RBIs, and a .342 on-base percentage in 2016. He holds a career .344 OBP, a skill the Orioles clearly have been lacking in recent seasons.

He also wore out Baltimore pitching in 2016, going 10-for-28 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He is signed through the 2017 season and will make $7 million. He spent the last two seasons with the Mariners after previous stops in San Diego, Oakland, and Colorado.

“Seth Smith brings veteran leadership, experience, and an accomplished bat to the Orioles,” Duquette said in a statement. “We look forward to him contributing to the 2017 club.”

The left-handed hitter does not come without flaws, however, as he owns a career .594 on-base plus slugging percentage against lefty pitchers, making it clear that he needs to be matched with a platoon right-handed bat. Smith was worth minus-seven defensive runs saved in the Mariners outfield this past season, but he fared much better in right field than in left.

His addition would not prohibit the Orioles from still re-signing 2016 home run champion Mark Trumbo to serve as the full-time designated hitter.

The trade closes the book on Gallardo, who will go down as one of the worst signings of the Duquette era. After concerns rose about his right shoulder last February, Gallardo signed a two-year, $22 million contract that also required the Orioles to forfeit their 2016 first-round pick. The deal included a club option for the 2018 season worth $13 million with a $2 million buyout.

The 30-year-old right-hander spent two months on the disabled list and posted a 6-8 record with a 5.42 ERA. He walked a career-high 4.7 batters per nine innings and finished with a career-worst 1.59 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) in 118 innings, his lowest total since 2008.

His departure leaves a projected 2017 Opening Day rotation of Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley, and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Of course, this wouldn’t the first time the Orioles have felt good about a trade with the Mariners in recent years. They acquired Trumbo in exchange for backup catcher Steve Clevenger last winter and famously plucked Tillman and future All-Star center fielder Adam Jones from Seattle as the biggest pieces in the famous Erik Bedard trade nine years ago.

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Orioles non-tender Worley, offer contracts to nine others

Posted on 02 December 2016 by Luke Jones

Facing Friday’s deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players, the Orioles elected not to retain the rights to right-handed pitcher Vance Worley while offering contracts to nine other players.

The 29-year-old will now become a free agent while Baltimore tendered right-handed relief pitcher Brad Brach, left-handed closer Zach Britton, utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, right-handed starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, catcher Caleb Joseph, third baseman Manny Machado, left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and right-handed starter Chris Tillman. According to MLB Trade Rumors, those nine are projected to receive a total of $46.8 million next season.

Teams and tendered players do not exchange salary figures for arbitration until January, and most players agree to contracts long before the possible occurrence of a February hearing.

In 86 2/3 innings that included four starts and 31 relief appearances, Worley pitched to a 3.53 ERA with a 1.37 WHIP, 5.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and 3.6 walks per nine frames. Having pitched just one season in Baltimore, Worley was projected to make $3.3 million in 2017, which is pricey for a long reliever.

The Orioles could try to re-sign Worley at a cheaper rate, but they would prefer to turn to a younger — and cheaper — option such as Tyler Wilson or Mike Wright to fill his role in the bullpen. They also acquired former Rule 5 pick and right-handed pitcher Logan Verrett from the New York Mets for cash considerations earlier this week.

Earlier on Friday, Baltimore claimed outfielder Adam Walker off waivers from Minnesota. The 25-year-old hit 27 home runs and struck out 202 times playing for Triple-A Rochester and has yet to play in the majors in his professional career.

With Worley’s departure and Walker’s addition, the Orioles now have 36 players on their 40-man roster.

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Trumbo rejects Orioles’ qualifying offer to become free agent

Posted on 14 November 2016 by Luke Jones

Outfielder Mark Trumbo rejected the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer on Monday, officially making him a free agent.

His decision to turn down the one-year offer was expected after Trumbo led the major leagues with 47 home runs in 2016. The Orioles will now receive a compensatory draft pick at the end of the first round of the 2017 draft should Trumbo sign with another club this winter.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles have expressed interest in re-signing the 30-year-old to a long-term deal, but they would prefer to make him their regular designated hitter while upgrading their defense in right field. Despite a career-high .850 on-base plus slugging percentage to go along with 108 runs batted in, Trumbo finished at minus-11 defensive runs saved in the outfield, which damaged his overall value as a player.

Because of that below-average defense, Trumbo finished 11th on the 2016 Orioles in wins above replacement at 1.6, according to Baseball Reference.

His career season at the plate earned Trumbo an invitation to his second All-Star Game as well as a Silver Slugger Award, but he hit just .214 with a .754 OPS after the All-Star break. His .256 batting average for the season was just above his career .251 mark.

Trumbo is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to fetch a four-year, $60 million deal that wouldn’t be far off the four-year, $57 million contract Seattle gave former Oriole Nelson Cruz two years ago, but it remains to be seen how the draft-pick stipulation might impact Trumbo’s value on the open market, especially with a number of other attractive outfield options available.

Seven other major league free agents rejected qualifying offers from their former teams before Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline: outfielders Jose Bautista (Toronto), Yoenis Cespedes (New York Mets), Ian Desmond (Texas), and Dexter Fowler (Chicago Cubs), first baseman Edwin Encarnacion (Toronto), closer Kenley Jansen (Los Angeles Dodgers), and third baseman Justin Turner (Dodgers). Two players — Mets second baseman Neil Walker and Philadelphia starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson — accepted offers to remain with their current clubs for the 2017 season.

Trumbo becomes the fourth player to reject a qualifying offer from the Orioles over the last three offseasons, joining Cruz, starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen, and first baseman Chris Davis. Of course, Davis eventually signed a seven-year, $161 million deal to remain in Baltimore last winter while Chen and Cruz signed elsewhere.

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