Tag Archive | "Orioles"

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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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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Orioles rumblings from general managers’ meetings

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Orioles rumblings from general managers’ meetings

Posted on 13 November 2014 by Luke Jones

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

No, we’re not talking about the upcoming holiday season, but rather the Orioles’ annual interest in veteran pitcher A.J. Burnett. Yahoo Sports reported Thursday from the general managers’ meetings in Arizona that Baltimore has offered the right-hander a contract, but the sides are not close. Several conflicting reports have since said the Orioles haven’t offered Burnett a deal.

(Editor’s note: The Pittsburgh Pirates agreed to a one-year deal with Burnett on Friday afternoon.)

The Monkton resident’s name has regularly come up in recent years, but it’s unclear why the Orioles would still be interested in a soon-to-be 38-year-old pitcher who posted a 4.59 ERA with Philadelphia last season. His performance more closely resembled that of Ubaldo Jimenez than the rest of the Baltimore rotation in 2014 as Burnett’s 4.0 walks per nine innings rate was his worst since 2009. His 8.0 strikeouts per nine innings would have some appeal, but a 1.409 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) wouldn’t figure to improve shifting back to the American League for his 17th major league season.

It makes sense for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette to seek starting pitching depth as it’d be a stretch to project five starters each posting an ERA below 4.00 for the second straight year, but Burnett would be pricey and doesn’t represent a clear upgrade over any starter the Orioles currently have. With the Orioles already having six projected starters including the disappointing Jimenez and his albatross contract, adding Burnett would only make sense if they were packaging someone like Miguel Gonzalez or Bud Norris in a trade for a piece to significantly improve another area of the club.

Burnett declined a $12.75 million option to remain with the Phillies and if he’s looking for anything even approaching that, the Orioles shouldn’t be wasting time considering him, let alone making an offer.

* Speaking of Jimenez, the reports of the Orioles being open to trading the right-hander are a nice thought, but who is willingly inheriting the remaining three years of a $50 million contract to take him off the club’s hands?

I feel confident in predicting Jimenez will improve on his 4.81 ERA and horrendous 5.5 walks per nine innings rate from 2014, but the Orioles aren’t finding a suitor without paying a sizable portion of the roughly $39 million he’s still owed or taking on an equally-terrible contract of another player.

* The Orioles continue working on a contract extension with right fielder Nick Markakis with Yahoo Sports reporting the sides are closing in on a four-year deal worth $10 million to $12 million per season that could be done soon.

I recently examined how far the Orioles should go to keep the longtime right fielder and the reported price per season isn’t shocking, but offering four years is a lot for a player who’s shown marked decline in power and range over the last three to four seasons. Kudos to Duquette and the organization should they finish a deal to keep a lifelong Oriole whose value extends beyond the statistics, but the final year or two on a contract of that nature is likely to be cringe-worthy come 2017 and 2018.

* It will be interesting to see what impact the Victor Martinez extension has on free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz.

The soon-to-be 36-year-old Martinez agreed to a four-year, $68 million to remain with the Tigers while the 34-year-old Cruz reportedly wants a five-year deal from potential free-agent suitors. Martinez had the superior year with a .335 average and a league-leading .974 on-base plus slugging percentage and is a better overall hitter, but his re-signing makes Cruz the most attractive designated hitter remaining on the market.

To this point, the Orioles are unwilling to go beyond three years to keep Cruz, who led the majors with 40 home runs, so his demands will need to come down to remain in Baltimore unless there is a change of heart.

* The Orioles have repeatedly shot down a rumor that they’ve offered free agent Billy Butler a three-year, $30 million contract, which is good news.

Not only is the right-handed DH coming off a poor season in which he posted a .702 OPS, but he cannot play defense, which wouldn’t be appealing as manager Buck Showalter likes flexibility with the DH spot to provide some rest to his veteran position players. You’d gladly live with a potent bat from a guy like Martinez in that permanent role, but Butler’s slugging percentage has dropped from .510 in 2012 to .412 in 2013 to a career-low .379 this season.

On top of the declining numbers, the 28-year-old Butler has a reputation for being a malcontent, which makes him even less appealing to a club like the Orioles with such a positive clubhouse culture.

* Reports indicate left-handed reliever Andrew Miller is seeking a lucrative four-year deal.

“There’s an awful lot of interest in him, I’m hearing, down here,” Duquette said on MLB Network Wednesday. “He likes Baltimore, too. We heard from his family. His wife liked it there. She was very comfortable, so we’re going to try on that one as well.”

It remains highly unlikely that the tall southpaw returns to the Orioles.

 

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Showalter named 2014 AL Manager of the Year

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Showalter named 2014 AL Manager of the Year

Posted on 11 November 2014 by Luke Jones

After guiding the Orioles to 96 wins and their first American League East division title in 17 years, Buck Showalter was officially named 2014 AL Manager of the Year Tuesday night.

Receiving 25 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, Showalter finished ahead of fellow finalists Mike Scioscia and Ned Yost to win the third Manager of the Year award of his career. The 58-year-old also won in 1994 with the New York Yankees and 2004 while managing the Texas Rangers, but some regarded 2014 as possibly Showalter’s finest managerial job.

Losing All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and All-Star third baseman Manny Machado to season-ending injuries and 2013 home run king Chris Davis to a 25-game suspension for amphetamine use, Showalter and the Orioles didn’t blink as they pulled away from the rest of the division in August to win the AL East by 12 games. An expert at manipulating his roster, Showalter received meaningful contributions from career journeymen such as Steve Pearce as well as longtime minor leaguers like rookie catcher Caleb Joseph.

Though voting was completed at the end of the regular season, Showalter also guided the Orioles to their first postseason series win since 1997 before they were swept by the Kansas City Royals in the AL Championship Series. This was the fourth different club he’d taken to the playoffs and second time he’d made it with the Orioles.

Showalter has 1,259 career wins in 16 seasons as a major league manager, third on the active list. He is 377-328 in five seasons as the Baltimore skipper since being named the 19th manager in club history on Aug. 2, 2010. From the day he arrived in Baltimore, Showalter began changing a losing culture that had persisted for more than a decade and led the 2012 Orioles to the AL wild card, ending a stretch of 14 consecutive losing seasons. The Orioles have now posted three consecutive winning season for the first time since 1992 through 1994.

He becomes the third manager in franchise history to be named AL Manager of the Year, joining Frank Robinson in 1989 and Davey Johnson in 1997.

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Duquette named Sporting News Executive of the Year

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Duquette named Sporting News Executive of the Year

Posted on 11 November 2014 by Luke Jones

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette was named Sporting News Executive of the Year Monday night after guiding the Orioles to their first American League East title since 1997.

Duquette received the award from a panel of 33 major league executives who voted before the start of the 2014 postseason. This is the second time the 56-year-old has received the honor after previously winning with the Montreal Expos in 1992.

It’s not often that an executive receives the honor in the same year his most expensive acquisition — right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — was an utter failure, but Duquette made plenty of savvy moves including signing slugger Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million contract. His best work, however, may have come during the season when he acquired left-handed reliever Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline and outfielder Alejandro De Aza before the waiver trade deadline in late August.

Other below-the-radar moves that paid major dividends for the Orioles in 2014 included Duquette being able to persuade Steve Pearce to re-sign after he was designated for assignment in April as well as adding right-hander Brad Brach, who blossomed into a reliable member of the Baltimore bullpen, and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Delmon Young last winter.

Duquette edged Kansas City Royals general manager Dayton Moore by one vote to receive the honor.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will name its American League Manager of the Year Tuesday night with Orioles manager Buck Showalter one of three finalists.

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Cruz among 12 MLB free agents to reject qualifying offers

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Cruz among 12 MLB free agents to reject qualifying offers

Posted on 10 November 2014 by Luke Jones

Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline came and went with slugger Nelson Cruz rejecting the Orioles’ $15.3 million qualifying offer as expected.

In fact, all 12 free agents given qualifying offers by their respective 2014 clubs last week declined the one-year, $15.3 million contract. In the three offseasons since the concept was added to the current collective bargaining agreement, none of 34 qualifying offers have been accepted.

Cruz was expected to reject the offer all along as he seeks a multi-year deal after signing a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles last spring. The 34-year-old is reportedly looking for at least a four-year contract while executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and the Orioles would prefer a shorter deal for Cruz, who is coming off a career season.

Should Cruz sign a contract with another team, the Orioles would receive a compensatory pick at the conclusion of the first round of June’s amateur draft. Any club signing a free agent who received a qualifying offer from his previous team must forfeit its first-round pick unless the team is picking in the top 10. In those cases, a team would then surrender its next-highest pick.

Representatives for Cruz and fellow free-agent outfielder Nick Markakis are expected to hold discussions with other clubs at this week’s Major League Baseball general managers’ meetings in Phoenix. The Orioles and Markakis have been discussing terms for what’s believed to be a four-year extension but have been unable to finalize a deal to this point.

The other free agents to reject qualifying offers were Michael Cuddyer (Colorado), Pablo Sandoval (San Francisco), Max Scherzer (Detroit), Victor Martinez (Detroit), Francisco Liriano (Pittsburgh), Russell Martin (Pittsburgh), Hanley Ramirez (Los Angeles Dodgers), James Shields (Kansas City), David Robertson (New York Yankees), Melky Cabrera (Toronto), and Ervin Santana (Atlanta).

Cuddyer became the first significant free agent to change teams Monday when he agreed to a two-year, $21 million contract with the New York Mets.

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Showalter named finalist for AL Manager of the Year

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Showalter named finalist for AL Manager of the Year

Posted on 04 November 2014 by Luke Jones

After guiding the Orioles to their first division championship since 1997, Buck Showalter was named one of three finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s American League Manager of the Year award.

The winner will be announced on Nov. 11 as Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia and Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost were named the other finalists on Tuesday. Voting was completed at the end of the regular season, meaning the playoffs do not factor into the decision.

The Orioles won 96 games in 2014 and advanced to the AL Championship Series for the first time since 1997 before they were swept by Kansas City. Baltimore swept the Detroit Tigers in the AL Division Series.

Showalter was named a finalist two years ago when the BBWAA named Oakland’s Bob Melvin as the winner. The Orioles manager previously received the honor in 1994 when he managed the New York Yankees and in 2004 when he was the skipper of the Texas Rangers.

Last month, Showalter finished second to Scioscia in this year’s Sporting News AL Manager of the Year award by one vote.

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Hardy, Jones, Markakis take home 2014 Gold Glove awards

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Hardy, Jones, Markakis take home 2014 Gold Glove awards

Posted on 04 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Orioles were further recognized for their run of excellent defense over the last three years with shortstop J.J. Hardy and outfielders Adam Jones and Nick Markakis winning 2014 American League Gold Glove awards on Tuesday.

Hardy and Jones each won their third consecutive Rawlings fielding honors while Markakis won the second of his career and first since the 2011 season.

The Orioles and Kansas City Royals led the major leagues with three winners each in the 2014 season. Jones and Hardy are the first pair of teammates to win three consecutive Gold Gloves since Brett Boone and Ichiro Suzuki did it for the Seattle Mariners from 2002 through 2004.

Hardy joined Mark Belanger as only the second Orioles shortstop to win three straight Gold Gloves, but Belanger won six straight from 1973 through 1978. In 2014, the 32-year-old ranked seventh among all AL fielders in defensive wins above replacement (2.1) and ranked third among AL shortstops in fielding percentage (.978).

His three Gold Glove awards are second among active shortstops as only Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins (four) has more.

“This is a special award for me because of the fact that the opposing managers and coaches are the voters,” Hardy said in a statement released by the club. “Obviously, I have a lot of respect for them and their knowledge of the game. A lot of credit goes to [third-base coach] Bobby Dickerson, who puts in a lot of time and effort with us and puts us in a position to be successful.”

Jones led AL center fielders in games played (155) and ranked fourth in assists (seven) while posting a 0.8 dWAR. The 29-year-old won his first Gold Glove in 2009 and joins Paul Blair as the only Orioles outfielders to win at least four Gold Glove awards. Blair won seven straight from 1969 through 1975.

In 2014, Markakis led AL right fielders in games (147), putouts (295), and fielding percentage (1.000) while ranking second in assists (11). However, the veteran outfielder posted a -0.5 dWAR, which isn’t a great endorsement from a metric standpoint and could reflect his declining range.

Both Jones and Markakis offered credit to first-base coach Wayne Kirby for his work with the outfield.

“It is an individual award, but a lot of people contribute to it,” Markakis said. “Wayne Kirby is a great influence on the outfielders and does a great job preparing us and putting us in the right position to make plays.”

The Orioles have now won at least three Gold Gloves in three consecutive seasons for the third time in franchise history (1969-71 and 1973-76). All other major league clubs have combined for a total of three such streaks (St. Louis 2002-04, Philadelphia 1976-79, and Cincinnati 1974-77).

This year marks the 20th time the Orioles have had multiple Gold Glove winners in the same year and the 11th time in which the Orioles have had at least three Gold Glove winners in the same season. Seventeen different Orioles players have earned a total of 70 Gold Gloves since the award was created in 1957, the second-highest total for any team behind the St. Louis Cardinals (85).

The selection process is 75 percent votes submitted by managers and coaches and 25 percent defensive metrics. Manager and coaches may not vote for their own players and can only vote for the awards in their own league.

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