The Orioles have signed left-hander Kelvin De La Cruz to a one-year, Major League contract, the team announced on Twitter. Baltimore's 40-man roster now sits at 32 players. De La Cruz is represented by Steve Schneider of Elite Sports Group.
De La Cruz, 25, has never appeared at the Major League level but enjoyed an impressive 2013 campaign with the Dodgers' Triple-A affiliate. The Venezuelan hurler pitched to a 2.89 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 5.1 BB/9 in 62 1/3 innings. Opposing lefties batted just .217/.298/.261 against De La Cruz. He walked lefties at a 10.4 percent clip, which is an improvement from his 12.7 percent clip against right-handers.
A Major League deal for a career minor leaguer is a rarity on the free agent market, but this is the second time we've seen this in as many days. The Royals inked minor league catcher Francisco Pena to a Major League contract as well, so it'll be interesting to see if these are two isolated incidents or this becomes a trend of the 2013-14 offseason. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com spoke with Orioles GM Dan Duquette, who told him that De La Cruz is about ready to pitch in the Majors and had multiple teams offer him a big league deal (Twitter link).