Baltimore Orioles Rumors

Baltimore Orioles trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

Here is today’s list of minor arbitration settlements, with all projections coming via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • The Orioles and Steve Pearce have agreed to a one-year deal that will pay the first baseman/outfielder a sizable $3.7MM sum, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Pearce had an unexpected breakout season with the O’s in 2014, batting a whopping .293/.373/.556 with 21 homers after spending the first seven season of his career in relative obscurity. The 31-year-old entered the 2014 campaign with a pedestrian .238/.318/.377 batting line over the life of 847 big league appearances. The unique nature of Pearce’s breakout led him to vastly surpass the $2.2MM estimate of Swartz’s projection model. His $3.7MM settling point was the exact midpoint of the $5.4MM at which he filed and the $2MM figure submitted by the Orioles (which is one of the more notable gaps you’ll see in arb filing numbers). With his case settled, the Orioles have only Zach Britton, Alejandro De Aza and Miguel Gonzalez remaining.

Remember, all arbitration situations can be monitored using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.


AL East Notes: A-Rod, Red Sox, Hendrickson

It’s been a busy day around the AL East, as the Blue Jays made a pair of minor league signings, Dan Duquette spoke about his situation and other Orioles topics, and we collected some Rays notes.  Here’s some more from around the division…

  • The MLBPA would support Alex Rodriguez if the Yankees attempt to withhold his $6MM contract bonus for tying Willie Mays on the all-time homer list, Dan Martin of the New York Post reports.  “The union would challenge any breach of contract with the union,” a source close to the MLBPA tells Martin. “A player can’t be punished again for something he’s already been punished for.”  The MLBPA’s argument is that A-Rod is being further penalized for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, while the Yankees intend to argue that the homer bonuses are based around marketing and Rodriguez’s diminished reputation around baseball has negated any celebration of the milestone.
  • “In some ways, the importance of ‘No. 1 starters’ has been devalued by the sheer quality of arms, in general, in today’s run-squelching environment, and mid-inning matchup play has increased the prominence of the bullpens,” MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince writes in an examination of how the Red Sox may not need a proven ace atop their rotation.  Boston could model itself after the Orioles, whose recent success has been based around defense, relief pitching and big hitting rather than a superb rotation.  On the other hand, Castrovince notes that the Sox could make a move for an ace at midseason if necessary, or any of the Boston rotation could still emerge as a true frontline starter as the season develops.
  • The Orioles are “leaning toward” extending a Spring Training invitation to left-hander Mark Hendrickson, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko reports.  The 40-year-old Hendrickson pitched for the O’s from 2009-11 and hasn’t appeared in the majors since, spending 2013 with the Orioles’ Triple-A team and 2014 in independent ball.  Kubatko notes that the Orioles are interested in hiring Hendrickson as a pitching coach within the organization when he eventually retires.

Duquette On Blue Jays, Snider, Reimold

Before a dinner event at the Orioles’ A-ball affiliate in Aberdeen this evening, executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette spoke to reporters (including MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun) about both his own tumultuous offseason and some other hot stove topics.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Duquette doesn’t discuss ongoing negotiations for players, and that same logic led to his lack of comment about the rumors connecting him to the Blue Jays president’s job, and the discussions between the Jays and Orioles about a possible trade to free him from his Baltimore contract.  “You know, these things happen in baseball. This is rare, but sometimes trades are made for managers, sometimes trades are made for executives and that’s the way it goes,” Duquette said.  “It’s a part of the business. If there’s trade discussions that I have as an executive, I really don’t talk about those publicly, because you never know what’s going to come to fruition and what’s not.”
  • Despite the Toronto situation, Duquette described his Orioles offseason work as “business as usual” and said he didn’t feel it necessary to reiterate his commitment to O’s upper management.  “I’ve always done my job 24 hours a day and to the best of my ability,” Duquette said. “That’s a habit. We’re going to have another good ballclub this year. I’m confident of that.”
  • The O’s have offered Nolan Reimold a contract, Duquette said, though he noted that the outfielder is also receiving interest from other teams.  The Indians are known to be one of the clubs linked to Reimold this winter.
  • Duquette said he is still looking to add a right-handed bullpen arm.
  • The Orioles’ recent acquisition of Travis Snider gives the club added depth both offensively and defensively, Duquette said, and he thinks Snider’s bat is a good fit for Camden Yards.  Duquette and Pirates GM Neal Huntington had originally discussed a Snider deal during the Winter Meetings, though talks were only rekindled a few weeks ago.  “I had stayed in touch with Neal because we were still looking for a left-handed-hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available,” Duquette said.


Orioles Acquire Travis Snider

8:23pm: Pirates GM Neal Huntington tells reporters, including Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link), that the player to be named later will be “similar” to Tarpley. It seems worth noting, then, that Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported earlier tonight that fellow Class-A left-hander Steven Brault was a possible name that could exchange hands.

7:32pm: It’s been a quiet offseason for the Orioles in terms of outfield additions, but the team announced today that it has struck a deal to acquire Travis Snider from the Pirates in exchange for Class-A left-hander Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later.

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Snider, who turns 27 next week, represents the first outfield addition to an Orioles club that has already lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz this offseason (though the team did also re-sign Delmon Young). Where he fits into the overall picture for the Orioles is a bit less clear, as the team already has a pair of left-handed hitting corner outfielders in Alejandro De Aza and David Lough. However, Lough doesn’t have the same offensive ceiling as Snider and may be considered more of a fourth outfield option for the Orioles follwing this trade.

Snider, formerly a Top 10 prospect in all of baseball per both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, has not lived up to that billing nor his lofty draft status (14th overall in 2006), but he enjoyed a strong season at the plate in 2014 with Pittsburgh. After a slow start, Snider recovered to slash .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances. Specifically, Snider was excellent after the All-Star break, hitting .288/.356/.524 in 188 plate appearances.

The Pirates and Snider have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary for 2015, thereby avoiding arbitration. Snider will be arb-eligible again next winter for the final time before hitting the free agent market in the 2016-17 offseason.

As for the Orioles, they’ll acquire a 21-year-old former third-round pick (98th overall in 2013) in the form of Tarpley. The Arizona native spent 2014 with short-season Class-A Aberdeen, working to a 3.68 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 66 innings of work (12 starts, one relief appearance). Tarpley recently ranked 14th on MLB.com’s list of Top 20 Orioles prospects and last winter ranked 21st on Baseball America’s list of Top 30 Orioles prospects. BA noted that Tarpley has the stuff to start, with a 90-92 mph fastball that touches 96 at times in addition to a curveball and changeup. He previously had a slider in his arsenal as well, though the Orioles opted to scrap that pitch so he could focus on his change, per BA. MLB.com praised him as an arm with upside, touting not only solid curveball and a changeup that shows potential, but also his pitchability and size.

Even more recently, Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel ranked Tarpley ninth among Orioles’ prospects, noting that one scout labeled his curveball as a 70 (on the 20-80 scale), but Tarpley is inconsistent due to both inconsistent mechanics and some maturity/makeup issues, though he looks to be coming around on that front.

Beyond that, however, are the implications for the Pirates’ 2015 roster. With Snider out of the picture, a path is likely cleared for top prospect Gregory Polanco to receive everyday at-bats in right field. Polanco got off to a blistering start in 2014 but quickly cooled and eventually lost time to Snider in the second half. The Pirates will surely hope that Polanco’s 2015 batting line will more closely resemble his .328/.390/.504 batting line from Triple-A than his .235/.307/.343 Major League triple-slash.

Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun first reported that the two sides were nearing a deal. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports then reported that an agreement had been reached, and Tarpley was headed to Pittsburgh (Twitter link). Connolly added (on Twitter) that a PTBNL would be in the deal as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Orioles Designate Michael Ohlman For Assignment

The Orioles announced that they have designated catcher Michael Ohlman for assignment in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for the newly acquired Travis Snider.

Ohlman, 24, spent this past season with Double-A Bowie in the Orioles’ minor league ranks, hitting .236/.310/.318 with a pair of homers in 113 trips to the plate. That production represented a significant step back from his 2013 campaign — a strong .313/.410/.524 showing with 13 home runs in the Class-A Advanced Carolina League. Baseball America ranked him ninth among Orioles’ prospects just last offseason, although clearly his poor showing in 2014 caused his stock to slip. In their report, BA noted that Ohlman’s 6’5″ frame is large for a catcher, and he struggles with both receiving and pitch blocking, though they did note that he possesses solid-average arm strength.


Orioles, Pirates Closing In On Travis Snider Trade

6:36pm: One name involved in talks, according to Connolly, is Class-A left-hander Steven Brault (Twitter links). Connolly gets the sense that if Brault and a second prospect are sent to the Pirates, the second player would be a hitter.

5:06pm: The Orioles are attempting to acquire Snider for “less” than two minor leaguers at present, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com.

4:47pm: Connolly adds, via Twitter, that the two sides could be closing in on a deal, and a trade could be agreed upon within the next day.

4:42pm: The Orioles and Pirates have rekindled their previous trade talks regarding Travis Snider, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. While Connolly cautions that a deal is not complete, it seems that the general parameters have been discussed in some depth, as he adds that Snider would cost the Orioles one or two non-40-man prospects — at least one pitcher and possibly another player (that could also be a pitcher).

The 26-year-old Snider (27 next week), formerly one of the Top 10 prospects in all of baseball according to both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus, never was able to live up to those lofty expectations, but he enjoyed a solid season in 2014. Last year with the Pirates, the former Blue Jays top pick batted .264/.338/.438 with 13 homers in 359 plate appearances.

Snider and the Pirates have already agreed to a $2.1MM salary this season, avoiding arbitration. He’s controllable through the 2016 season, as he currently has four years, 91 days of Major League service time. Previous talks regarding Snider involved Brian Matusz, according to Connolly, though he is not under consideration as a part of this deal.

The Orioles lost both Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz to free agency this offseason and have yet to replace either, with the current starting outfield projecting to feature Alejandro De Aza in left field, Adam Jones in center and David Lough in right field. Both Steve Pearce and Delmon Young could serve as right-handed options at the outfield corners, though Young figures to spend most of his time at DH. The left-handed hitting Snider would give the Orioles a third lefty-swinging corner option, though perhaps the team feels that the defensively oriented Lough is best deployed as a fourth outfielder.


AL East Notes: Monbouquette, A-Rod, Blue Jays, Orioles

Former Red Sox starter Bill Monbouquette passed away Sunday at age 78. The Massachusetts native tossed nearly 2,000 MLB frames, most of them with Boston, and notched a no-hitter in 1962. He was a three-time American League All-Star. MLBTR extends its sympathies to his family and friends.

Here are some recent notes from the AL East:

  • We’ve already heard it suggested that the Yankees could seek to invalidate Alex Rodriguez‘s home run milestone bonus clause, and ESPNNewYork.com’s Andrew Marchand now reports that the team is indeed attempting to craft a legal strategy to that end. If you are interested in thinking about what kinds of arguments the club might come up with, I addressed this very question in a series of posts last year regarding legal theories and remedies that teams could conceivably pursue against players suspended for PED use. The third part, in particular, covered A-Rod’s situation, while Part II (and, to a lesser extent, Part I) include useful background information.
  • The Blue Jays and Orioles now seem destined to return to the status quo in their front offices, at least for the coming season, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that both sides made missteps in the recent run of Dan Duquette-to-Toronto rumors.
  • For his part, once-and-still Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston says that he is glad to still be with the team and that it is time to move on, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Beeston added that he believes the ownership group would approve additional payroll if the club’s baseball leadership requests it.
  • As for the Orioles, it is time for Duquette and the organization to begin the process of re-establishing trust and normalcy, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The sides were never close to agreeing on compensation, Connolly adds, and Baltimore is still keeping open the possibility of filing tampering charges against Toronto.

Orioles Avoid Arbitration With Bud Norris

Th Orioles have avoided arbitration with right-hander Bud Norris by agreeing to a one-year deal that is worth $8.8MM, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Norris, who is represented by Joel Wolfe of the Wasserman Media Group, settled slightly below the $8.875MM midpoint between his asking price of $10.25MM and the team’s counter of $7.5MM, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. His final figure is just $100K off from the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, who pegged Norris at $8.7MM.

Norris’ contract, according to Connolly, also calls for him to receive a $25K bonus for reaching 180 innings pitched and another $50K for reaching 200 innings. He can also receive a $50K bonus for making the All-Star team and a $50K bonus for winning a Gold Glove award. The innings incentives could be problematic for Norris to reach, as he’s topped 180 frames just once in his career (186 in 2011) and has never reached the 200 milestone.

This marks the final trip through the arbitration process for the 29-year-old Norris, who will be eligible for free agency next winter as he heads into his age-31 season (Norris turns 30 in March). The 2014 campaign marked Norris’ first full season with Baltimore and it proved to be the best of his career in terms of ERA, as he worked to a 3.65 mark with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. The Orioles initially acquired Norris and an international bonus slot from the Astros at the 2013 trade deadline in exchange for left-hander Josh Hader, outfielder L.J. Hoes and a Competitive Balance (Round A) draft pick.


Orioles Sign Chris Parmelee, Dane De La Rosa

The Orioles announced today that they have signed first baseman/outfielder Chris Parmelee and righties Dane De La Rosa and Steve Johnson to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training.

Parmelee, who turns 27 next month, has the most service time of the three at two years, 58 days. The former first-round pick has built up an impressive track record at the Triple-A level, slashing .295/.395/.530 in 615 plate appearances, but he’s never hit much in the Majors outside of a September call-up with the Twins in 2011. Parmelee was a force that year, slashing .355/.443/.592 with four homers in 88 plate appearances in his big league debut. While that performance was clearly unsustainable, the Twins likely hoped for better than the .238/.304/.371 batting line that Parmelee compiled in 813 plate appearances over the three subsequent seasons. Presumably, he’ll compete for playing time in the outfield and at first base, although his outfield defense leaves quite a bit to be desired.

De La Rosa, who will be 32 next week, underwent knee surgery late in the season but was expected to be ready to go come Spring Training. Though he pitched just 2 1/3 big league innings in 2014, he was a vital cog in the 2013 Angels bullpen, appearing in a hefty 75 games and logging 72 1/3 total innings of 2.86 ERA ball with 8.1 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 51.3 percent ground-ball rate.


East Notes: Hoffman, Upton, Papelbon, De Aza, Yanks

The Orioles‘ reported asking price of right-hander Jeff Hoffman (and others) from the Blue Jays in exchange for executive vice president/GM Dan Duquette seemingly ended those negotiations, but Jeff Blair of Sportsnet reports that the Orioles weren’t the only club to try to acquire Hoffman from Toronto this winter. According to Blair, the Braves also asked the Blue Jays for Hoffman when the two sides discussed a trade involving Justin Upton. Toronto’s answer, Blair says, was an emphatic “no.” Coincidentally, the Braves wound up acquiring another high-upside, former first-round pitcher that’s recovering from Tommy John — Max Fried — as the centerpiece in their trade of Upton to San Diego. Meanwhile, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Blair that Hoffman, who was selected ninth overall in 2014 despite his surgery, is expected to get stretched back out in April, with an eye on activating him with a minor league club in May.

A few more notes pertaining to the game’s Eastern divisions before the northeast portion of the country is buried in snow…

  • The Phillies never presented the Brewers with a firm financial offer in their trade talks regarding Jonathan Papelbon, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Those talks appear to be largely dead at this point, and the Phillies may end up hanging on to Papelbon to begin the season, based on Rosenthal’s writings. He adds that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t under pressure from ownership to move Papelbon and will only trade him if the move is to the team’s benefit.
  • The acquisition of Alejandro De Aza last summer could end up being a key factor in the Orioles‘ 2015 season, as the former White Sox outfielder now looks to be a big piece of the roster, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. With Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis gone and no external replacements brought in, De Aza figures to be the team’s primary left fielder and leadoff hitter. Though that may seem an underwhelming option to some, Kubatko points out that De Aza’s career OBP mark (.330) would be a nice boost over last season’s team OBP of .311.
  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel takes a look at the Yankees‘ new glut of international prospects in his ranking of the team’s minor leaguers, with colleague Dave Cameron noting in an introduction that the team’s philosophical shift could pay off in spades a few years down the line. While the Yankees have always been known for spending significantly on free agency, they instead opted to go on a spending spree and blow past their allotted international bonus pool this year while exercising what some consider to be surprising restraint in terms of big league free agents.