- Righty Vance Worley has been non-tendered by the Orioles, per a team announcement. All of the team’s other eligible players have been tendered contracts. Worley had been projected to command $3.3MM in arbitration as a 4+ service-class player, but will instead hit the open market. The 29-year-old pitched to a 3.53 ERA in 86 2/3 innings last year with Baltimore, functioning mostly in a relief capacity. He has plenty of experience as a starter, however, and remains a possible swingman (or back-of-the-rotation) option for other organizations. Over his seven major league campaigns, Worley has posted a 3.75 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.
- The Brewers are trying to trade recently-designated-for-assignment slugger Chris Carter before tonight’s 8pm ET non-tender deadline tweets Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Orioles, who just claimed a player with a potentially similar skill set in Adam Walker, aren’t likely to make a play for Carter, per Heyman (whose tweet came prior to the Walker claim). Carter’s current scenario is somewhat reminiscent of last year’s Mark Trumbo situation, as he’s a player with prodigious power that the league isn’t valuing at his arbitration number due to defensive concerns, high strikeout tendencies and a questionable on-base percentage. The Mariners were able to get a nominal return for Trumbo rather than non-tendering him, but MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets that Milwaukee shopped Carter around for a month before designating him, so it seems unlikely that a trade will materialize in the next six hours.
The Orioles announced today that they’ve claimed outfielder Adam Walker off waivers from the Brewers. Milwaukee claimed Walker off waivers from the Twins two weeks ago but designated him for assignment last week when they claimed right-hander Steve Geltz from the Rays.
The 25-year-old Walker fits a profile that has become somewhat of a trend in Baltimore, as he possesses enormous power but brings little defensive value to the table and strikes out in abundance. The former third-round pick has received 60 and 65 grades for his raw power (on the 20-80 scouting scale), and has homered 58 times across the past two minor league seasons. However, he punched out an incredible 202 times in 531 plate appearances at the Triple-A level this season (38 percent) and whiffed at a 34.8 percent clip at Double-A in 2015. He also lacks any true defensive position, as he’s played left field recently but is projected by most to ultimately function as a first baseman or DH if he ever breaks into the Majors. The addition of the right-handed-hitting Walker gives the Orioles 37 players on their 40-man roster.
- Alderson also said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link) that he’d be “surprised” if the Mets got involved with a top-level center fielder in free agency due not only to the draft pick they’d have to forfeit (referring to Dexter Fowler and Ian Desmond) and also due to the fact that the team has other needs on the roster. Following the re-signing of Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets are looking to move an outfielder, with reports indicating that Jay Bruce is the name they hope to shed. However, Curtis Granderson is reportedly drawing more interest, and FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Orioles are among the teams with interest in Granderson (Twitter link). Baltimore doesn’t appear to have much interest in Bruce, however, he adds.
- The Orioles announced the signing of outfielder Logan Schafer to a minor-league deal. The six-year MLB veteran saw minimal time last year with the Twins. At Triple-A, he batted .272/.342/.382 with six homers and six stolen bases over 317 trips to the plate.
- Two pitchers are headed to the Pirates on minor-league contracts, per a club announcement. The Bucs will give a look to lefty Dan Runzler, who last appeared in the bigs in 2012 and put up a 5.82 ERA in 21 2/3 innings at Triple-A last year with the Twins. Also joining the Pittsburgh organization is righty Jason Stoffel, a 28-year-old who has spent plenty of time in the upper minors in recent years but hasn’t cracked the bigs. He recorded an impressive 2.44 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over 59 frames in 2016 in the Orioles organization, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A.
The Orioles announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Logan Verrett from the Mets in exchange for cash, which Jon Heyman of Fan Rag pegs at $50K, on Twitter. Verrett’s departure from the Mets will clear a spot on New York’s 40-man roster that’ll go to the newly re-signed Yoenis Cespedes.
[Related: Updated Baltimore Orioles Depth Chart]
The 26-year-old right-hander was a Rule 5 pick out of the Mets organization by the Orioles a couple of years back, so their interest in him goes back quite a ways. The former third-round pick pitched 91 2/3 innings with New York last season but posted a 5.20 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 and a 44.1 percent ground-ball rate in that time. Verrett has a considerably more solid 4.26 ERA in 238 2/3 innings with the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate (in a hitter-friendly setting).
For an Orioles team that is light on pitching at the big league level, Verrett will give the team an option that has big league experience as both a starter and a reliever. Verrett could potentially occupy a swingman role with the Orioles in 2017, which would further call into question the future of non-tender candidate Vance Worley in Baltimore.
- Angel Pagan is “definitely” on the Orioles’ radar as they look for help in the corner outfield and atop their lineup, reports Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com. Though he’s battled injuries in recent years, the 35-year-old somewhat quietly batted .277/.331/.418 with 12 homers and 15 steals in 543 plate appearances for the Giants last year, and Connolly notes that he’d fit the Orioles’ from an offensive, defensive and financial standpoint. Per Connolly, the Orioles aren’t likely to spend heavily to address their leadoff/right field need. In a separate column, he also writes about the possibility of a reunion between Pedro Alvarez and the O’s, noting that some in the organization feel Alvarez is the likeliest of the team’s free agents to return (over Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters). Connolly also writes that many of Alvarez’s teammates spoke highly of him as both a teammate and a person.
There are four teams heavily pursuing free-agent lefty Rich Hill, according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden. The Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers, and Astros are all said to be chasing down a pitcher who is arguably the best available on this year’s market. Also joining pursuit are the Red Sox and Orioles, per the report, though it seems their interest is less robust.
We’ve heard plenty of chatter about the possibility of the Yankees making a move on Hill, and the Dodgers likewise have long been said to have interest in a reunion. The AL West-rival Rangers and Astros, though, have not been tied as closely — in part, perhaps, since both have already signed starters — though MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes listed both as plausible suitors in his top-fifty free agent list. Meanwhile, the two AL East teams mentioned seemingly have fully stocked rotations, though surely both could stand to upgrade in the right situation.
Hill is coming off of an outstanding age-36 season. While he was limited to 110 1/3 innings, owing to a blister, the veteran southpaw recorded a sensational 2.12 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9. While there was justifiable skepticism last winter, following Hill’s four excellent, late-season starts in the prior campaign, he now seems worth pursuing as a possible top-of-the-rotation arm.
There’s plenty of reason to tamper contract expectations, of course. Even if one accepts that Hill can continue to mow down opposing hitters, he’s not young and comes with a long history of injuries. And it’s certainly possible that he’s in line for some regression in the earned-run department after limiting opposing hitters to just 0.33 home runs per nine innings a season ago.
Though he essentially uses just two pitches, Hill has baffled the opposition with a heater that barely averages 90 mph and a breaking ball that he can manipulate at will. And the recent results aren’t just a batted-ball-fortune fluke; he was credited with a 2.39 FIP, 3.36 xFIP, and 3.29 SIERA in 2016. With no other true impact starters available on the open market, and despite the obvious questions, MLBTR predicts that he’ll command a $50MM guarantee over three seasons.
- The Orioles have consistently made use of the Rule 5 draft in hopes of landing cheap diamonds in the rough, and they’ll once again take advantage of this year’s edition, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Among Baltimore’s recent selections are outfielder Joey Rickard (2015), left-hander T.J. McFarland (2012) and infielder Ryan Flaherty (2011). All three are still members of the organization, but major league success has mostly eluded them.
Matt Wieters’ poor ratings in terms of pitch-framing are weighing down his market, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney (ESPN Insider required). Olney spoke to multiple evaluators who believe that Wieters’ defense declined in 2016, and as he notes, a number of executives around the game are placing a greater emphasis on framing, which is perhaps why Jason Castro just landed a three-year deal despite poor offensive production dating back to the 2014 season. Per Olney, while both the Twins and Rays are interested in Castro, it’s not clear that either has any interest in Wieters. Olney lists the Orioles and Nationals as potential landing spots for Wieters and also adds that the Braves have expressed some interest, “but probably for far less than what [agent Scott Boras] wants.” Also worth a brief mention with regard to Wieters: Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com reports that he suffered a laceration to his non-throwing arm in a household mishap this offseason. The wound required stitches, and Wieters is wearing a protective shield for the time being, but he’s expected to be able to resume baseball activities in January. The injury shouldn’t see any delay in his readiness for Spring Training.