- Left-hander Tim Berry announced (on Instagram) that he’s back in the Orioles organization (h/t: MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). The 25-year-old rated as one of the Orioles’ top 30 prospects from 2011-15, in the eyes of Baseball America, but the past two seasons have been a struggle for him in the minors. Berry logged an unsightly 7.32 ERA in 82 1/3 innings with the Orioles’ Double-A affiliate in 2015, and he posted a 6.32 ERA across two levels between the Padres and Marlins organizations in 2016.
- Meanwhile, per Rosenthal, the Orioles remain interested in Michael Bourn despite adding another left-handed-hitting outfielder in Seth Smith. Baltimore wants to boost the glovework in its outfield mix, he says, and evidently remains favorably disposed toward the veteran after his late-season run with the club in 2016. It’s not immediately clear how things would look if Bourn joins Smith and Hyun Soo Kim as southpaw-swinging options, though presumably either of the existing players could also mix in at DH, while Bourn could also spell Adam Jones in center.
With “no movement” in talks between the Orioles and slugger Mark Trumbo, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, it is “becoming less likely” that the sides will line up on a new deal. There’s still some ongoing interest, he notes, but the sides haven’t made progress since their original talks halted.
Earlier in the offseason, there was reason to believe that Trumbo was destined to reprise his role as a corner outfielder and DH in Baltimore. But the O’s have reportedly pulled the four-year offer, reportedly worth over $50MM, that was dangled early in December.
It seems there’s little momentum at this point toward a reunion. Executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette suggested recently that the club has its eye on less costly alternatives. And the addition of lefty-hitting corner outfielder Seth Smith perhaps reduces the urgency of adding a bat — though, certainly, it doesn’t preclude a move on Trumbo or another righty.
Trumbo remains the top-rated player from MLBTR’s top 50 free agent list who has yet to sign. His leverage surely isn’t helped by the ongoing presence on the open market of fellow right-handed sluggers Mike Napoli and Chris Carter, each of whom also profiles best in a first base/DH role, along with a variety of powerful lefties such as Brandon Moss, Adam Lind, and Pedro Alvarez.
SUNDAY: The Orioles’ $4MM in savings will be spread over the next three seasons, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link).
FRIDAY, 12:30pm: Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun tweets that the Orioles will save about $4MM in total on the deal. That would suggest that about $2MM is headed to Seattle alongside Gallardo, who is guaranteed $13MM ($11MM salary + $2MM option buyout) to Smith’s $7MM.
12:11pm: The Mariners have acquired right-hander Yovani Gallardo and cash from the Orioles in exchange for corner outfielder Seth Smith, the teams announced today. The move fills an on-paper need for both clubs, as the Mariners have been seeking a starter to fill out their rotation, while Baltimore has been in search of a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder.
From the Orioles’ standpoint, that they were able to jettison Gallardo in exchange for a fairly useful role player comes as a surprise on the heels of a dismal, injury-plagued season for Gallardo. Set to turn 31 next month, Gallardo missed roughly two months of the 2016 season with shoulder injuries. While that’s concerning in and of itself, his contract with the Orioles was dropped from a three-year agreement to a restructured two-year pact following his physical due to shoulder concerns, so there’s perhaps elevated cause for concern.
When on the field, Gallardo limped to a 5.42 ERA with 6.5 K/9 against a career-worst 4.7 BB/9 and a 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 118 innings. Though Gallardo was able to make 23 starts despite the time he missed, he’s now showed a diminished ability to work deep into games in each of the past two seasons, averaging under 5 2/3 innings per start in 2015 with the Rangers and less than 5 1/3 innings per start last year in Baltimore. Gallardo has a guaranteed $13MM remaining on his contract, although $1MM of that sum is deferred without interest.
It should, of course, be noted that prior to his woeful season in Baltimore, Gallardo was long a steadying presence in the rotation for the Brewers and Rangers. Though he displayed plenty of red flags in his lone season with Texas — diminished strikeout rate and velocity, increased walk rate — Gallardo averaged 32 starts per year from 2009-15, totaling 1339 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball with 8.2 K/9 against 3.3 BB/9. His heater has dipped about three miles per hour from its 92.7 mph peak, but he does bring a track record of useful results to the table. Clearly, the Mariners are hoping that a move to a larger park will help to quell some of the home-run problems that plagued Gallardo in 2016, when he posted a 1.2 HR/9 rate that dwarfed the 0.9 mark he carried into the season.
If Gallardo is able to rebound in 2017, he comes with an affordable $13MM option for the 2018 campaign ($3MM of that sum would be deferred, without interest, as well). If not, they’ll pay him a $2MM buyout on top of his $11MM salary for the upcoming season. He’ll slot into a rotation that also includes Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton and Nate Karns, with Ariel Miranda representing an additional southpaw option for manager Scott Servais.
The Mariners have been shopping Smith since at least early December, so it’s not entirely surprising to see them move on from the 34-year-old. Swapping him out for a starter that struggled to Gallardo’s level last year, however, is somewhat of surprise, as Smith is coming off a characteristically solid season at the plate. Last year’s .249/.342/.415 is more or less in line with the cumulative .258/.343/.435 triple slash he’s posted dating back to the 2011 season.
The Mariners, though, have placed a premium on outfield defense, and Smith’s previously average defensive ratings took a notable tumble in 2016. Smith is limited to the outfield corners, and Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at an unsightly -8 in just 257 2/3 innings in left field last year, while Ultimate Zone Rating pegged him at -6.3. (His work in right field drew more typically neutral ratings.)
Smith has long been limited from an offensive standpoint as well. Though he’s handled right-handed pitchers with aplomb throughout his Major League tenure (.272/.355/.472), his perennial struggles against left-handed pitching have resulted in a paltry .202/.282/.312 output.
Unlike Gallardo, Smith is controllable only through the 2017 season, so he’s a short-term option that will still require the Orioles to pick up a platoon partner. However, he’ll bring a quality on-base presence and a needed left-handed bat to a lineup that was heavy on right-handed hitters (Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Welington Castillo) and light on lefties (Chris Davis, Hyun Soo Kim).
In the rotation, the Orioles still have five starters upon which to rely in Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jimenez, although the latter two on that list struggled every bit as much as the now-departed Gallardo in 2016.
From a bigger-picture standpoint, the addition of Smith has to lessen the likelihood of a reunion with Mark Trumbo and the Orioles, although it shouldn’t close the door entirely, as the O’s could still find plenty of at-bats between the outfield and designated hitter. It does, however, look to definitively eliminate the Orioles as a potential landing spot for Jay Bruce, to whom the O’s had been linked in trade rumors for much of the winter.
As for the Mariners, while they may now feel set in the rotation following the addition of a veteran starter, the outfield now looks to have even more uncertainty. Seattle will again deploy fleet-footed Leonys Martin as its primary center fielder, but the corners are currently occupied by a combination of unproven names like Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger, with veteran Danny Valencia on hand to platoon with Gamel. (Though Valencia has limited outfield experience after spending most of his career at third base.) Nelson Cruz, too, can see occasional time in the outfield, but he’ll be the primary DH in Seattle next year and has long been considered a negative asset with the glove. As such, a further outfield addition for the Mariners — one with fewer platoon issues and/or one with superior defensive acumen — seems like a reasonable expectation as Spring Training nears.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Free agent slugger Brandon Moss “has been linked to the Orioles,” writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The 33-year-old possesses plenty of experience in the corner outfield – where general manager Dan Duquette is still looking for help even after acquiring Seth Smith on Friday – and could fit as a designated hitter in Baltimore. While re-signing Mark Trumbo would help fill those vacancies, Duquette didn’t sound optimistic about that Sunday. Moss should cost far less than Trumbo, largely because the former is coming off back-to-back mediocre seasons. As a member of the Cardinals last year, Moss swatted an impressive 28 home runs, but he nevertheless posted an unspectacular .225/.300/.484 line in 464 plate appearances. The lefty-swinger would at least add more power and variety to a mostly right-handed lineup, however.
Orioles executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette joined Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM to discuss his team’s offseason plans. Here’s a partial audio link to the interview, as well as other details from Jim Duquette’s Twitter account (links here). Highlights included…
- Duquette hinted that the Orioles could be moving on from Mark Trumbo, saying “we like some of the other options, some of the shorter-term options on the market that look to be a little bit more cost-effective for the club.” Since Trumbo rejected a qualifying offer, the O’s will receive a first round draft pick if Trumbo signs elsewhere, which is no small consideration for the Orioles given how the qualifying offer system has been altered for future seasons. “The value of that draft pick has been enhanced with the negotiations of the new basic agreement,” Duquette said. “In other words, that’s about the last time you can acquire that level of pick for a compensation free agent.”
- The Orioles still are looking for outfield help as well as pitching depth in the form of “another veteran pitcher.” Duquette didn’t rule out a reunion with Jason Hammel, noting that the O’s liked Hammel and how he performed for Baltimore in the 2012-13 seasons. The Rangers, Yankees, Mariners and Marlins have all been linked to Hammel at different points this offseason.
- Earlier this winter, Duquette commented that Jose Bautista wasn’t an Orioles target due to the long-time Blue Jays slugger’s unpopularity amongst Baltimore fans. Duquette clarified those comments today and while he feels his words “kind of got blown out of proportion,” he didn’t walk them back. “I was trying to make it clear to [Bautista’s] agent that I didn’t want the Orioles in that conversation because I didn’t want the fans being upset that we were out there trying to bring Jose Bautista here after we’d competed against him…for the last 6-7 years,” Duquette said. In my view, this is an unusual public stance for an executive to take, especially since Bautista (as a veteran slugger who could be available at something of a discount price) fits the model of past late-winter Duquette signings.
Over the next few days, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
Manny Machado enters his second year of arbitration eligibility with a $5MM base salary and a strong case for a solid raise. My model projects him to reach $11.2MM, good for a $6.2MM raise, after an All-Star campaign with a .294 batting average, 37 home runs and 96 runs batted in. The model is a useful tool here, and probably came up with a reasonable guess, because so few comparables are appropriate for Machado’s platform year.
Position players like Machado generally receive multi-year deals in lieu of one-year pacts once they reach their second year of arbitration. In the last decade, only 10 players have hit at least .280 and belted 30 homers going into their second year of arbitration eligibility, and a full seven of those 10 received multi-year deals before reaching agreement on a single-year number.
Only two of those cases have occurred since 2007 – Jacoby Ellsbury in 2012 and Chris Davis in 2014. Ellsbury received a $5.65MM raise, while Davis’ salary grew by a full $7.05MM. Both players had better platform years than Machado. Ellsbury hit .321 with 32 home runs, 39 stolen bases and 105 RBI. Davis hit .286 with 53 blasts and knocked in 138. Ellsbury’s case is probably stale, however (it is now five years old), so even though he only received a $5.65MM raise there is reason to expect Machado could eclipse that number. Davis’ case is only three years old, and it’s harder to argue that Machado should get a bigger raise. The model, in fact, does not believe this to be true.
With Ellsbury’s case stale and Davis’ looking more like a ceiling, it makes sense to look for a floor for Machado. But it is difficult to find one. In the last three years, no other second-year-eligible player has received a single-year deal with a raise larger than the $2.77MM that Daniel Murphy received. But Murphy had only clubbed 13 homers and hit .286. While he had stolen 23 bases, he only knocked in 78 runs. Clearly Machado should get a far larger raise than Murphy.
Going back further, Hunter Pence in 2011 is a longshot possibility for a floor. He received a $3.4MM raise after posting a .282/25/91 line. Pence’s case was clearly inferior, and the six-year gap between his case and Machado’s certainly makes him a floor.
It’s clear that Machado is likely to earn less than Davis’ $7.05MM raise, but he’s also likely to get more than Pence’s $3.4MM increase. There is an argument that Machado should earn less than Ellsbury’s $5.65MM raise, but given the five-year lag between the two cases, that may not be applicable anyway. I suspect that the model’s $6.2MM projected raise is as a reasonable of an estimate as we can expect for Machado’s unique situation. It falls short of Davis, but with Machado playing better defense at a harder position, he probably will not fall all that far short despite the significant gap in power numbers.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
- The Orioles’ acquisition of Seth Smith this week should not impact their potential pursuit of Mark Trumbo, writes MASN’s Steve Melewski. The Orioles could still use Trumbo at DH, and their savings of about $4MM in the deal could possibly free up a bit of extra capital to sign him. As for Smith, he’s a platoon player, and neither he nor Hyun Soo Kim have much of a track record against lefties. That means the Orioles will likely continue to look for outfielders, presumably of the right-handed variety.
After picking up outfielder Seth Smith from the Mariners in a deal that sent Yovani Gallardo to Seattle, Orioles VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette told the media that his organization still wants to add to its outfield mix, as Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com was among those to report. Baltimore is also interested in adding some pitching depth with Gallardo leaving town.
Duquette seemingly framed the approach as one of seeking depth, but presumably the O’s will at least consider something more. It probably doesn’t hurt that turning Gallardo into Smith also freed up a bit of financial flexibility. The organization would surely like to add some more thump to its lineup, which no longer includes Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
Currently, Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource projects Trey Mancini to take DH duties. But while the 24-year-old had a solid season in the upper minors last year, he only made it to the majors for five games of action. And though it’s nice that he hit three home runs in his 15 MLB plate appearances, Mancini hit a relatively unexceptional twenty long balls and slugged. 458 in 611 trips to the plate in the minors. Point being: despite his promise, there’s reason to believe the O’s ought to seek a near-term upgrade.
Of course, both Trumbo and Alvarez are still available via free agency. The former is at least capable of playing the outfield, though defensive metrics have long cast doubt on that characterization. Among the free agent outfielders still available are Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders, Colby Rasmus, and longtime O’s nemesis Jose Bautista.
As for the rotation, Duqutte said that he felt the club was in a good position to move a starter. “We dealt from an area of surplus – we had six starters – to fill an area of need and that was left-handed hitting, on-base capability and an outfielder,” he said. “So, we liked the trade from that perspective. We reallocated some of our resources and I think, in the process, we strengthened our team.”
Given that assessment, it certainly sounds as if Baltimore will limit itself to swingman types or minor-league free agents. There are quite a few possible candidates still remaining that could meet that general description, so it’s all but impossible to assess where the team’s gaze might end up landing. Given Duquette’s propensity for waiting out the market, it could well be some time before we find out the full slate of arms that the O’s will have on hand this spring.
Here are the day’s minor moves from around the league…
- Right-hander Zach Stewart has agreed to a minor league deal with the Orioles, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (the news was first reported by Korean media outlet Naver Sports — hat tip to Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). Once a well-regarded pitching prospect in the Reds organization, the 30-year-old Stewart is now a well-traveled veteran who will hope to return to the Majors for the first time since 2012 this coming season. He’s spent the past two years with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization and reportedly drew interest from the KBO’s Hanwha Eagles before agreeing to the deal with Baltimore. Stewart logged a 3.76 ERA with 217 strikeouts against 80 walks in 260 2/3 innings across the past two seasons in the KBO and has a career 4.08 ERA in parts of six Triple-A seasons. He’s also totaled 103 big league innings but struggled to a 6.82 ERA with 5.6 K/9 against 1.9 BB/9 in that time.