Baltimore Orioles Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Brignac, Bernier, Venditte, Almanzar

Here are the latest minor moves from around the game:

  • The Marlins have agreed to a minor league deal with infielder Reid Brignac, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Brignac, a former top prospect, hit .222/.300/.346 in 91 PA for the Phillies this season and is a lifetime .222/.266/.314 hitter in 905 PA. The 28-year-old has experience at shortstop, second base, third base and has made brief cameos in the outfield.
  • Utility infielder Doug Bernier has re-signed with the Twins, per Jim Mandelaro of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle. The 34-year-old has seen minimal big league time with Minnesota over the last two years, and has put up strong numbers for the team’s Triple-A affiliate.
  • The switch-pitching Pat Venditte has inked a minor league deal to join the Athletics, per a tweet from his agent, Marc Kligman. While it is tempting to write him off as a novelty, Venditte owns a career 3.25 ERA against Triple-A competition and a 3.09 mark at the Double-A level, with solid K:BB numbers to boot.
  • The Orioles have re-signed infielder Michael Almanzar and lefty Chris Jones while adding utility option Derrik Gibson as well, all on minor league pacts, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (via Twitter). Almanzar, 23, bounced between the O’s and Red Sox last year, being taken in the Rule 5 draft, returned to Boston, and then dealt back to Baltimore.
  • Baltimore went on to announce those signings and a series of others, including southpaws Frank Gailey and Ronan Pacheco and righties Tim Gustafson, Kenn Kasparek, and Mikey O’Brien. None of those hurlers has reached the MLB level yet in their careers.
  • The Angels have inked left-hander Atahualpa Severino to a minor league pact, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Mike DiGiovanna. Severino, 30, spent last year at Triple-A for the Braves. He has yet to make it back to the bigs since a brief cameo with the Nationals back in 2011.
  • Right-hander John Ely has agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers, according to the team’s player development Twitter account. The 28-year-old saw sporadic playing time with the Dodgers over the 2010-12 time frame, missed virtually all of 2013, and re-emerged as a reliever last year in the Red Sox organization. He threw to a 3.04 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9.

Orioles Sign Oliver Drake To MLB Contract

The Orioles have signed righty Oliver Drake to a major league deal, the club announced. Drake, a 27-year-old minor league free agent, has spent his entire career in the Baltimore system.

He gets a split contract that will pay him $508K in the majors and $82.5K in the minors, according to a tweet from Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs. As McDaniel notes, Drake comes with two option years remaining.

Drake has previously spent time on Baltimore’s 40-man roster, which still has six open slots following the move. He missed much of the 2012 season with shoulder tendinitis, however, and returned as a reliever. But Drake has been solid over the last two years at the Double-A level, averaging double-digit strikeouts with tolerable walk levels.

There have been quite a few major league deals for minor league players early this winter. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes documented and discussed the trend last year, and it certainly seems to be continuing in the 2014-15 signing season.


Rosenthal’s Latest: M’s, Hamels, Kennedy, Markakis, Norris

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has a new notes column posted looking at a number of situations around the league. Here are some quick highlights…

  • The Mariners are on the hunt for a right-handed bat, but they prefer Nelson Cruz to signing Hanley Ramirez or trading for Matt Kemp. Justin Upton is also somewhere on their wish list and is potentially available. Rosenthal writes that the Mariners “are going to do something” of significance to address that search.
  • The Phillies are doing background work on the makeup of Red Sox prospects Christian Vazquez, Mookie Betts and Matt Barnes, Rosenthal hears, fueling some speculation about a Cole Hamels trade. Rosenthal says the Sox are disinclined to move Vazquez or Blake Swihart, however, and previous reports have indicated that the team is loath to consider parting with Betts. As others have noted, Rosenthal feels that Hamels would likely require the Red Sox to exercise his 2019 option ($20MM) in advance, bringing the total he is owed to $110MM over the next five years.
  • The Padres are continuing to listen to offers for Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy, with Kennedy being the most likely of the three to go. Kennedy is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.3MM in 2015, and the Royals are interested in the right-hander. Rosenthal also speculatively lists the Rangers as a club to watch in the Kennedy market.
  • A reunion between Nick Markakis and the Orioles seemed like a foregone conclusion at one point, but the two sides still aren’t close to a deal and talks are said to be merely “inching along.” Rosenthal wonders what’s taking so long but does note that the O’s are considering Yasmany Tomas and still working with Cruz as well, so it seems fair to speculate that having three options in the corner outfield is slowing the Markakis progress. As Rosenthal notes, the longer the wait, the more likely it is that Markakis explores other options more seriously.
  • Since the publication of that column, Rosenthal has tweeted that the Orioles might be willing to move Bud Norris, who is projected by Swartz to earn $8.7MM in 2015. Norris is a free agent next season but pitched well in 2014, posting a 3.65 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate in 165 1/3 innings. Rosenthal also hears that the O’s have gotten “moderate” interest in Ubaldo Jimenez, although with $38.75MM remaining on his contract, I’d imagine he could only be swapped for another bad contract.


Latest On Nick Markakis, Blue Jays

Sources tell Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links) that even though the Blue Jays have had contact with the agent for Nick Markakis, they aren’t seriously pursuing him right now.  Currently, Toronto is prioritizing other outfielders ahead of Markakis.

Meanwhile, Morosi says that the Orioles are still trying to re-sign Markakis, but the two sides are not close on a deal.  Last week, it was reported that there was renewed optimism between the O’s and Markakis’ camp about hammering out a new contract.  That might still be the case, but it doesn’t sound like anything is imminent on that front.  The two sides are said to be discussing a deal that would pay between $10-$12MM per year.

The Blue Jays are also in a similar spot with Hanley Ramirez, Morosi tweets.  Toronto has established contact with the free agent shortstop, but they’re not actively pursuing him at this time.  With Jose Reyes at shortstop, Ramirez, presumably, would be slotted in at third base with Brett Lawrie at second.  Then again, it’s unclear how serious GM Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are about pursuing Ramirez, who figures to be among the most highly paid free agents of the offseason.


East Notes: Lester, De Aza, Glanville, Montgomery

Red Sox ownership will meet Jon Lester and his agents this week, a likely signal that the Sox are set to make a significant offer, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. An offer in the $130MM neighborhood ought to be enough to persuade Lester to strongly consider continuing his career in Boston, Edes writes. Six teams reportedly have strong interest in Lester. Here are more notes from the East divisions.

  • The Orioles will have to take a large number of players through the arbitration process this offseason, but one they do have a tough decision on is outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes. Kubatko suggests the O’s should keep De Aza, who batted .293/.341/.537 in 89 plate appearances and also hit well in the postseason after arriving in a trade with the White Sox.
  • ESPN analyst Doug Glanville, who hasn’t coached, managed or worked in a front office since he retired as a player, isn’t a standard managerial candidate for the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Rays recently interviewed Glanville and today interviewed Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, who join a crowded field of candidates that also includes Manny Acta, Kevin Cash, Craig Counsell, Raul Ibanez, Dave Martinez, Charlie Montoyo, Don Wakamatsu and Ron Wotus. “Maybe I am a dark horse (candidate), I don’t know,” says Glanville. “I approach it like, ‘Why not?’
  • Phillies president David Montgomery expects to return eventually from a medical leave of absence after having jaw bone cancer surgery last spring, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “The good news is my prognosis is excellent,” says Montgomery. “The chemo and radiation I did was preventative. I’ve basically kind of been dismissed by doctors. I have periodic PET scans … Hopefully I’ll have that 45th season.” Montgomery has been in the organization for 44 seasons. Pat Gillick is serving as the Phillies’ interim president.

Latest On Yoan Moncada

Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada is expected to receive a bonus that will absolutely shatter the previous record for an amateur player — international or domestic — and intrigue surrounding him only figures to grow in the coming months. Here’s the latest on the 19-year-old phenom…

  • Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel has an outstanding breakdown of not only Moncada’s showcase in Guatemala yesterday, but of the puzzling, seemingly inexplicable way in which he came to leave Cuba. McDaniel writes that Moncada was seemingly granted permission by the Cuban government to leave the country for Guatemala and is free to return and leave again as he wishes (a bizarre phenomenon also noted earlier this month by MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez). Beyond that, Moncada is being represented by a CPA from St. Petersburg who has never negotiated a baseball contract before and will not enlist the help of any veteran MLB agents. In fact, two agents from the Boras Corporation attempted to attend Moncada’s showcase and were not only denied access, but escorted off the premises by armed guards, McDaniel reports. Moncada’s agent has no desire to make this a story about himself and therefore was not named, McDaniel adds.
  • McDaniel, too, has spoken to several executives who expect Moncada’s bonus to land in the $30-40MM range, which would result in a 100 percent luxury tax on all overages, which could lead to a total commitment upwards of $80MM. McDaniel writes that were Moncada not subject to international spending limitations, he’d probably clear $100MM with relative ease. Some scouts, he notes, feel Moncada is more talented than Jose Abreu, Rusney Castillo and Yasmany Tomas. He adds that there are already rumors that the Cubs are looking to again blow way past their bonus pool in 2015, so if Moncada isn’t declared a free agent until after June 15, 2015, Chicago figures to be heavily involved. As it stands, the Cubs and Rangers aren’t eligible to sign a player for more than $250K after blowing past their bonus pools in the 2013-14 spending period.
  • The Orioles scouted Moncada at yesterday’s showcase but consider the infielder too expensive, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. As Encina notes, Baltimore’s international bonus pool was roughly $2.253MM, meaning that in order to sign Moncada for $30MM, they’d have to invest more than $57MM once luxury tax is accounted for. Encina’s source for his article said he expects Moncada to sign for “at least” a $25MM bonus.
  • MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets that the Angels definitely like Moncada but consider him to be out of their price range. The Halos currently hold the record for a Cuban amateur, having recently given Roberto Baldoquin an $8MM bonus. (Others, such as Abreu and Castillo, were not considered amateurs by the collective bargaining agreement.)

AL Central Notes: Masterson, Ubaldo, Crow, Collins, Twins

The Indians are kicking the tires on a familiar name, as Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports they’ve reached out to Justin Masterson about a potential return. The Indians are likely interested in Masterson only on a one-year deal, which, as Hoynes notes, may be the preferred option for Masterson anyway. Masterson pitched through a number of injuries last season, and if he’s healthy in 2015, he could be a prime rebound candidate and position himself for a much nicer deal on the open market in 2015-16.

More from Hoynes and more from the AL Central…

  • Hoynes also refutes previous reports that the Indians would have some interest in buying low on Ubaldo Jimenez. Though Jimenez had one of his best seasons in Cleveland under pitching coach Mickey Callaway, the organization isn’t interested in trying to fix the inconsistent righty.
  • Both Aaron Crow and Tim Collins are non-tender candidates for the Royals, but Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports (via Twitter) that the team is still considering tendering each a contract due to a lack of MLB-ready replacement options.
  • In his latest Twins Inbox, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports that the Twins began their search for a pitching coach with at least 30 names and seem likely to go outside the organization to fill the role. He also discusses potential free agent targets for the Twins, noting that the team is expected to pursue second-tier starting pitcher options such as Brandon McCarthy and Jason Hammel or bounceback candidates such as Masterson and Brett Anderson. Bollinger also expects the Twins to sign a corner outfielder, though he notes Torii Hunter‘s desire to play for a contender basically rules out a return to Minnesota.

O’s, Markakis Optimistic About Rekindled Talks

11:44am: Agent Jamie Murphy tells ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick that he “feel[s] like Dan [Duquette] does,” explaining that “there is still a lot of work to be done if we are going to reach a deal.” (Twitter links.) Though Murphy said both sides hope to work out a deal, he will continue to engage with other clubs in the meantime.

9:55am: Talks picked back up yesterday between the Orioles and free agent Nick Markakis, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and there is renewed optimism that a four-year pact can be reached. The sides are discussing a deal that would pay Markakis between $10MM and $12MM a year, tweets Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who says it “should get done.”

The Orioles’ negotiations with the long-time Baltimore fixture had reportedly stalled, leaving Markakis prepared to test the open market at the GM Meetings. As Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported, the sides had been nearing a deal along the lines of what Passan suggests (four years, $10MM-$12MM) before the brakes were pumped.

MLBTR’s Steve Adams predicted a four-year, $48MM pact for the 31-year-old outfielder. As Adams explained, one’s view of Markakis’s defensive value goes a long way towards assessing his value. Though defensive metrics have generally pegged him as either a slightly above or slightly below average right fielder, there is a strong undercurrent of support for the idea that teams view him as a plus defender.


Latest On A.J. Burnett

10:50am: A team source disputes that any offer was made to Burnett, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.

10:15am: The Orioles have extended an offer to free agent righty A.J. Burnett, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports on Twitter. Though nothing is close at the moment, Passan notes that Baltimore will be a player in the starting pitching market.

Baltimore was strongly rumored to be a destination for Burnett last year, before he signed on with the Phillies. That was due in large part to the fact that the veteran was said to prefer to pitch for a team close to his Maryland home. This time around, however, he is said to be willing to play anywhere for a contender.

The O’s had a surprisingly effective rotation last year, in spite of the struggles of major free agent signee Ubaldo Jimenez. In terms of bottom-line results, the club’s rotation landed at the back end of the top dozen teams by measure of earned run average. ERA estimators, however, were generally less favorably inclined.


AL East Notes: Andrus, Butler, Markakis, BoSox

It would be “the longest of long shots” if the Yankees acquired Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus this offseason, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News reports.  Andrus’ eight-year, $120MM extension begins in 2015 and the Yankees aren’t interested in paying that type of superstar money to a player who hasn’t yet delivered on that level.  “You would have to hope he turned a big corner if you took on that contract,” an executive tells Feinsand. “If he never gets any better, that’s a lot of money for a good — but pretty ordinary — player.”  Ironically, the Yankees’ long-standing interest in Andrus was part of the reason why Texas extended him in the first place, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes.  It’s worth noting that Andrus has opt-out clauses in his deal after both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, so the financial commitment may not quite be as lengthy as it seems.

Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • There isn’t any truth to reports that the Orioles made a three-year, $30MM offer to Billy Butler, a member of the organization tells MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko.  While the O’s have had interest in Butler, Kubatko feels the team wouldn’t spend that much on a full-time DH.
  • The Orioles will meet with Nick Markakis‘ agent Jamie Murphy today, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  The O’s are still seen as the favorites to sign Markakis, though the Blue Jays and other teams are interested in the veteran outfielder.  Earlier this week, Murphy said that the Orioles weren’t one of the several teams he planned to speak with about his client during the GM Meetings.
  • Though Yoenis Cespedes‘ name has frequently been mentioned in trade rumors, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told reporters (including MLB.com’s Ian Browne) that those rumors aren’t “based in any sort of evidence. We’re happy to have himWe felt like as we were building a lineup for next year, adding that power element in the middle of the lineup was critically important to us. So now that we have it, we’re not really anxious to give it away. We believe he’s very important in 2015, and 2015 is very important to us.”
  • Cherington spent “an extended period of time” talking with Jon Lester‘s agents last night, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford tweets.
  • The Rays interviewed Giants bench coach Ron Wotus about their managerial opening yesterday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Of the ten candidates on the Rays’ list, the team still has to speak to Barry Larkin, Doug Glanville and Kevin Cash before getting into the second round of interviews.
  • In other AL East news from earlier today, we published a collection of Blue Jays notes, the Yankees signed lefty Jose De Paula and the Orioles are shopping right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.