Baltimore Orioles Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Fielder, De Aza, Maddon, Scherzer

Prince Fielder is one of several players whose hoped-for return to past production levels will go a long way toward determining the near-term fate of the Rangers. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News provides an interesting profile of Fielder, who says he is recharged, newly appreciative, and raring to go for 2015.

Here are a few more notes from around the league:

  • The Orioles are headed toward an arbitration hearing with outfielder Alejandro De Aza, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Executive VP Dan Duquette explains that the club informed De Aza it had made him its best offer and would take a “file to go” strategy from that point forward. He expressed surprise that the team’s $5MM proposal was not accepted, noting that there had been discussions of a two-year deal as well. De Aza filed at $5.65MM, which actually falls shy of the $5.9MM that MLBTR and Matt Swartz projected. Baltimore’s arbitration strategy was actually the first topic covered by Kubatko in his recent appearance on the MLBTR Podcast.
  • MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said today that the league’s investigation into possible tampering by the Cubs into then-Rays manager Joe Maddon is still in progress, as ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers reports. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and Maddon’s agent, Alen Nero, have both insisted that nothing untoward occurred, but it appears that MLB will take its time and cover the matter thoroughly before coming to any conclusions.
  • Max Scherzer‘s departure from the Tigers appears to have been all but a formality from the point that he rejected the club’s $140MM offer last spring, as the righty explained to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Scherzer said that he wasn’t interested in holding contract talks during the season, and that the club was not interested in negotiating when Scherzer’s camp “reached out” over the offseason. Indeed, Scherzer said that both he and Rick Porcello realized some time ago that the club was likely going to undergo a lot of turnover in the coming years, which has indeed been the case.
  • As for his choice of the Nationals, Scherzer gave some further details on how the end game went down: “Of the teams that were really down to the end, the Nationals gave me the best opportunity [to win]. So because of that, that’s the recent why I told Scott [Boras] at the end, ‘Let’s just negotiate with the Nationals.'”

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Masterson, Rays, De Aza

The Red Sox are likely done adding to their Major League roster for the 2015 season, GM Ben Cherington told reporters, including John Tomase of WEEI.com, yesterday. “I would expect the group we have for spring training is in place and I would be surprised if there were any additions,” said Cherington. “I couldn’™t completely rule out a non-roster deal with someone, but we feel good about where we are with our position player and pitching group, so this is probably the group you’™ll see when we take the field in Fort Myers.” As Tomase notes, Cherington again ruled out the possibility of signing James Shields or making a significant run at Cole Hamels, as Tomase’s WEEI colleague Rob Bradford noted last month. Boston has added Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley to its rotation this offseason, with Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez joining the lineup.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • Masterson told Bradford earlier this week that he was surprised to be completely pain-free in a pre-Spring Training bullpen session. As Masterson explains, after he tore an oblique muscle last winter he did not have any scar tissue removed, which likely resulted in the pain he felt in his early spring bullpens. “I just figured I needed to loosen up, but it never did. Coming in right now compared to last year? It’™s huge.” Masterson feels that early pain trickled down into his knee and hips, serving as a significant detriment to his 2014 numbers. Boston gave Masterson a one-year, $9.5MM contract this offseason with the belief that he can bounce back to his 2013 form and help lead their revamped rotation.
  • While the Cubs insist that there was no tampering at play in their hiring of manager Joe Maddon, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Rays insist that they do have evidence to the contrary. Maddon signed a five-year deal with the Cubs in early November, just 10 days after opting out of his deal with the Rays (though word that an agreement had been reached broke just seven days after his opt-out).
  • The Orioles and Alejandro De Aza are headed for an arbitration hearing, GM Dan Duquette conceded today in an appearance on 105.7 The Fan radio (h/t: MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko). Duquette said that he felt the team made a “very, very strong” offer to De Aza shortly before figures were exchanged, but no agreement was reached. De Aza filed for a $5.65MM salary, while the team came back with a flat $5MM offer, as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker.

MLBTR Podcast With Guests Corey Kluber, Roch Kubatko

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Detroit Tigers

After running through league-wide news and notes, Jeff covers a range of topics with reigning American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber of the Indians (1:48). As Spring Training draws near, Kluber discusses his preparation and approach after throwing 235 2/3 excellent innings last year.

Jeff then chats with Orioles beat reporter Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (16:22) about how to interpret a fairly quiet but still-interesting offseason in Baltimore.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and please leave a review! The podcast is also available via Stitcher at this link.

The MLB Trade Rumors Podcast runs weekly on Thursday afternoons.



Players Avoiding Arbitration: Wednesday

There are still nearly 30 players whose arbitration cases need to be settled, and as our Arbitration Tracker shows, the Royals (four remaining cases) and Pirates (three) have the most work ahead of them. We’ll run down today’s minor arbitration settlements here, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…

  • The Orioles settled one of their two remaining cases by agreeing to a one-year deal with closer Zach Britton, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Britton will earn $3.2MM with $300K available in incentives for games finished (beginning at 45). The 27-year-old Britton enjoyed a scintillating breakout season with Baltimore in 2014, stepping into the ninth-inning spotlight and amassing 37 saves along with a pristine 1.65 ERA, 7.3 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9. Perhaps most impressive, however, was Britton’s historic ground-ball rate; since batted-ball data tracking began in 2002, only one pitcher (Brad Ziegler) has posted a higher single-season ground-ball rate (min. 20 IP) than Britton’s 75.3 percent mark in 2014, as can be seen at Fangraphs. His $3.2MM payday was the midpoint between the $4.2MM figure he submitted and the Orioles’ $2.2MM counter, and matches Swartz’s projection exactly.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Tuesday

With more than 30 players still needing to settle arbitration situations (as of Tuesday morning, that is), word of agreements should continue to steadily pour in over the weeks. All of the outstanding situations — as well as those that have already been settled — can be monitored using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker. For today’s minor agreements, we’ll keep track of them in this post as well, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Miguel Gonzalez has agreed to a $3.275MM contract to avoid arbitration with the Orioles, Heyman tweets. That number lands just $50K over the sides’ filing mid-point, and less than $500K shy of the projected figure. Any way you cut it, it’s a handsome first-year arb-eligible payday for the 30-year-old righty, who took a circuitous path to establishing himself as a solid big league starter. As the arb tracker shows, Baltimore now needs to resolve just two cases: Zach Britton and Alejandro De Aza.

Earlier Updates

  • Also avoiding arbitration with the Royals was outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who will earn $2.725MM next year, according to Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (Twitter links). Cain can also earn $25K for reaching 505 plate appearances and would pick up $50K with an All-Star selection. Cain had a breakout season last year, putting up about five wins above replacement on the back of a .301/.339/.412 slash, 28 steals, and outstanding center field defense. He had filed at $3.6MM in his first year of arb eligibility, with the club countering at $2MM. MLBTR/Matt Swartz had projected Cain to earn $2.3MM, but he lands slightly above that — aided in part, no doubt, by his quality postseason work.
  • The Royals and Mike Moustakas have agreed to a $2.64MM contract for the 2015 season, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Moustakas, who had filed at $3.1MM compared to the team’s $1.85MM filing number, will come in a bit north of the $2.475MM midpoint between those figures. The 26-year-old Moustakas hit just .212/.271/.361 in 2015, though he did manage 15 homers and also tacked on five more in the postseason. His salary will fall just $60K shy of Swartz’s $2.7MM projection, though Heyman tweets that Moustakas can boost his salary a bit, as he’ll earn an extra $10K upon reaching 550 plate appearances.
  • As the Arb Tracker shows, the Royals still have four remaining cases: Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy and Kelvin Herrera.

Pirates Acquire Steve Lombardozzi From Orioles

The Pirates have acquired switch-hitting infielder Steve Lombardozzi from the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations, Baltimore announced. The 26-year-old has now been traded for the third time, all dating back to last winter.

Lombardozzi cracked the big leagues with the Nationals, serving as a regular utility piece for the club in 2012 and 2013. He was shipped to the Tigers and then on to the Orioles before the 2014 campaign, which he spent primarily at Triple-A. All said, Lombo owns a .266/.297/.341 line over 829 trips to the plate at the big league level.

The swap is unrelated to the clubs’ earlier Travis Snider deal, which includes a still-unnamed player heading to Baltimore, according to a tweet from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Orioles To Sign Nolan Reimold

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Orioles have reached a deal to bring back right-handed-hitting outfielder Nolan Reimold, according to a tweet from Seamus Doyle. Reimold gets a minor league deal with a spring invite and an opt-out clause, per Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter links). The 31-year-old picked a return to his long-time stomping grounds over a chance to join the Indians, according to Kubatko. Reimold has a .251/.324/.439 career slash over six seasons and 1,134 plate appearances, all but 78 of which have come in an Orioles uniform.

Cardinals Acquire Michael Ohlman From Orioles

The Cardinals have acquired catcher Michael Ohlman from the Orioles in exchange for cash considerations, the clubs announced. Ohlman had been designated for assignment by Baltimore.

Added to the 40-man roster in the fall of 2013, the 24-year-old Ohlman played last year at Double-A, the highest level of the minors that he has reached. He slashed a disappointing .236/.310/.318 in 454 plate appearances, failing to follow up on his .934-OPS 2013 at the High-A level. A big-bonus 11th-round pick back in 2008, Ohlman had his share of ups and downs even before his rough 2014, as Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper detailed last March.


AL East Notes: Shields, Yankees, Delmon, Blue Jays

The price tag on James Shields may be dropping to the point where it makes too much sense for the Yankees to ignore, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Shields has never made sense for the Yankees at or in the vicinity of $100MM, Castrovince writes, but if his price tag is trending closer to that of Ervin Santana (four years, $55MM) than that $100MM plateau, the uncertainty and lack of stability in New York’s rotation makes them a logical destination. As Castrovince notes, the Yanks dished out four years and $52MM to Chase Headley shows that the team is still willing to spend on veterans at a price level with which they are comfortable, and Shields’ work ethic, leadership and durability make him a desirable rotation candidate in the Bronx.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • The Yankees have a pair of very viable closer candidates in Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, but MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch envisions Betances eventually locking down the closer role, with Miller likely ticketed to be the team’s top setup man. Hoch spoke with manager Joe Girardi, who did say that he’d like to have a set closer by the end of Spring Training. “I think guys like to know their roles, so I think if we can iron it out, I think it would be a good thing to do,” said Girardi. Using Betances in the ninth inning would cause his arbitration price to soar, although arbitration awards holds, strikeouts and ERA as well, so Betances looks like he’ll eventually be an expensive reliever regardless of his role.
  • As Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun details, Delmon Young said at the Orioles‘ Fan Festival over the weekend that he entertained the idea of signing elsewhere and had the opportunity to do so, but his desire was always to return to Baltimore. “…my first goal was to come back here just because I like just being in a place where you’re guaranteed to have an opportunity to defend a division title,” said Young. “It could have been cool going to a different place and trying to win another one, but it’s always a lot better to defend what you earned the year before.” Young continued, explaining that he’s excited to have a larger role this year following the departure of Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz, also adding that he’s much more comfortable in right field than left field.
  • Blue Jays manager John Gibbons spoke with Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio yesterday and acknowledged that the team has indeed talked about Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano (Twitter link). Gibbons said GM Alex Anthopoulos has been in touch with Scott Boras regarding the two free agents, as well as Philadelphia counterpart Ruben Amaro Jr. regarding Papelbon. However, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet notes (Twitter link), the Jays aim to be thorough in their search, so it makes sense that they’d explore all avenues.

AL East Notes: Rays, Britton, Red Sox

Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked numerous times over the weekend about the club’s vacant leadoff spot, but he didn’t have much in the way of answers, as Jon Meoli of The Baltimore Sun writes.  “Somebody’s going to lead off Opening Day, I’ll bet you,’’ Showalter said. “Our guys don’t talk about it a lot. I’ve said many times, take your best hitter and hit him first and give him more at-bats.”  Here’s more from the AL East..

  • Most of the heavy lifting is done, but the Rays would still like to make some improvements as spring training approaches.  “Maybe now this is the time for ‘tweaking’ of the roster,” baseball ops president Matt Silverman said, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “As we get closer to camp, we have a good sense of the depth that we have as well as a couple areas of potential need. Hopefully we can find ways to line up with other clubs to improve ourselves, but it’s not a necessity.”  The biggest priority seems to be adding another middle infielder, preferably a defensively-strong shortstop, though there aren’t many options on the open market.  Tampa Bay may also seek an experienced catcher to support Rene Rivera and another experienced reliever.
  • Reliever Zach Britton doesn’t seem to think that he and the Orioles are right on the verge of a pre-arbitration agreement, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com writes.  “I’m not sure,” said Britton. “Where we are right now, we’re still negotiating. There’s been a lot of dialogue the last couple of days, but right now there’s really nothing to update other than we’re just talking.”
  • The advanced metrics are bullish on the Red Sox‘s improved offense in 2015, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.
  • Orioles center fielder Adam Jones spoke with reporters, including Kubatko, about a wide range of topics, including the loss of Nick Markakis and the Dan Duquette-to-Toronto rumors that dominated much of the offseason.
  • New Red Sox starter Rick Porcello has the skills to be the ace of Boston’s staff, writes Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.