Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-02-18T16:17:55Z WordPress Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Alcides Escobar To Minor League Deal]]> 2019-02-16T19:57:18Z 2019-02-16T19:20:56Z Per a team release, the Orioles have signed shortstop Alcides Escobar to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that Escobar will receive $700K if he cracks the big-league roster.

Escobar, 32, finally fell out of favor in Kansas City, where from 2015-18 his .251/.284/.336 (64 wRC+) line was the worst among all qualified regulars in the majors. Still, the 2015 All-Star has been remarkably durable throughout his big-league career, appearing in at least 140 games in each of the last nine seasons, and should at least offer defensive stability to a hazy Baltimore infield picture.

Escobar arrived to much fanfare in Kansas City after the 2010 trade that sent Zack Greinke to Milwaukee. He flashed his defensive chops early, posting 10 DRS and a 9.6 UZR rating in his first full season with the Royals, though his grounder-heavy bat was a harbinger of outs to come. After a slight lift-off the next season, Escobar again cratered offensively (a cringe-worthy 49 wRC+) in 2013 before leading a late-season charge to the pennant the following year. That 3.5 fWAR campaign would prove to be the shortstop’s high-water mark: discipline issues – a 4.1% career walk rate – sent the once-leadoff man to back-of-the-order rehab, from which he’d emerge only sporadically.

His long-heralded defense, too, has been anything but, according to the advanced metrics. DRS has rated Escobar below-league-average at the position in six of the last seven seasons, pegging him at a career-low -12 in 2018. UZR finally severed its sort-of attachment in 2016, but has never considered the former top 100 prospect a top-of-the-scale defender at the position.

Still, Escobar probably holds the inside track to the Oriole shortstop job in 2019. His competitors – Richie Martin, Drew Jackson, and maybe Jonathan Villar, who seems a better fit at second – haven’t much asserted themselves in recent years, and none are a sure bet to handle the rigors of the position on the regular.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 2/14/19]]> 2019-02-15T01:02:30Z 2019-02-15T01:02:30Z Here are Thursday’s minor moves from around the league…

  • The Athletics announced that they’ve signed lefty Tyler Alexander to a minor league deal and invited him to Major League Spring Training. He’s been out of affiliated ball since the 2014 season, pitching on the independent circuit and in the Mexican League. Manager Bob Melvin spoke to Jane Lee of and touted Alexander as someone who the A’s have kept an eye on for the past few years, specifically citing this winter’s strong showing in the Dominican Winter League — 2.68 ERA, 48-to-10 K/BB ratio in 50 1/3 innings — as a source of intrigue.
  • The Orioles announced that infielder Jack Reinheimer cleared waivers and has been assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk. He’ll be in camp as a non-roster invitee, where he’ll compete with a variety of other players for a shot at some time in the Baltimore infield mix. The light-hitting 26-year-old hasn’t seen much MLB time but bounced around the waiver wire a bit this winter, indicating that teams see him at least as a plausible big-league depth piece.
  • Catcher Adam Moore has agreed to a minor league contract with the Rangers, tweets Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. He’d earn a $600K base salary at the Major League level. Moore, 34, has seen action in nine MLB seasons but played in double-digit games in only one of those. He spent most of 2018 at Triple-A, slashing .219/.260/.347 in 208 plate appearances.
  • In somewhat of a blast-from-the-past move, the Blue Jays have added lefty Ryan Feierabend on a minor league deal, per Baseball Toronto’s Keegan Matheson (Twitter link). Now 33 years old, Feierabend has just 7 1/3 MLB innings under his belt since the close of the 2008 season. However, he’s had some success pitching in the Korea Baseball Organization in recent seasons and is now utilizing a knuckleball — a rare pitch in today’s game that is all the more anomalous given that Feierabend is left-handed.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Sign Eric Young Jr.]]> 2019-02-12T16:01:35Z 2019-02-12T16:01:10Z TODAY: The O’s have announced the signing.

YESTERDAY: The Orioles have agreed to a minor league contract with outfielder Eric Young Jr. and invited him to Major League Spring Training, Roch Kubatko of reports (via Twitter).

Young, now 33 years old, spent the 2017-18 seasons with the Angels but, after a solid run in 2017, saw his offensive output crater in 2018. Overall, he hit a combined .233/.293/.361 with five homers, nine doubles, a pair of triples and 17 steals through 242 plate appearances with the Halos. Young paced the National League with 46 stolen bases back in 2013 as a member of the Rockies, and he doesn’t look to have lost much of a step, as his sprint speed of 29.0 feet per second (via Statcast) still ranked in the 91st percentile of big leaguers.

Baltimore currently projects to have Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart line up as the primary outfielders, with Mark Trumbo, Joey Rickard, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Rule 5 pick Drew Jackson all potentially factoring into the mix as well. Young, though, would bring an element of speed to the O’s that is largely lacking outside of Mullins and infielder Jonathan Villar, so perhaps that’ll hold some appeal to the Orioles’ new leadership as Young vies for a bench job this spring.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Orioles' Analytics]]> 2019-02-11T01:33:49Z 2019-02-11T01:33:49Z
  • Under GM Mike Elias, the revamped Orioles’ front office has taken a big step towards modern statistical analysis, though some seeds towards this direction were planted last summer before Elias was hired.  As Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun notes, several young pitchers acquired by the O’s last summer were obtained from teams (such as the Dodgers, Braves, and Yankees) that have already embraced analytics, leaving the prospects already well-versed in modern data and eager to learn more.  “I’m big into the new analytics and stuff like that, so I like to see the data that I produce, I guess, with how my pitches play off each other,” said right-hander Dean Kremer, one of the youngsters Baltimore acquired from Los Angeles in the Manny Machado trade in July.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Checking In On The Worst Rotations Of 2018]]> 2019-02-10T19:01:07Z 2019-02-10T19:01:07Z Last Sunday, we took a look at the improvements (or lack thereof) the worst bullpens of the 2018 major league season have made since the winter began. Today’s edition will focus on the sorriest rotations from 2018, when the starting staffs of the Orioles, Rangers, Blue Jays, Padres and White Sox posted ERAs upward of 5.00. Those teams also fared poorly in terms of fWAR, unsurprisingly, with the Orioles, Rangers, Padres and White Sox joining the Reds to make up the majors’ bottom five in that department. Even though spring training is set to open across the league, there are still some quality starters remaining in free agency, so it’s possible these teams aren’t done yet. For now, though, most of these staffs leave much to be desired heading into the new season.

    White Sox (2018 fWAR: 30th; 2018 ERA: 26th; projected 2019 rotation via Roster Resource): Last year’s White Sox received 30-plus starts from each of James Shields, Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito, but only Lopez managed adequate production. He and Giolito, two former high-end prospects, will once again take up 40 percent of Chicago’s rotation this season, while Shields is currently without a job. Carlos Rodon is also back as one of the team’s most proven starters, albeit after disappointing over 20 appearances in 2018. At least one newcomer – righty Ivan Nova, acquired from the Pirates in December – will slot in near the top of their staff, and fellow offseason pickup Manny Banuelos could join him in the starting five. The 32-year-old Nova isn’t going to wow anyone, but he’s a perfectly cromulent major league starter, having recorded ERAs in the low-4.00s and thrown 160-plus frames in each of the past three seasons. The 27-year-old Banuelos – a trade pickup from the Dodgers – is a former big-time prospect, but the lefty hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2015, when he totaled the only six starts of his career as a member of the Braves.

    Given the lack of major league success Giolito, Banuelos, and depth options Dylan Covey and Carson Fulmer have experienced, the White Sox would be well served to land more rotation possibilities before the season. Their situation would look a lot better if not for the Tommy John surgery prized prospect Michael Kopech underwent last September. He’ll miss the entire season as a result, though Chicago could get its first look at its No. 2 pitching prospect, Dylan Cease, this year.

    Orioles (2018 fWAR: 29th; 2018 ERA: 30th; projected 2019 rotation): Thanks in part to a less-than-stellar rotation, this is going to be the second ugly season in a row for the rebuilding Orioles. Internal improvement is possible, though, as returning starters Dylan Bundy, Alex Cobb and Andrew Cashner have all shown themselves capable of providing much better numbers than the production they registered over a combined 87 starts in 2018. Inexpensive free-agent signing Nate Karns is also a bounce-back candidate after sitting out most of 2017 and all of ’18 as he recovered from the dreaded thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. Aside from those four – any of whom could end up on the block during the season – no starting option on the Orioles’ 40-man roster has achieved success in the majors. Moreover, their farm system isn’t teeming with hurlers who are in line to make MLB impacts this season. With that in mind, rookie general manager Mike Elias may still be scouring the free-agent market for another cheap stopgap(s) after inking Karns earlier this week.

    Padres (2018 fWAR: 28th; 2018 ERA: 27th; projected 2019 rotation): The Padres shrewdly signed former Angel Garrett Richards, who’s recovering from Tommy John surgery, back in November. But Richards won’t return until later in the season, if he pitches at all in 2019. Other than Richards, the Padres haven’t picked up any starters of note this winter. It hasn’t been for lack of effort, though, as they’ve been connected to the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Corey Kluber, Dallas Keuchel, Marcus Stroman and Mike Leake, among others, in the rumor mill during recent months. Syndergaard and Kluber probably aren’t going anywhere, but Keuchel remains available in free agency and both Stroman and Leake could still be trade candidates. Having failed to secure anyone from that group, the Padres continue to possess an underwhelming rotation – one that received a combined 49 starts from the now-departed duo of Clayton Richard and Tyson Ross last season. However, Chris Paddack and Logan Allen, top-100 prospects and a couple of the many prizes in a San Diego system laden with talent, may debut sometime this year.

    Rangers (2018 fWAR: 27th; 2018 ERA: 29th; projected 2019 rotation): Of the seven Rangers who accrued the most starts in 2018, only one – lefty Mike Minor – remains. Fortunately for Texas, Minor was easily the best member of the club’s subpar septet. He’s now part of a completely remade starting staff which has reeled in Lance Lynn (three years, $30MM) and Shelby Miller (one year, $2MM) in free agency and Drew Smyly via trade with the Cubs. The team also has 2018 signing Edinson Volquez returning after he missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery. In all, it’s not the most compelling quintet, and it’s anyone’s guess what Miller, Smyly and Volquez will offer after their recent injury-wrecked seasons, but all five have at least shown flashes in the majors.

    The soon-to-be 32-year-old Lynn has been effective and durable for most of his career; Miller’s a former star prospect who prevented runs at an excellent clip from 2014-16; Smyly generally impressed as a starter over the same three-year span as Miller; and Volquez has five seasons of 170-plus frames under his belt. Meanwhile, other than newly added minor league signing Jason Hammel, the Rangers’ depth options have virtually no major league accomplishments. A few of their top-10 prospects – Jonathan Hernandez, Taylor Hearn and Joe Palumbo – are climbing up the minor league ladder and could be in Arlington soon, however.

    Reds (2018 fWAR: 26th; 2018 ERA: 25th; projected 2019 rotation): The Reds boasted a mostly healthy rotation in 2018, as six pitchers each made at least 20 starts, but no one was particularly good. Consequently, the Reds have acquired three proven MLB starters in various trades this offseason, having picked up Sonny Gray from the Yankees, Alex Wood from the Dodgers and Tanner Roark from the Nationals. There isn’t an ace among the trio, but all three are credible major league starters – which the Reds desperately needed, especially considering Matt Harvey walked in free agency. High-potential holdovers Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani, who have been inconsistent in the majors, will comprise the rest of Cincinnati’s upgraded rotation to begin the season. The Reds’ new additions will push 2018 regulars Sal Romano (25 starts of 5.48 ERA/5.10 FIP ball) and Tyler Mahle (23 starts, 4.98 ERA/5.25 FIP) into depth roles, which is a plus, as is the end of the Homer Bailey era. The Reds sent Bailey and the remains of his bloated contract to the Dodgers when they traded for Wood and outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp in a blockbuster December deal. Bailey produced catastrophic results from 2017-18, a 38-start, 197 1/3-inning span in which he mustered a 6.25 ERA.

    Blue Jays (2018 fWAR: 22nd; 2018 ERA: 28th; projected 2019 rotation): The Blue Jays’ rotation handily outdid the above teams’ by fWAR last year, yet the unit still compiled the majors’ third-worst ERA. Toronto has since made modest acquisitions by trading for Richard and signing Matt Shoemaker (one year, $3.5MM). They’ll serve as placeholders for a Jays team which is at least another full year away from vying for a playoff spot, and may listen to offers for its top two starters – Stroman and Aaron Sanchez – during the upcoming season. Both Stroman and Sanchez have been outstanding at times, but that wasn’t true of either in 2018, and the two are now entering their second-last seasons of team control. Stroman and Sanchez remain atop Toronto’s rotation for the time being, with all parties hoping the righties return to their past productive and healthy ways in 2019. Beyond those two, Richard, Shoemaker and Ryan Borucki, the Blue Jays don’t possess any starters who have done much in the majors, though Sam Gaviglio (37 starts), Sean Reid-Foley (seven) and Thomas Pannone (six) have at least gained some experience.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Designate Jack Reinheimer For Assignment]]> 2019-02-07T22:33:43Z 2019-02-07T22:31:04Z The Orioles announced Thursday that they’ve designated infielder Jack Reinheimer for assignment. His spot on the 40-man roster will go righty Nate Karns, whose previously reported one-year deal with the O’s is now official.

    Reinheimer, 26, has just 40 big league plate appearances under his belt, most of which came with the Mets in 2018. He’s batted .143/.250/.143 in that tiny MLB sample but can play all over the infield. He’s spent parts of three seasons in Triple-A, hitting .278/.343/.371 in 1376 PAs — rather timid production given the hitter-friendly nature of the Pacific Coast League.

    Reinheimer does have a minor league option remaining,which, paired with his versatility, has made him an attractive target on waivers this winter. Already this offseason, he’s been claimed by the Cubs, Rangers and Orioles, so while there’s a chance that he’ll make it through waivers and stick with the Orioles as a non-roster option in Spring Training, it’s also possible that he’ll once again land with a new organization.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Nate Karns]]> 2019-02-07T18:02:14Z 2019-02-07T17:44:32Z The Orioles have struck a deal with righty Nate Karns, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (Twitter link). He’ll earn $800K on a one-year term, with up to $200K in incentives.

    This signing, the first of new GM Mike Elias’s tenure, looks to be a nice match for all involved. Karns will help fill out the O’s rotation, which had some questions at the back end. He’ll have a chance to show he can finally move past the health issues that have plagued him in recent years.

    There’s upside here as well for the Baltimore organization. If Karns is at all successful, he ought to represent an appealing arbitration asset next fall. That’s not too great a concern for Karns, since he only would have one season of arb eligibility remaining. Effectively, the O’s pick up a club option the value of which will float with Karns’s on-field contributions. That contract situation also boosts the potential trade appeal if things go well.

    Karns had hoped to get back on track last year after thoracic outlet surgery cut short his 2017 campaign. He agreed to a $1.375MM deal with the Royals for his first arb-eligible season. As it turned out, though, elbow issues arose that cost him all of 2018.

    Previously, Karns had established himself as a talented, if somewhat inconsistent, MLB starter. He has thrown 310 2/3 total innings at the game’s highest level, carrying a 4.37 ERA with 9.3 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.

    Karns relies primarily on a four-seamer that sits just below 94 mph and a curve that he has historically spun on about one of every three pitches, with a change and sinker also rounding out his arsenal. That combination showed particular promise early in the ’17 campaign, with Karns carrying a personal-high 12.5% swinging-strike rate before going down.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles, Rangers, Astros Have Recently Scouted Yolbert Sanchez]]> 2019-02-06T01:51:43Z 2019-02-06T01:22:02Z As of today, 21-year-old Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez is formally cleared to sign with Major League clubs. Sanchez, who recently left Cuba and has since been living and working out in the Dominican Republic, emerged as the most touted talent on the international free-agent market in late January when it was first reported that he’d be cleared to sign on this day.

    At present, the Orioles and their near-$6MM signing pool are the runaway leaders in terms of pool money available. The Dodgers’ $1.4MM remaining pool is the next largest, though teams are still allowed to trade international funds between now and the close of the current signing period on June 15.

    According to’s Jesse Sanchez, the Orioles recently sent new general manager Mike Elias and a contingent of evaluators to the Dominican Republic to scout the newly available shortstop. The O’s aren’t the only ones who’ve seen him, however, as the report also indicates that Rangers president of baseball ops Jon Daniels and Astros president of baseball ops Jeff Luhnow were both in the Dominican Republic recently to scout Sanchez in person. Houston can’t offer Sanchez more than $300K until the next signing period begins on July 2, though Texas can trade for additional funds on top of the $850K the organization currently has in its pool.

    The point regarding the next signing period is a key distinction, particularly given that Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen tweeted today that Sanchez’s camp has told interested teams that one club has already put forth an offer of $2MM if he’s willing to wait until the 2019-20 signing period begins. That could be a negotiation tactic, though it’s common for teams to have verbal agreements with international free agents in place well in advance of the signing period’s commencement, and Sanchez is surely a know commodity to other clubs throughout the league.

    Sanchez isn’t necessarily considered an elite prospect, but he’ll turn 22 in March and, as such, could be closer to the Majors than most amateurs available in international free agency. Longenhagen and colleague Kiley McDaniel wrote at the time they reported Sanchez’s impending availability to MLB clubs that his glove, speed and throwing arm all draw above-average to plus ratings from scouts. His offensive upside, however, is not as universally agreed upon.

    Sanchez appeared in 128 appeared across parts of three seasons in the Cuban National Series before leaving the island in 2018 and batted a combined .297/.338/.345 through 435 plate appearances. Sanchez homered just once in that span, although the majority of his plate appearances came as a teenager and he struck out at just an 8.7 percent clip.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Marlins Claim Austin Brice, Designate Isaac Galloway]]> 2019-02-04T21:28:05Z 2019-02-04T21:00:00Z The Marlins announced that they’ve claimed right-hander Austin Brice off waivers from the Orioles and designated outfielder Isaac Galloway for assignment in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Miami also announced its previously reported trade of Nick Wittgren to the Indians.

    Brice, 26, returns to the organization for which he made his MLB debut back in 2016. The right-hander was initially a ninth-round pick by the Marlins back in 2010 and has spent part of the past three seasons in the Majors after going to Cincinnati with Luis Castillo in the Dan Straily trade, but he’s yet to find any real success. Brice saw a career-high 37 1/3 innings with the Reds last year but was knocked around for a 5.79 ERA with a 32-to-13 K/BB ratio (although, notably, six of those walks were intentional in nature).

    It’s been an eventful offseason for Brice, who was claimed by the Angels back on Nov. 2. He went to Baltimore on a waiver claim two months later in early January and will now join his fourth organization since the season ended. If he heads to camp with the Fish, he’ll bring a fastball that sits 94 mph and a solid, albeit unspectacular career swinging-strike rate of 10.1 percent.

    Galloway, 29, reached the big leagues for the first time in 2018 but hit just .203/.301/.391 in 74 trips to the plate. He did swat three homers and doubles apiece in that short time, but he’s never been much of a power threat in the upper minors. A career .256/.304/.393 hitter in parts of four Triple-A seasons, Galloway has logged more than 7600 innings in center field as a professional and has experience at all three outfield positions.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles' Massive International Pool Could Lead Them To Sanchez]]> 2019-02-04T15:36:05Z 2019-02-04T15:36:05Z Cuban shortstop Yolbert Sanchez will formally be eligible to sign with teams beginning tomorrow, and Joe Trezza of looks at the Orioles’ chances of signing the soon-to-be 22-year-old. While Baltimore’s level of interest in Sanchez isn’t fully clear to this point, they still have to be considered the favorite to add Sanchez given that their near-$6MM international pool is more than four times larger than the next-largest pool: the Dodgers’ $1.4MM. Trezza spoke to one non-Orioles exec who likened Sanchez to a second- or third-round pick in terms of overall talent, given his limited offensive potential but quality glove and speed. Still, while he may not be an elite prospect, Sanchez looks like the best international talent on the board at the moment, and the O’s have the spending capacity to trounce any offer made during the current signing period. Sanchez could, alternatively, wait until July 2 to sign, which would open the field up considerably.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles, Jesus Sucre Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2019-02-01T16:32:56Z 2019-02-01T16:32:56Z The Orioles are in agreement on a minor league contract with catcher Jesus Sucre, tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. He’ll be invited to Major League Spring Training and would earn $850K if he makes the big league roster. Sucre can also opt out of the contract on March 22 if he’s not on the MLB roster at that point.

    Sucre, 30, spent the past two seasons with the Rays, hitting a combined .232/.268/.330 with eight homers in 390 plate appearances spanning 135 games. Those numbers line up fairly well with Sucre’s career marks, though he’s more of a defensive-minded option behind the dish. Throughout his big league career, Sucre has halted 32 percent of stolen-base attempts against him, and he’s consistently registered above-average framing grades throughout his career (with the exception of last season), per Baseball Prospectus.

    Presently, the Orioles have only two catchers on the 40-man roster in Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns, though they’ll also have Carlos Perez and Andrew Susac in camp competing for roster spots.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Bleier Believes He'll Be Ready For Opening Day]]> 2019-01-31T15:16:47Z 2019-01-31T15:16:47Z
  • Orioles southpaw Richard Bleier tells Rich Dubroff of that he believes he’ll be ready to roll for the start of the 2019 season. That’s great news for the O’s, as Bleier had been a revelatory hurler before suffering a major injury to his lat. Already 31 years of age, Bleier certainly qualifies as a late bloomer. He’s also an outlier, having now made it through 119 MLB innings with a sub-2.00 ERA despite averaging just 4.1 strikeouts per nine. A big 63.3% groundball rate and low 1.6 BB/9 walk rate go a long way toward explaining the results. Before he can get back to disproving those who question the sustainability of that success, Bleier will need to show he’s back to full health. For the O’s, it would help quite a bit if he can do so. After all, Bleier could be quite a nice trade asset this summer or in the winter to come, especially since he’s still shy of reaching arbitration eligibility.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Jack Reinheimer, Designate Austin Brice]]> 2019-01-28T19:34:56Z 2019-01-28T19:34:56Z The Orioles announced today that they have claimed infielder Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Rangers. To create a 40-man roster opening, the O’s designated righty Austin Brice for assignment.

    This move makes for a textbook example of 40-man musical chairs. Reinheimer was designated by the Texas club after previously pinging from the Mets to the Cubs and then on to the Rangers. Likewise, Brice was a recent waiver addition for the Baltimore organization.

    Reinheimer, 26, has minimal experience at the game’s highest level. He has shown very little power in the minors but does have enough contact ability and plate discipline to carry a lifetime .344 on-base percentage. He has experience across the infield but has spent most of his time at shortstop.

    As for Brice, who’s also 26, there’s a bit more of a major-league track record to go on. Unfortunately, he carries only a 5.68 ERA through 84 innings. He does, however, have a mid-nineties heater and 10.1% swinging-strike rate in the big leagues.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[AL East Notes: Rays, Orioles, Hyde, Elias]]> 2019-01-27T18:17:51Z 2019-01-27T18:17:51Z Matt Duffy is slated to be the Rays starting third baseman, with newcomer Yandy Diaz also seeing time at the hot corner. Diaz figures to split his time between third, first and “eventually” the outfield, according to manager Kevin Cash. In terms of further offseason additions, pitching remains an eternal area of concern, though Cash is confident with the group they have now, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Signing a closer is not out of the question, but the trio of Jose Alvarado, Chaz Roe and Diego Castillo are likely to earn opportunity in the ninth. The Rays have consistently taken a depth approach to roster building, and it seems likely they will continue to avoid over-reliance on any one individual player (save maybe Blake Snell, who accepted his Cy Young award at the BBWAA award winners annual banquet this week). Topkin suggests an interesting trade target for the Rays in Ben Zobrist, and though it’s only speculation, Zobrist certainly fits the profile. If the Cubs are indeed listening to offers on the second baseman/outfielder, a return to Tampa would be one of the more intriguing matches. The acquisition of Zobrist (or a different veteran) would alleviate some urgency from less proven assets like Austin Meadows, Avisail Garcia and Ji-Man Choi, who as of now are being counted on to produce consistent offense in an AL East without much margin for error. Some rumblings from the depths of the AL East…

    • All signs point to a long process of development and roster building for new Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde, but it starts with the complex process of getting to know and evaluate the 58 guys scheduled to report to spring camp. Hyde hasn’t seen the Orioles live in action since July of 2017 with the Cubs, so it’s a lot of new names and faces for the first-time skipper. His plan: emphasize the simple. Per’s Rich Dubroff, Hyde’s philosophy starts and ends with a focus on the fundamentals, with sound defense and baserunning, and with a “workmanlike” and “positive” approach. Of course, striking the balance between workmanlike and positivity is much of the battle with a young squad sure to face its share of adversity, but as Hyde himself puts it, “that’s part of development, also.” Hyde is no stranger to rebuilds from his time with the Cubs – experience he will surely draw upon as he whittles the roster down to 25 by Opening Day.
    • There may be further additions to camp in coming weeks for Hyde to consider, per the Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli. This winter has unfurled another late-developing free agent market, making for an especially slow offseason for a bargain-bin hunter like the Orioles. Still, GM Mike Elias is keeping his eye on some short-term additions, especially on the pitching side. They do not anticipate adding any multi-year free agents, but bringing in a veteran or two on one-year contracts makes sense for a team without much flippable talent currently on hand. There are innings to be had in Baltimore, for sure, though without much urgency, Elias is taking his time evaluating the available options. It’s not a sexy approach, and it’s certainly a data point on the increasingly complex debate about team spending, but it’s good to see the Orioles taking a long-term outlook to building up their talent base under a new regime.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mike Elias On Adam Jones' Future ]]> 2019-01-27T05:54:10Z 2019-01-27T05:54:10Z
  • In terms of name value, Adam Jones ranks among the majors’ most prominent free agents, thanks to a successful 11-year run with the Orioles. Jones is coming off a below-average season, though, and as a 33-year-old corner outfielder whose best days as a hitter and defender are gone, he hasn’t drawn much reported interest in free agency. But there’s at least a glimmer of a chance the longtime Baltimore fan favorite will end up back with the Orioles, Joe Trezza of relays. Asked Saturday about the possibility of re-signing Jones, rookie general manager Mike Elias said, “I don’t think anything is a dead issue,” and added the Orioles are “monitoring everything.” At the same time, however, Elias suggested the rebuilding club may continue to avoid major league free agency, as it has done so far this winter. Should that prove to be the case, it seems likely to rule out a return for Jones, who figures to command a big league deal.
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