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De Aza designated for assignment as Flaherty returns

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De Aza designated for assignment as Flaherty returns

BALTIMORE –- The Orioles are concerned about J.J. Hardy’s back, and with Ryan Flaherty returning from his second stint on the disabled list with a right groin injury, they surprisingly designated outfielder Alejandro De Aza for assignment on Wednesday.

De Aza, who was 1-for-14, batted .214 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 30 games. His 34 strikeouts were second on the team.

“It’s all tough. Ryan’s healthy and ready to go. We have to make sure that he and J.J. are fine from an infield coverage standpoint, and we’ve been probably an outfielder heavy,” manager Buck Showalter said.

“I think in the long run, like I told Alejandro, it’s going to work out better for him. It gives us an opportunity to trade him, which I’m sure Dan looked into already; I know he has, gauging interest. If nothing works out to our satisfaction or advantage, he, like he probably would have been at the end of this year, pick and choose from some teams that would have had interest in him. He’s going to end up in a better situation.”

The Orioles acquired De Aza last August 30 from the Chicago White Sox for minor league pitchers Mark Blackmar and Miguel Chalas.

In 20 games with the Orioles last year, De Aza hit .293 with three home runs and 10 RBIs.

“I feel good for him in the long run. I think he’ll understand it as he gets away from it. We know he’s capable of better and he’ll probably be able to do that somewhere else, but we kind of got into a situation [where] we had to make a move. It’s not going to be the first time, either. We’re going to have some more of those coming up, some tough ones with other people coming back to us. That’s also why we had to acquire players for the depth that we’ve had to have for the first part of the season.”

Everth Cabrera, who’s batting .205 in 25 games, represents infield insurance if Hardy, who came out of Monday’s game with a tight back, and Flaherty who’s been twice disabled with a strained right groin, are unable to play.

“I’m not going to get into who the competition was to take off. I know Ryan’s coming back, so a lot of people immediately think it might be an infielder, but [we] want to make sure,” Showalter said. “You still better cover yourself if there’s an issue in case something crops up with J.J. You better be sure you’re covered. We like our depth down there: Paul Janish. Nobody catches the ball much better than him, and of course [Rey] Navarro has presented himself as an option, so we feel good about that, but we want to take each case as it comes and see what best fits for us.”

De Aza took the Orioles to arbitration in February. He lost the case and has a $5 million salary. He began the season as the leadoff hitter, but as his strikeouts mounted, Manny Machado took over the top spot from the 31-year-old. He was 7-for-21 (.333) in the postseason.

“I think what he did for us the last third of the season is indicative of what he is capable of and probably will do this year at some point for somebody else. But that somebody else is not in the situation that we’re in as a team,” Showalter said.

“He showed flashes of it, and he will again. He’s a young man.”

The Orioles had two other left-handed outfielders, David Lough and Travis Snider, both of whom could be under team control next season.

“This is about roster management and where we are at right now, and trying to make sure that we’ve covered ourselves as we go forward. You just do that math of people that are coming back and some places where guys don’t have options. The options are there to protect the player. That’s why at some point they ran out of options so you can’t hoard players,” Showalter said.

Showalter said that Brian Matusz’s impending suspension did not affect the Orioles’ decision.

The manager was fond of De Aza. “Tough conversation with Allie, good kid, good people,” Showalter said.
 

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Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Orioles add to their rotation, sign RHP Andrew Cashner

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Baltimore Orioles signed right-hander Andrew Cashner to a two-year, $16 million contract on Thursday after searching for starting pitching all offseason.

The 31-year-old Cashner is 42-64 with a 3.80 ERA in eight major league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, San Diego, Miami and Texas, including 11-11 with a 3.40 ERA for the Rangers last year. The deal with the Orioles has an option for 2020.

He'll join right-handers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman in the rotation.

"I do know that they need some starting pitching, and here it is, show up every day and whoever I can help out, help out and my job is to come here and pitch and win," Cashner said.

Cashner's deal could be worth $41 million over three seasons if he pitches 200 innings annually. He gets a $3 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments each Jan. 15 from 2020 through 2021.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Cashner has salaries of $5 million this season and $8 million in 2019, and there is a $10 million option for 2020 that would become guaranteed if he pitches 340 innings combined in the next two seasons. If he reaches 360 innings, it would become a player option.

He can make $5 million in performance bonuses each year.

There are $1,525,000 per season in bonuses based on starts: $250,000 each for 10 and 15, $625,000 for 20 and $400,000 for 30.

Cashner also can make $3,475,000 each year based on innings: $250,000 each for 110 and 120, $275,000 for 130, $350,000 for 140, $750,000 for 150 and $400,000 apiece for 170, 180, 190 and 200.

Cashner was at the Orioles' spring training facility, and was due to head to his Texas home for a few days before returning on Sunday when Baltimore's full squad is required to report. He'll likely work out with the team for the first time Monday.

He has little experience against the Orioles, but said he was excited to join the team.

"It's a lineup you can't really make a lot of mistakes against," Cashner said. "It's a lot of power in there, and I got to pitch (for) San Diego one year in Baltimore. Really cool stadium, really neat, a lot of history. It's one of my favorite places to pitch, so I'm looking forward to making that my home (stadium) every night."

RELATED: ORIOLES TO SHUFFLE UP INFIELD AHEAD OF MACHADO'S FINAL SEASON

Manager Buck Showalter said Cashner would be an ideal addition to the club.

"He's a veteran starter. That's a good deal for both us and him," Showalter said. "He's a guy who's pitched well in the American League. That's something that I think played in his favor."

Cashner said that he began negotiations with Orioles Vice President of Baseball Operations Brady Anderson last fall and in a challenging offseason for free agents, he said patience was vital.

"I don't think it's been difficult. It's been interesting. It's been different," Cashner said.

To make room for Cashner on the 40-man roster, Baltimore placed left-hander Zach Britton (Achilles) on the 60-day disabled list.

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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

RELATED: TWO FORMER ORIOLES ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME

Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

RELATED: ZACH BRITTON TEARS ACHILLES

Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."