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Looking at the Orioles' needs halfway through the offseason


Looking at the Orioles' needs halfway through the offseason

As we head into the throes of holiday season, baseball’s hot stove period is nearing its midway point. And while the Orioles have made a few moves by trading for first baseman Mark Trumbo and re-signing Darren O'Day, there is still heavy lifting to be done before the team heads to Sarasota for spring training in February. 

Here are the three areas the Orioles still need to address now that we're halfway through the offseason:


1. The Chris Davis saga. It seems the Orioles' negotiations to re-sign free agent slugger Davis continue to drag on at a snail's pace. If their reported offer of seven years, $150 million is still on the table, Dan Duquette and company have to find a way to get a decision out of the 29-year-old first baseman and agent Scott Boras soon. If he signs, then Baltimore will have kept its biggest and best power bat. If he doesn't, then the O's are free to use that money to fill other holes. Whatever the outcome, they'll be better off once this standstill is over.  

2. Finding an everyday corner outfielder. One of the biggest disappointments for the Orioles in 2015 was that they couldn't adequately replace Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz once they left for free agency last winter. Other than stalwart centerfielder Adam Jones, Baltimore's outfield was seemingly reshuffling the deck every few weeks. Whether it was Alejandro De Aza, Delmon Young, Travis Snider, David Lough or Delmon Young, the Birds simply couldn't find players to lock down either of the corner outfield spots. 

That has to change this offseason. So far, the O's are said to have been interested in some of the big names out there such as Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes. But is it likely that this team, which has historically shied away from handing out big free agent contracts, would be willing to spend the type of cash it would take to acquire those players? There doesn't seem to be much of a precedent for it — especially if the aforementioned Davis is re-signed. That said, the second-tier options like Denard Span and Alex Gordon could fill the void, provided that they can stay healthy.

3. Acquiring a starting pitcher (or two) to replace Wei-Yin Chen. It seems apparent that if the Orioles are to find significant help in the rotation in the next few months, Duquette will have to get resourceful. The top-end arms are either no longer available or out of the Birds’ price range, so once again the second-tier market is key. Baltimore has been reportedly linked to Scott Kazmir, Mat Latos and Yovani Gallardo during the past few weeks — each of whom would be a big help for a group that ranked 25th in the majors in starter ERA at 4.53.   

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."