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Many big-name free agents still available for Orioles


Many big-name free agents still available for Orioles

There wasn’t the expected Christmas rush by players and teams to sign free agents.

While the Orioles did officially sign South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim to a two-year, $7 million contract just before the holiday break began, an unprecedented number of big name free agents don’t yet have a baseball home for 2016 and beyond.

That’s a huge upset.

Two weeks ago, it seemed that most of the top free agents were gone, and those who weren’t would be in short order.

That didn’t happen.

RELATED Orioles formally announce Hyun-soo Kim signing

As we prepare of 2016, not only do Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Davis not have employers for the upcoming season, but many others don’t, either.

Pedro Alvarez, Yoenis Cespedes, Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler, Alex Gordon, Howie Kendrick, Denard Span, and Justin Upton are among the prominent hitters without a job.

Yovani Gallardo, Scott Kazmir and Ian Kennedy are top name pitchers looking for work, too.

Some of these have gotten offers, good ones, too. Davis had the reported seven-year, $150 one from the Orioles. The Orioles have also shown interest in Alvarez, Gordon and Upton.

Span will conduct a workout for interested teams next month.

They’ve also been serious about Gallardo and Kazmir, too.

Some of those who haven’t signed were given qualifying offers, and it may be a drag on the market for Desmond, Fowler, Kendrick and Kennedy.

A record 20 players were given qualifying offers, and for the first time, three players took the $15.8 million bait. They could return to what’s considered a relatively weak free agent market a year from now.

So could some of the others, but teams may not want to sign players to one-year deals when the cost is a draft pick.

While nearly two months of free agency are behind us, the Orioles still don’t report to Sarasota, Fla. for spring training until Feb. 18, more than six weeks from now.

Some of the big money teams have spent big money—Boston (David Price), Chicago Cubs (Jason Heyward) Detroit (Jordan Zimmermann), San Francisco (Johnny Cueto), a few big spenders: the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rangers and Yankees haven’t splurged, yet, but still may do so.

Each year, there’s always one team that unexpectedly jumps in on a big name, and this year it was Arizona, which lavished its riches on Zack Greinke.

While I was off for a week, a reader wondered about the Orioles and Cespedes.

When Cespedes defected from Cuba, the Orioles showed interest, but were outbid by Oakland.

Cespedes, who turned 30 during the postseason, is seeking a six-year contract. That has probably scared teams away.

His stats have been excellent, especially in the last two months of the 2015 season with the New York Mets.

Cespedes gave the Mets the offensive spark they needed, hitting 17 homers and driving in 44 runs in 57 games. He even got some MVP votes.

He’s certainly an exciting player, but there are some cautionary signs.

Cespedes was traded three times in a year. Oakland traded him to Boston, and they moved him to Detroit, which sent him to the Mets.

Excellent players aren’t usually traded that often.

He plays left field, and the Orioles signed Kim, who’s unproven at the major league level to play there. Cespedes has never played right field.

In 16 games in Baltimore, Cespedes has a .261 average with three home runs and 11 RBIs.

If he wants a one-year platform deal, perhaps the Orioles could sign him because he wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer. He’ll probably have to settle for less than a six-year deal, but he should get a nice offer shortly after the New year begins.

As for Davis, we’ll continue to wait.

CATCHING UP: There were several moves over the past week:

-Left-handed pitcher Edgar Olmos, who was claimed on waivers earlier this month from Seattle, was lost on waivers to the Chicago Cubs.

-Tim Berry, who spent one night in the Orioles bullpen in June 2014, but didn’t pitch, was claimed on waivers by Miami.

-Infielder Rey Navarro, designated for assignment when Darren O’Day was re-signed, was claimed on waivers by the Los Angeles Angels.

The Orioles currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

-The Orioles re-signed pitcher Bobby Bundy to a minor league contract and also brought back outfielder Xavier Avery, signing him to a minor league contract. Terry Doyle, who was 16-2 with a 2.16 ERA with Bowie and Norfolk has also been signed to a minor league contract.

Minor league catcher Zach Kapstein was acquired from Boston for cash considerations. Kapstein is the nephew of Jeremy Kapstein, who recently joined the Orioles front office after a long stint with the Red Sox.

-Former Orioles Robert Andino and Troy Patton were signed to minor league contracts by the Marlins.

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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."


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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm