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Orioles need to make Wieters qualifying offer

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Orioles need to make Wieters qualifying offer

Between now and late Friday night, the Orioles must make qualifying offers to free agents.

They’re expected to make offers to Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

There’s really no reason not to.

While there’s been internal debate about Wieters, what do the Orioles have to lose in making him the offer?

Wieters has been a client of Scott Boras’ for even longer than he’s been with the Orioles. He’s certainly cherished his time with the Orioles, which is likely coming to an end, but he wouldn’t have stayed a Boras client if he didn’t trust his counsel.

Boras has been a vehement opponent of qualifying offers, and his clients, and all others, have rejected them.

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If the Orioles offer Wieters $15.8 million for 2016, he’ll reject it. Despite the hesitancies of some teams because of his 2014 Tommy John surgery, Wieters is by far the best catcher on the free agent market.

The Orioles value Wieters, and before the surgery did try to sign him to a long-term contract. Talks went nowhere.

In between then and now, Wieters had the surgery, and Caleb Joseph showed that he could be a creditable major league catcher.

In 2014, Joseph and Nick Hundley shared catching after Wieters’ surgery, and the Orioles handily won the AL East.

This is not to disparage Wieters. Not at all. After initially rehabbing at home, Wieters traveled with the Orioles in the final few months of 2014, offering counsel to the catchers and pitchers. He’s a terrific teammate.

He’ll be a great teammate somewhere else-whether it’s with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers or another team.

A rejection of the qualifying offer doesn’t stop a player from signing with the team. David Ortiz rejected a qualifying offer from the Red Sox in 2012 and re-signed for two more years shortly afterward.

Qualifying offers are a defensive move, not an offensive one. The only reason the Orioles have debated the Wieters offer is that they don’t want to spend $15.8 million on him next year. It would prevent them from doing other things.

The offer also ensures the team gets at least a draft choice as compensation. A year ago in the early stages of free agency, the Orioles did not make a qualifying offer to Nick Markakis.

Later, when his medical issues became known to them, they passed on him, but in retrospect perhaps they regret not making that qualifying offer.

Markakis signed a four-year contract with the Braves, and the Orioles were left with nothing but fond memories.

In 2014, the Orioles and Boras agreed on a $7.7 million contract for Wieters, and even after the surgery limited him to 26 games, they still came to terms on an $8.3 million contract. Boras saves his hard negotiating for free agency, not when the club has control.

Wieters played in 75 games, and had an irregular catching schedule, preventing him from playing as well as he has in years past.

Despite that, if the Braves were willing to look past Markakis’ medical issues, and he underwent neck surgery shortly after he signed with them, they and other teams, will probably overlook misgivings about Wieters.

The Orioles will move on without Wieters, but there’s still a slight chance he’d return. If Boras is unable to find a suitor, and I think he will, Wieters could accept a short-term contract with the Orioles.

But, with the likes of Alex Avila, Dioner Navarro, A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia heading the other free agent catchers, the guess here is that Boras finds another team—or more—to meet his price.

And we’ll be left to argue whether Wieters was the greatest catcher in Orioles history.

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

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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

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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