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Orioles will face another interesting Wieters debate

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Orioles will face another interesting Wieters debate

This winter’s seemingly never ending drama over Chris Davis is not likely to be repeated by the Orioles—at least not next winter.

If you like the current makeup of the club, that’s good news. If you’re dissatisfied with it, that’s not good news at all.

Only four of the 40 players currently on the Orioles’ roster are entering their free agent year: Brian Matusz, Nolan Reimold, Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters.

That means that a year from now, the Orioles could maintain control over nearly all of their roster.

Matusz and Reimold won’t be headline grabbing free agents, but Trumbo and Wieters could.

It will be fascinating to watch Wieters this season. He’ll swat away questions about this contract status just as he did in 2015.

A few years ago, around the time that Buster Posey signed a long-term extension with the San Francisco Giants, there was chatter that the Orioles and Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras, talked about an extension.

The year before Wieters’ free agent season, the catcher underwent Tommy John surgery, and because he didn’t catch often on consecutive days, his market wasn’t as strong as he’d hoped for.

Wieters quickly accepted the team’s qualifying offer, and he’s back for another year at $15.8 million.

There was much debate about whether to offer Wieters the money. Was he worth $15.8 million? If they hadn’t offered it, and he signed elsewhere, the Orioles would essentially have invested eight years in Wieters’ development and emerged with nothing.

Some thought that if Wieters took the money, the Orioles would have a hard time retaining Chris Davis and Darren O’Day. That turned out not to be the case.

The Orioles and Wieters were only in the position they were because in 2009, Dan Duquette’s predecessor, Andy MacPhail refused to call Wieters up from Norfolk until late May, giving the team another year of control.

It was obvious Wieters was better than Gregg Zaun and Chad Moeller the team’s two catchers, but MacPhail did what was best for the Orioles even though he was long gone by the time the move paid off.

The move turned out better for Wieters. If he had been a free agent after 2014, he would have been a giant unknown for other teams after Tommy John surgery. Instead, he a small raise to $8.3 million in 2015.

If he has a good year, Wieters, who turns 30 in May, will be one of the top free agents on the market, and the Orioles again will be faced with the decision on whether to proffer a qualifying offer.

Until November, no player accepted a qualifying offer. Wieters, the Dodgers’ Brett Anderson and Houston’s Colby Rasmus did this time around.

Had Wieters left, Caleb Joseph would likely have been the starting catcher. The Orioles would have tried to sign a veteran catcher, but when he returned, they were free to trade another catcher, Steve Clevenger to Seattle for Trumbo.

The Mariners were looking to reduce payroll, and they didn’t want to pay Trumbo the $9.15 million he got from the Orioles.

Trumbo hasn’t played with the Orioles, yet. He was acquired about 10 days before FanFest and he wasn’t able to attend. The team doesn’t know a lot about him.

He’ll probably be the primary designated hitter, but could get some time in right field, and perhaps even first base if manager Buck Showalter decides to give Davis a day off from the field.

From 2011-13, Trumbo averaged more than 30 home runs and 90 RBIs with the Los Angeles Angels. If he approaches those figures with the Orioles, he’ll be could be one of the most sought after hitters on the market.

The Orioles will again be faced with the question of whether to give him a qualifying offer.

With Davis’ return, the Orioles have six picks among the first 100 selections in the draft. Unless they suddenly sign one of the four remaining players who receive a qualifying offer, they’ll pick 14th in the first round.

One of those players, Ian Desmond, has recently been linked with Tampa Bay, and if he signs with the Rays, the Orioles would move up to 13th.

Dexter Fowler, Yovani Gallardo and Howie Kendrick are the others.

If the Orioles acquire any free agents during the season as they did in the past two seasons with Andrew Miller and Gerardo Parra, they would not subject to a qualifying offer.

The qualifying offer is likely to be a hot subject in the upcoming talks for the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Talks will begin during spring training.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles payroll continues to move up

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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."