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In retrospect, Jimenez signing wasn't bad for Orioles


In retrospect, Jimenez signing wasn't bad for Orioles

Everyone knows the Orioles want to improve their pitching staff for 2016. They’ve shown interest in free agent starters Yovani Gallardo and Scott Kazmir.

Both Gallardo and Kazmir are two of the handful of remaining top free agent pitchers. Neither is top shelf, but either would make a useful addition to the Orioles.

Some might think that the Orioles should favor Kazmir because he’s left-handed, and the current rotation has no left-hander, and because his signing would not cost the team a draft choice next June.

Gallardo, who received a qualifying offer from Texas, would necessitate the team losing a draft pick to sign him. Kazmir, who was traded from Oakland to Houston in July, couldn’t be given a qualifying offer.

At this month’s Winter Meetings, Dan Duquette seemed to be adverse to losing a first round choice (the Orioles pick is the 14th), but two years ago, they not only surrendered their first, but their second round picks in the June 2014 draft for signing Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Orioles weren’t scheduled to pick as high in the 2014 draft as they are this year, Duquette said. But, that probably won’t stop the Orioles if they want to sign Gallardo, Alex Gordon or Justin Upton—if their prices are right.

Conventional wisdom is that Duquette made a shrewd move in signing Cruz to a one-year contract. His bat was instrumental in the Orioles winning the AL East, but regrettably the team didn’t offer him a four-year contract, and he was lost in free agency a year ago.

Many of those who think that the Cruz signing was wise also think that the Jimenez signing was a mistake—and they’re mistaken.

While Jimenez struggled mightily in 2014, and fell out of the starting rotation in the last six weeks of the season and was left off the ALCS roster, he was the club’s leading winner in 2015.

Jimenez’s first half was better than his second half, but he made huge improvements from 2014. His control was better and his WHIP was lower than both Miguel Gonzalez’s and Chris Tillman’s.

The Orioles must pay $25 million over the next two years to Jimenez, and while that’s not a bargain, it’s the going rate for serviceable big league starters.

At the beginning of free agency, Toronto signed J.A. Happ for $36 million over three years, about what the Orioles paid for Jimenez.

Happ has a major league record of 62-61 with an ERA of 4.13. When Jimenez signed with the Orioles he was 82-75 with a 3.92 ERA.

Interestingly, according to Baseballreference.com, the pitcher whose stats most resemble Jimenez in baseball history, is Kazmir, who reportedly is looking for a four-year deal.

At the time of Jimenez’s signing in Feb. 2014, the Orioles went beyond their comfort zone with a fourth year, but aren’t likely to do that with Kazmir.

Not only was Jimenez not overpaid, his presence at the back end of the rotation gives the team one fewer hole to fill. If the team finds another starter who’s around for more than one year, then the team can have a stable starting staff in 2017 as well.

For fans fretting about the draft pick lost, there’s no predicting who the team would have selected in the first round that year. And for all the good first round picks who have been important contributors—Kevin Gausman, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Brian Matusz and Matt Wieters, the Orioles haven’t drafted a pitcher who won as many games as Jimenez won last year since Erik Bedard won 13 in 2007.

NOTES: Ned Rice, the Orioles Director of Major League Administration, is leaving the team to join the Philadelphia Phillies as an assistant general manager. Rice will join Duquette’s predecessor Andy MacPhail, with the Philadelphia Phillies.

-Now that the Orioles have reached agreement with infielder Paul Janish on a minor league contract with a major league spring training invitation, the team has at least 11 players likely to begin the spring at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.

Last month the team announced that pitchers Pedro Beato, Cesar Cabral, Todd Redmond and Ashur Tolliver, infielders Ozzie Martinez and Steve Tolleson and catcher Audry Perez had received invitations.

The signings of Janish, pitcher Jeff Beliveau and outfielders Xavier Avery and Alfredo Marte have yet to be announced, but the latter three have substantial major league experience.

Assuming a full 40-man roster (it’s currently at 39), the Orioles should have room for a few more invitations to camp. The team will decide after next month’s minicamp if Hunter Harvey will come to big league camp. Manager Buck Showalter wants fewer than 60 players on hand so that an auxiliary clubhouse doesn’t have to be used.

MORE ORIOLES: Many big-name free agents still available for Orioles

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

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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