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Wieters' return to the Orioles is good for everyone


Wieters' return to the Orioles is good for everyone

Matt Wieters is certainly pragmatic. He proved that on Friday. Wieters shocked everyone by agreeing to accept the Orioles’ $15.8 million qualifying offer.

He’ll be back with the Orioles in 2016. But, who will be with him?

The team has four players signed for next year: Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Ubaldo Jimenez and Adam Jones. They account for $57.6 million.

Zach Britton, Miguel Gonzalez, Manny Machado and Chris Tillman will be the most expensive of the 11 arbitration-eligible players the team will sign for next year.

Some of the more expensive arb-eligibles, Brian Matusz and Vance Worley, could now conceivably be traded or non-tendered.

With those players and the younger ones, the Orioles’ 2016 payroll is already at about $100 million.

How much room does that leave for additional free agency? If the Orioles have increased payroll flexibility, it could mean another $35 million. (Last year, their payroll reached about $120 million).

That would enable them to sign Chris Davis, but probably not enable them to spend much more on outside free agents such as Alex Gordon or Scott Kazmir, players who could fill the holes the Orioles want filled.

All along, Dan Duquette has said that he thought the team could sign “a couple” of their free agents. While many fans think the club shouldn’t have offered so much money to a catcher who missed so much time in 2014 and 2015, well they’re wrong.

After spending so much time and energy on Wieters’ rehabilitation, they didn’t want to have nothing in case he walked, and it looked like he would have.

RELATED: Wieters' return pleases Duquette, Davis talks go on

Until this week, none of the previous 34 free agents accepted a qualifying offer in the first three years of the system. Wieters, Houston’s Colby Rasmus and the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Brett Anderson all took the deal.

While Wieters’ agent, Scott Boras repeated his vehement opposition to the qualifying offer at this week’s General Managers meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., he never ruled out the catcher accepting it.

Boras surveyed the market, and couldn’t find any appetizing deals for Wieters.

As an agent, he’s gotten burned by the qualifying offer. Two years ago, Stephen Drew rejected Boston’s qualifying offer and then held out until May and lost several million dollars as a result.

Boras could have advised Wieters to wait. Teams always need catcher, and if a front-line catcher on a big money team got hurt in spring training, Wieters could potentially cash in.

But, like his manager, Buck Showalter, Wieters likes to be prepared. If he found an offer with a new team he liked, he could have spent a few months studying his new pitchers. Wieters wouldn’t want to join a club in March, and as astute and as quick a study as he is, he’d still have to cram and learn a new staff.

Even though it’s unlikely now that Wei-Yin Chen or Darren O’Day returns, Wieters will have many pitchers he knows, and he’ll be quick to make comfortable the new ones.

His signing enables Duquette, even if he fails to sign other free agents, and I think he will, to claim victory. The Orioles retained the best catcher on the free agent market.

If he has a good year, Wieters will probably go through this once again next year, and maybe then he’ll really leave.

When he says he’s comfortable in Baltimore, well, he is. Could he be comfortable in Atlanta, his adopted home town? Sure.

But, he has a manager who appreciates him even if the reaction from the fan base was decidedly mixed. Those who criticize him don’t see the work he puts in, the ability he has to coax Chris Tillman through a tough start or the hours he spent with Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph in 2014 when he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Wieters never has become the superstar catcher many had hoped. He strikes out too much and runs too slowly. But, he has power and most important still has a good arm.

In 2015, he threw out 31 percent of runners trying to steal, just a tick below his lifetime average.

So, Wieters will be back, and so will Joseph, and most likely Steve Clevenger, too.

There won’t be an additional draft choice as compensation for Wieters leaving, but there will be something better.

The best catcher in the history of the Baltimore Orioles will be back for at least one more season.

MORE ORIOLES: Wieters says comfort level in Baltimore big factor

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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

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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