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Orioles looking for pitching as MLB Draft begins tonight

Orioles looking for pitching as MLB Draft begins tonight

BALTIMORE—The Orioles will have to wait some time on Thursday night before they have their first round selection in this year's first-year player draft. They’ll pick 27th in the first round and will also have the 54th and 69th selections tonight. 

The 3rd-10th rounds will be Friday and the 11th-40th rounds are on Saturday.

The draft begins at 7 p.m. on Thursday. 

Because they signed Yovani Gallardo in February, the Orioles forfeited the 13th pick, but received the 27th because they lost Wei-Yin Chen as a free agent. 

“We hope to add significantly to our prospect base,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquete said. “We’ve put a lot of focus on the pitching.” 

This is Duquette’s fifth draft, and he’s been working with Scouting Director Gary Rajsich since he joined the Orioles in Nov. 2011.

“If we’re going to have a competitive team year in and year out, we’ve got to being in good players to our system, and we hope to be able to replenish our system through the draft this year,” Duquette said. 

Kevin Gausman was the Orioles’ first round selection in 2012. High school pitcher Hunter Harvey was the first pick in 2013. The team didn’t have one until the third round in 2014 because they signed Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, and last year, Florida State outfielder DJ Stewart was the first pick. 

There’s some thinking the Orioles will use the first pick to select a pitcher. Would it be a high school or college pitcher?

“If you look at the history of the draft, it takes a little longer for the high school pitchers to get there, and the odds are against you from an injury perspective. So if a team’s going to take a high school pitcher, they need to have a pretty clear idea that that pitcher’s going to be healthy and be able to give them that service,” Duquette said.

“We drafted Gausman out of college. He got here healthy, he’s been able to help the team. We’ve had some injury issues with Hunter Harvey and of course [Dylan] Bundy, but Bundy’s up here pitching. So you have to keep an eye on that. The other point to make is if you have a top-10 pick in the draft, you got a chance to get a really good player, and with the team having finished pretty well over the last five years, up in the standings, we haven’t had the luxury of drafting in the top 10. When we did, we did a pretty good job of it. We picked Wieters, we picked Manny Machado. But we haven’t had the luxury of drafting high, so we’ve got to work a little bit harder and get the depth and identify the players that we think will be able to project to be big leaguers in the future.”

When Duquette was hired, he put a premium on acquiring players through the draft.

“There’s areas you can always do better in. I think part of assessing your team and helping your organization is looking at areas where you can do better. I don’t think we’re ever happy with any of our drafts, although I’ve got to say that we’ve gotten some good return pretty quickly from some of our drafts, and there’s some more players on the way. The big thing to have available is players to trade when you’re in a pennant race so that you can add to the team. Or, you can bring up players to help you. Recently, we’ve been trading them because we’ve been in contention, so we’ve got to keep restocking our pipeline and keep things going all the time.”

With the Orioles in first place in the AL East and the July 31 trading deadline coming into sight, Duquette may find some of his previous draftees as handy trading tools. 

He would like to be aggressive in the trade market. 

“I hope so. I hope we’re in a position where we can add some position to this team to get it over the top,” Duquette said. 

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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."

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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."