Mat Latos signed with the Chicago White Sox for $3 million on Tuesday. Late last month, Doug Fister agreed on a one-year, $7 million contract with the Houston Astros.
The Orioles were interested in both of them.
Is it possible that with the Orioles’ payroll nearing $140 million, a number unfathomable not long ago, that the team has reached its spending limit?
Will any remaining signings be for the minimum salary or just above?
The Orioles are acutely sensitive to ticket prices, and they deliberated for an extended time before they announced just their third raise in 12 seasons on Tuesday.
They wanted to see if they would be able to sign Chris Davis, and they did. It was a popular move, and prices had to go up.
With so many quality unsigned players around baseball, it seems possible that not only the Orioles, but several other teams with payrolls all around $140 million could have reached their max.
Pedro Alvarez, Jeff Francoeur, David Freese, Tommy Hunter, Austin Jackson, Matt Joyce, David Murphy, Jimmy Rollins, Alfredo Simon, Will Venable and Shane Victorino all remain unsigned.
So are Ian Desmond, Dexter Fowler and Yovani Gallardo.
Even if the Orioles aren’t tapped out, they still have another option for Gallardo. In this one, they won’t have to surrender their first round draft pick.
It’s possible if they want until June, they could have both.
Two years ago, Kendrys Morales, who had turned down a qualifying offers from the Los Angeles Angels, and was frustrated not to receive a multi-year contract, waited until June 8 to sign with Minnesota.
The Twins didn’t have to forfeit a draft pick, but it turned out Morales didn’t play well with the Twins. He was quickly traded to Seattle and after a disappointing season, signed a two-year contract with Kansas City.
Stephen Drew also waited until the season started to sign, but he re-signed with Boston, with whom he had played the year before.
Gallardo is one of three free agents whose 2015 teams had given them qualifying offers. Desmond and Fowler are the others. Their markets undoubtedly have been damaged because of the draft pick compensation.
If they wait until the season is two months old, they can sign anywhere without compensation.
In 2014, three free agents tied to qualifying offers: Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana waited until spring training had already begun before signing.
If Gallardo is still unsigned, and the Orioles have a desperate need for another starter in early June, they could try to sign him. Presumably, he’ll have lots of other suitors, too.
In this most improbable of offseasons, free agency may not be over when spring training begins eight days from now.