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Five free agents to look at, five to look away from


Five free agents to look at, five to look away from

Free agency is coming, and the Orioles are getting ready. With that in mind, here are some free agents the team ought to consider and some they shouldn’t.

Five to look at:

1) Maicer Izturis

The Orioles had a good experience with Cesar Izturis, so why not take a chance with his brother?

There’s a hole at second base and it’s possible that Jonathan Schoop could fill it in a year. It’s also possible that Schoop, who’ll probably start next year at Norfolk is a better shortstop.

Izturis could be an affordable stopgap at second base. In 29 games at second base for the Angels in 2012, Izturis didn’t commit an error. He has 10 in 246 career games at second.

If Robert Andino isn’t back, the 31-year-old Izturis could fill the “superutility” role that Andino was supposed to play.

2) Kelly Johnson

He strikes out a lot, but with Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis, the Orioles don’t seem to be afraid of players who fan. Johnson also hits home runs, 63 in the past three seasons.

A durable player, Johnson has played more than 140 games in five of his seven years. That’s what the Orioles got from Brian Roberts at second base before 2010.

At 30, Johnson could command a multi-year contract, and the Orioles may be reluctant to offer one. Johnson made $6.375 million with Toronto last year.

3) Jeff Keppinger

He may be a cheaper Johnson. Keppinger will turn 33 next April. He’s bounced around a lot, six teams in eight years, but in 2012, had his best year with Tampa Bay.

Keppinger batted .325 in 115 games with the Rays. He doesn’t walk a lot, but he’s committed just 14 errors in 307 games at second base.

He made $1.525 million last year which might make him attractive to the Orioles.

4) Kyle Lohse

He’s 34, but Lohse seems to be getting better. He was 16-3 with a 2.86 ERA in a career high 211 innings for the Cardinals. That’s what the Orioles need.

His age may scare some suitors off, but a three-year deal for a durable starter seems acceptable. A three-year $40 million contract for a 34-year-old starter may scare the Orioles away.

5) James Shields

The Rays may want to trade him. They may not want to exercise his $9 million option for 2013. If they want to trade him or if he’s a free agent, the Orioles should snap him up.

Tampa Bay probably won’t want to trade him within the division, but Shields who struck out 15 Orioles just a few weeks back, is one of the better right-handers around. He could be the ace the Orioles are seeking.

Five to keep away from:

1) Zack Greinke

Greinke is talented and will be a highly sought-after free agent. The 29-year-old has anxiety issues and is high maintenance. The Orioles don’t need a potentially disruptive player like him in their easy-going clubhouse.

He seemed to do better in low pressure markets like Kansas City and Milwaukee. Baltimore might also fall into that category. He was 6-2 after a trade to the Angels, and only a big market team might offer him a five-year $100 million deal.

2) Erik Bedard

In the past few years, there’s been some talk about bringing him back, but the Orioles should ignore that.

Bedard won 28 games in 2006 and 2007 his last two years with the Orioles. He’s 12-23 in his last two seasons.

The moody left-hander was traded to Seattle for Adam Jones, Chris Tillman and George Sherrill. That was a great trade. Bringing him back wouldn’t be such a great move.

3) Jeremy Guthrie

Enormously popular with fans, he was less popular with Orioles management. Guthrie has finally reached free agency.

He’ll be 34 just after Opening Day. His trade to Colorado was a good one for the Orioles, a bad one for him. After the Rockies dumped him, Guthrie was 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA for the Royals.

While it would be intriguing to see him pitch for a good team, the Orioles can better spend their money elsewhere.

4) Joe Blanton

The Orioles wouldn’t give up Schoop for him, so the Phillies sent him to the Dodgers instead. He gives up way too many home runs to be effective at Oriole Park.

5) Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton = Albert Belle

The Orioles regret the enormous five-year contract they gave Belle. The angry slugger played two seasons before he broke down.

Hamilton hit four home runs in Baltimore in May, but has all sorts of personal issues. He was criticized by Rangers team president Nolan Ryan, who said Hamilton picked a bad time to quit smokeless tobacco. He looked lost late in the season.

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

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Orioles' Adam Jones purchases Cal Ripken Jr.'s former estate, per report

Cal Ripken Jr.'s 25-acre, 8,545 square-foot home went up for auction this past Saturday and the highest bidder was......Adam Jones? 

The center fielder is purchasing the Orioles legend's former Reisterstown, Md. estate, according to The Athletic

Placed on the market in 2016 for $12.5 million, Ripken reduced the price to $9.7 million last year but was still unable to find a willing buyer. The estate was eventually put up for auction and sold to Jones for an undisclosed amount. 

The six bedroom home has 10 full bathrooms, a movie theater, a gym that overlooks an indoor basketball court, a pool and a baseball field with batting cages, a locker room and soaking tubs. One of the tubs was taken from Memorial Stadium and used by Johnny Unitas and Art Donovan, but Ripken is keeping that one. 

What makes this purchase even more interesting is that Jones will become a free agent at the end of the 2018 season, but that does not mean he plans on re-signing with the team. The 32-year old, who is in his last year of a six-year $85.5 million contract, is known to dip his toes in real estate investments and his wife, Audie Fugett, is a Baltimore native. 

The deal is scheduled to close on June 11. 


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David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense


David Price's complete game shuts down Baltimore's offense

BOSTON -- One strike away from a four-hit shutout, David Price happily settled for a complete game and his strongest outing of the season.

Price struck out eight and held Baltimore to five hits, including two in the ninth when the Orioles broke up the shutout before the Boston left-hander finished them off in a 6-2 victory for the Red Sox on Thursday night.

"He was amazing," Boston manager Alex Cora said. "He was outstanding. You saw it. Bad swings, up, down, in and out, changeup, cutter, sinkers ... that was fun to watch."

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the first, and Xander Bogaerts homered with two on during a four-run fifth, giving Price more than enough cushion against the struggling Orioles.

Price (4-4) struck out eight and didn't walk a batter while winning consecutive starts for the first time this season. He cruised through the first eight innings before Andrew Susac led off the ninth with a double, the first Baltimore player to reach second base in the game.

Manny Machado spoiled the shutout bid with a two-out homer, but Price finished off Baltimore on Jonathan Schoop's pop-up to center as the Red Sox improved to 4-0 against Baltimore by taking the makeup game that was rained out on Patriots' Day.

"They're a free-swinging team," said Price, who threw just 95 pitches. "You can go out there and do that or you can go out there for three innings and give up a bunch of runs."

Danny Valencia had a pair of hits for the punchless Orioles, who have lost three of four and have the second-fewest wins in the American League. Valencia nearly had a double in the fifth, but got thrown out at second by left fielder Andrew Benintendi, one of several strong defensive plays that helped Price go the distance.

Hanley Ramirez also caught a foul pop on the top step of Boston's dugout in the second and Mookie Betts ran down a fly ball that was headed to the wall in right.

"The defensive plays that I had today, it makes everything a lot easier," Price said.

Kevin Gausman (3-3) went 4 2/3 innings for Baltimore, allowing six runs and eight hits while striking out six and walking two. He was pulled after Bogaerts drove a high fastball out to left with two men on during Boston's four-run fifth.

"We just got into some sticky situations where we just had to dig ourselves out of a hole and we just couldn't," Susac said.

The Orioles also weren't happy with the strike zone, which Susac said forced Gausman to throw some pitches the Red Sox pounced upon.

Manager Buck Showalter agreed with his catcher.

"I'm very biased, but I didn't think he got a fair shake tonight," Showalter said. "There were a lot of pitches that could have and should have gone his way."