SARASOTA, Fla. – On a most unique day in modern Orioles history, Yovani Gallardo was sadly reduced to an afterthought. Gallardo’s original three-year, $35 million deal was reduced by a year, and the team was preparing to celebrate the adding of a starter to cement the rotation.
About an hour before the press conference to formally introduce Gallardo, who had taken the field Thursday morning for workouts, word came out that Dexter Fowler, who was thought to be heading to the Orioles, had re-signed with the Chicago Cubs instead.
The drama around Gallardo’s restructuring was muted, and Fowler was the story.
But, in the end, the Orioles have five starters, and Gallardo is one of them.
“It was a little bit different, to be honest, but I’m just glad we were able to get something done. It’s part of the process, to be honest. I think it’s part of the situation, becoming a free agent, but everything for me, I’m past that,” Gallardo said.
Gallardo will join Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman in the rotation.
In 2016, Gallardo gets $9 million with $2.25 million deferred and $11 million next year with $1 million deferred. He has a $13 million options for 2018.
The Orioles were linked with Gallardo early in the free agency process.
“We had a little bit of contact since Day 1. That was pretty much it. As the offseason went on, it got a little more serious. I want to pitch for a team that wants me. They’ve had interest in me since Day 1, and we were able to work something out,” Gallardo said.
Gallardo is 102-75 with a 3.42 ERA in his career. He has thrown at least 180 innings and started at least 30 times for the last seven seasons.
Last year was the first time Gallardo worked in the American League and has pitched only once in Baltimore, pitching six shutout innings, allowing just two hits.
“It’s a tough place to pitch,” Gallardo said. “You know what? I’m up for the challenge. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m going to go out there and compete.”
One thing Gallardo won’t be doing with the Orioles is hitting—at least not much of it. He’s the active leader in home runs hit by a pitcher, 12.
“I’ve always liked hitting and you know, that’s the good thing about interleague. … We’ll see. I mean if I get the opportunity to go out there and swing the bat, I’ll have fun with it. I’ve enjoyed it and I did it in Milwaukee quite a bit. It’s one of those things. Being in the National League, you have to take it serious because you’re swinging every five days, but my No. 1 job and objective is to go out there and pitch. That’s the first priority and everything [is secondary] after that,” Gallardo said.
Manager Buck Showalter isn’t sure where he’ll use Gallardo. He worked out with the team today, but didn’t throw in the bullpen. He won’t throw on Friday, either. Showalter isn’t sure if he’ll use the right-hander in either of this weekend’s intrasquad games.
“Yovani will be the first to tell you he’s going to try to do his part and be somebody we are going to trust and depend on, nothing more, nothing less. We feel good about that time of commitment for someone like him,” Showalter said.
While Duquette waited to be grilled about Fowler, he did have the opportunity to extoll Gallardo’s virtues.
“I think Yovani helps us because he’s shown us he’s a very dependable starter. He’s up to the challenge of going against the best pitchers, and he’s done that in the course of his career. I think when you have dependable starting pitchers, and you have the experience that Yovani has, the other pitchers, the younger pitchers, they have a good role model. They can watch him do his job, but I think they can set in comfortably and do their job.”
NOTE: Gallardo will wear No. 49. Dylan Bundy switches from 49 to 37 and pitching coach Dave Wallace moves from 37 to 16.