Late on Wednesday night, the Orioles avoided arbitration with Nolan Reimold, signing him to a one-year, $1.3 million contract.
That wasn’t necessarily a popular move with some fans, who have made the gentle Reimold into a polarizing figure in Baltimore.
Last year, Reimold completed a relatively healthy season, playing in a combined 115 games in Norfolk and with the Orioles, his most since 2011.
The Orioles don’t view him as a regular, but he had a .344 on-base percentage in 61 games, trailing only Chris Davis and Manny Machado.
Reimold has a good batting eye and while he’s not the power threat he was before his neck injuries, he still hit six homers. He’s a usefuL player.
The Orioles desperately need left-handed hitting, and if Chris Davis signs elsewhere, the need grows more desperate.
As a result, it’s likely that we’ve seen the last of Steve Pearce, at least for now.
Pearce does some things that Reimold doesn’t. He can fill in at first base, and hit 21 home runs in 2014, but there are some similarities.
Both have had injury-marred careers, both have worked diligently to return, and both play left field. And, they hit right-handed. They’re also the same age, 32.
Because Pearce had the breakout year in 2014 when he hit .293 and had an outstanding .373 OBP, he was hoping to cash in as a free agent this year.
But, Pearce felll back to a .218 average in 92 games. After making $3.7 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, Pearce wanted his first multi-year contract. He may not get it.
Not only do the Orioles have Reimold as a right-handed hitting option in the outfield, they also have the recently re-acquired L.J. Hoes and Dariel Alvarez to serve as backups, too. Pearce would make four.
If Pearce doesn’t find a taker, and there’s been no chatter about him so far, then it’s not beyond the realm of conception that he’s a late signee. Pearce is very popular with his teammates and with manager Buck Showalter.
He’s just not worth that much more than Reimold.
The Darren O’Day sweepstakes may soon be coming to an end, and the question is whether I’ll continue to have the pleasure of covering him—or will my friend and colleague Mark Zuckerman have the fun instead?
O’Day’s final choices are between the Orioles and Nationals, and if he somehow chooses to remain in Baltimore, it will be a powerful statement on the influence of Showalter.
Showalter and new Nationals manager Dusty Baker are two of the most popular managers among players. O’Day is eternally grateful for Showalter’s guidance.
Under Buck, O’Day has become one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, and while the sense is that he’d really like to stay with the Orioles, the Nationals may be offering enough to make a substantial difference.
When Mariano Rivera announced his retirement, his longtime manager, Joe Torre, said: “He basically made my career.”
I think it’s fair to say that Showalter, and he wouldn’t ever say it, has basically made O’Day’s career.
Prior to coming to Baltimore, O’Day was a solid, if underappreciated sidearmer with Texas.
Thanks to Showalter’s loving care, O’Day has posted an astounding 23-8 record with a 1.92 ERA in four seasons with a WHIP of .0939. He’s played on two postseason clubs, and become a clubhouse leader, a rarity for a reliever.
O’Day’s decision may be followed by one from Wei-Yin Chen on his next destination.
With David Price and Zack Greinke expectedly receiving eye-popping contracts, Chen, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Jeff Samardzija and some others will cash in from clubs such as the Dodgers, Giants and Cardinals, who lost out on Price and Greinke.
Jordan Zimmermann, who is in that class, signed last weekend with Detroit.
As for Davis, it’s been pretty quiet, and his agent, Scott Boras, may hold him out for an extended time to try and extract the best deal. Davis, Yoenis Cespedes, Heyward and Justin Upton are probably the premier position players, and other than a few catchers signing, it appears that that market hasn’t gathered steam, yet.
It will as the Winter Meetings get underway on Sunday in Nashville.
The Orioles will be linked with dozens of players, and some of the reports may actually be true.
One signing that escaped notice around here was Jim Johnson’s return to Atlanta. Johnson, who the Orioles traded two years ago because they didn’t want to pay him $10 million, has been with four teams since then.
The Braves are the only one Johnson has had some success with, and after a disastrous few months with the Dodgers, he signed a one-year contract for $2.5 million.
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