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Steve Johnson signs with Texas, thanks Orioles fans

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Steve Johnson signs with Texas, thanks Orioles fans

Twice in two days, now former Orioles named Steve took to Twitter to say good-bye and thank you.

On Thursday night, it was Steve Pearce, who signed with the Tampa Bay Rays, and 24 hours later, Steve Johnson tweeted his message of gratitude after signing a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers.

Johnson’s signing, which was first reported by MASNsports.com, includes an invitation to spring training.

“Thank you Baltimore! I want to thank the Orioles organization for the last 7 years. I had the opportunity to play for awesome coaches, teammates and eventually my hometown fans. Being part of the team to bring playoff baseball back to Baltimore in my debut year is something that will always be special to me. I’ll never forget it! Baltimore will always be home but I’m excited for a fresh start with the Texas Rangers,” he wrote.

Within two months, two native Baltimoreans, Johnson and yet another Steve, Clevenger, leave their hometown teams. Clevenger was sent to Seattle for Mark Trumbo and C.J. Riefenhauser.

Like Clevenger, Johnson was not originally drafted by the Orioles. The son of the popular former Orioles pitcher and now broadcaster, Dave Johnson came home in July 2009 when he arrived from Los Angeles in the George Sherrill trade.

Johnson was part of the magical 2012 run, going 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games. He started four games and won three of them.

Hampered by injuries and ineffectiveness, Johnson hasn’t had success in the big leagues since. He was 1-1 with a 7.47 ERA in nine games in 2013 and last year had a 10.13 ERA in six games.

Johnson’s time in the Orioles organization nearly ended shortly after it began. He was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, and in Dec. 2009, the Giants selected him, but he didn’t make what turned out to be a World Series winning team, and was returned to Baltimore in March 2010.

It’s best for Steve that he gets an opportunity to pitch somewhere else, and here’s a hope that he’ll prosper with Texas.

RELATED: Here are five important spring dates for Orioles

Meanwhile, Yovani Gallardo, who pitched for the Rangers last year, remains unsigned. It’s becoming increasingly clear that if the Orioles want Gallardo badly enough, they can sign him.

He’s one of three remaining free agents whose signing would require the Orioles to forfeit their first round draft pick: Ian Desmond and Dexter Fowler are the others.

On Friday, Howie Kendrick re-signed with the Dodgers for two years.

Doug Fister, who the Orioles had shown interest in, signed a one-year, $7 million contract, with the Houston Astros on Thursday.

The Astros had shown interest in Gallardo, too. So had Colorado, but those reports were considered overblown.

Losing the 14th pick, which could turn out to be the 13th if Desmond signs with Tampa Bay, is quite a deterrent.

The last time the Orioles lost their first round pick was in 2014 when they signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz. That meant their first pick can in the third round, and the pick, Brian Gonzalez had an awful year in Delmarva in 2015, going 4-9 with a 5.17 ERA.

Gonzalez, who was invited to minicamp in 2015, didn’t get another invitation for this year’s.

The Orioles’ fourth round pick, Pat Connaughton is seating on the bench for the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers.

So far, only two players from that draft have distinguished themselves, David Hess and Tanner Scott, who were selected in the rounds following Connaughton.

The Orioles need another starter, but they also need badly to replace some of the prospects who were sent away last year when they tried to fill another hole, right field.

A fifth starter is important, but if Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman don’t all pitch well, that fifth starter won’t matter very much.

It’s obvious that in the coming Collective Bargain Agreement talks that the qualifying offer rules will be a contentious topic. This year, a record 20 players received qualifying offers, and for the first time, three players took them including Matt Wieters.

So far, eight of the 17 who signed have returned to their previous team, and it wouldn’t be crazy to see Fowler (Cubs) and Gallardo (Rangers) re-sign. Desmond is not coming back to the Nationals.

MORE ORIOLES: New Ray Pearce thanks Orioles fans

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

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American League All-Star Game Roster Projection: AL will be loaded once again

The 2018 Major League All-Star Game is less than a month away. Fan votes are well underway and early frontrunners are close to locking their position in the Midsummer Classic.

Yesterday, we projected how the National League roster will play out. Today it is time to look at the American League roster projection.

For five straight seasons, the AL has had the upper hand in the MLB All-Star Game. In 2018, it does not appear that will change as the American League roster will be loaded from top to bottom.

As a reminder, here is how the process shakes out, first with the fan vote, players’ ballots, and the MLB Commissioner’s Office:

  • Fan vote: nine position players in AL (DH)/ eight in NL; plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 17 players in AL/ 16 players in NL; (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: five AL players (four pitchers, one position player) and seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players)

One player from each team must make the initial roster (before injury withdraws, etc.). Below is how it looks the American League roster will play out, considering the latest fan vote returns:

American League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Wilson Ramos, Rays (Fan Vote), Gary Sánchez, Yankees (Player Ballot)
1B – José Abreu, White Sox (Fan Vote), Joey Gallo, Rangers (Player Ballot)
2B – Jose Altuve, Astros (Fan Vote), Jed Lowrie, Athletics (Player Ballot)
3B – José Ramírez, Indians (Fan Vote), Yangervis Solarte, Blue Jays (Player Ballot), Mike Moustakas, Royals (Commissioner’s Office)
SS – Manny Machado, Orioles (Fan Vote), Jean Segura, Mariners (Player Ballot),
OF – Mookie Betts, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Mike Trout, Angels (Fan Vote), Aaron Judge, Yankees (Fan Vote), Michael Brantley, Indians (Player Ballot), Eddie Rosario, Twins (Player Ballot), Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees (Player Ballot),
DH – J.D. Martinez, Red Sox (Fan Vote), Shohei Ohtani, Angels (Player Ballot)

SP – Justin Verlander, Astros (Player Ballot), Luis Severino, Yankees (Player Ballot), Corey Kluber, Indians (Player Ballot), Chris Sale, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Gerrit Cole, Astros (Player Ballot), Blake Snell, Tampa Bay (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Edwin Díaz, Mariners (Player Ballot), Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox (Player Ballot), Aroldis Chapman, Yankees (Player Ballot), Joe Jiménez, Tigers (Commissioner’s Office), Delin Betances, Yankees (Commissioner’s Office), Chris Devenski, Astros (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Jeff Luhnow, Astros

Based on this projection, the New York Yankees will have the most representatives with six. The Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox will both have four.

Ensuring no snubs, there will be five players selected for the final fan vote to get one more All-Star into the game for a total of 32 for the American League. As you can see, no matter how the AL roster plays out, it will be a dominant team once again as they look for six straight All-Star wins.

Four of those five wins were inside a National League stadium and that will not change as the Washington Nationals will host this season.

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

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2018 MLB All-Star Game voting update: Manny Machado maintains big lead among A.L. shortstops

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado took an even larger lead in the latest update for 2018 MLB All-Star Game voting.

The superstar shortstop maintained his position at the top of American League shortstops in the second round of All-Star voting updates, released Tuesday morning. 

After the first ballot was released, Machado led the shortstops category by over 100,00 votes.

This week, he now holds north of a 200,000-vote lead over last year’s American League starter, Carlos Correa.

The Astros’ Correa jumped from fourth to second this past week while the Indians’ Francisco Lindor dropped to third.  

Machado now has 671,133 votes, seventh among all American League players. For the second straight week, Machado remained the only Orioles player on the list.

Through 69 games in 2018, Machado is batting .310 with 18 home runs, 15 doubles and 53 RBIs. He is posting his best OPS (.945) and on-base percentage (.377) in his career, a bright spot for the O’s, who sit dead last in MLB with a 20-50 record.

The All-Star voting will be open until July 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET and fans can vote five times every 24 hours.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 26.

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