Quick Links

Will Orioles be aggressive in early free agency?


Will Orioles be aggressive in early free agency?

Twenty players were given $15.8 million qualifying offers by Friday afternoon, the most in the four-year history of the system. Three of them were Orioles, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters.

There weren’t many surprises among the 17 others, but would the Orioles consider losing their first round draft choice to sign one, or perhaps two of them?

A few of the names on the list are intriguing. There are some starting pitchers who conceivably could fit into the Orioles’ price range: Brett Anderson, Marco Estrada, Yovani Gallardo, Ian Kennedy, John Lackey, Jeff Samardzija and Jordan Zimmermann.

Daniel Murphy, star of the first two rounds of the postseason is on the list, and so is Justin Upton, who had been linked with the team at the trade deadline.

The Cubs' Dexter Fowler and Kansas City’s Alex Gordon are on the list, too.

While Zack Greinke and Hisashi Iwakuma were given qualifying offers, they are not likely to be Orioles targets. Greinke would prefer to stay in the National League where he can hit, and Iwakuma is seen as re-signing with Seattle.

Others on the list: Ian Desmond, Justin Heyward and Howie Kendrick either play positions where the Orioles don’t have a great need, or in Heyward’s case, will likely be too expensive.

The other name on the list is Colby Rasmus, who turned down the Orioles’ one-year contract offer a year ago, and will probably not get another one.

Some of the more intriguing names on the free agent market are Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist. Both were traded to the Kansas City Royals in July and not eligible for a qualifying offer.

It will be interesting to see how aggressive Dan Duquette is in the early weeks of free agency. In the past, he was never a serious early pursuer. His biggest conquests, Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez, didn’t come until spring training 2014.

That year, several names on the qualifying offer list went unsigned for months. Last year, that wasn’t the case, but this year there are so many more that there may be a few names still unsigned come late January.

Late signings don’t faze Scott Boras, who represents Chen, Davis and Wieters. It will be interesting to see if Boras, as he has in the past, holds his clients back from signing in the early part of free agency.

While the Orioles are eager to re-sign Davis and will make a competitive offer, would they wait until January if Boras continues to survey the market?

They’ll have to make a decision on 2016’s first baseman, and they may not want to wait until mid or late January since there isn’t a logical successor to Davis on hand.

The most interesting thing about the players on the qualifying list is that many aren’t necessarily seen as top tier free agents. While some fans may want the Orioles to take a run at David Price, who doesn’t have a qualifying offer attached to him, he’s likely out of their price range.

But absent Greinke, Heyward and Upton, it doesn’t seem that many here are out of their market.

It will be interesting to see if they make more than a token offer to Wieters, who will likely reject the offer and move on. He’s been linked in print to the Nationals, but multiple people with knowledge of the team’s workings say that they don’t see a fit there.

Friday morning, Peter Gammons tweeted that the Braves, who were widely seen as Wieters’ landing spot, were not going to pursue him.

The Chicago White Sox, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have been mentioned as possible homes for Wieters.

There weren’t any relief pitchers on the list, but Darren O’Day figures to be a prized commodity. He’s in a great spot, probably the best relief pitcher on the market, and coming off four stellar years with the Orioles.

O’Day, who just turned 33, could sign with the Dodgers. While there has been talk he could sign with the Nationals, they’ve been reluctnat to sign a reliever for three or four years, which is what O’Day might be able to get elsewhere. And for now at least, the Nationals say they intend to keep both Jonathan Papelbon and Drew Storen.

Washington is a possible destination for the only Orioles free agent who wasn’t eligible for a qualifying offer, Gerardo Parra. The Nationals tried to get him at the trading deadline, but the Orioles beat them to it.

While we await the countless rumors and rumors of linkings for Chen, Davis, O’Day, Parra and Wieters, there is some good news.

Other than Brian Matusz, who may be traded this offseason, there are no Orioles currently eligible for free agency next year.

MORE ORIOLES: Orioles make qualifying offers to Chen, Davis, Wieters

Quick Links

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

AP Images

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. 


Quick Links

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."