Reliever Mike Gonzalez said the Orioles were “definitely on his radar” when the free-agent market opened for business.
“Just seeing the talent alone that these guys had,” he said. “Sometimes, they get a little overshadowed just because of the other teams - the Yankees and the Red Sox - but this is a good ballclub. And these guys are only going to get better.
“I’d like to thank Andy (MacPhail) and my agent Scott (Boras) for making this very quick and easy and painless. Those were kind of deciding factors for me.”
Asked if he’s comfortable referring to Gonzalez as the closer, MacPhail replied: “That’s something that Scott and I talked about, and the way we structured the deal was that we understood that is a possibility, probably a likelihood, but it’s not something that is guaranteed to him. There’s going to be a competition.
“The way it was explained to me through Scott, and since having the opportunity to get to know Mike a little bit, is that competing for the role doesn’t bother them in the slightest.”
Said Gonzalez: “I’ve been competing since I was 5 years old. That’s nothing new to me. I’ve never felt like I’ve been handed anything, so I just go out there and do me and I’ll be fine.”
Gonzalez wants the chance to close. That’s no secret. And he knew the Orioles had a vacancy.
“But more than anything, I felt this was a team that was looking to improve. And it looks like a team that, you’re going to see some stars,” he said. “You haven’t seen them yet. You’ve seen flashes what these young guys have done. But when these guys can put it together, you’re talking about a team that can do what Tampa did a couple years ago. I think they’re that good. They’ve just been overshadowed by the Yankees and Red Sox, which is understood. But I definitely feel this is a great ballclub and I just want to be part of it. And I feel like we’re putting the pieces together and it’s going to be a very competitive team.”