As the baseball industry long suspected, the free agent floodgates burst open once Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka finally chose a team.
Yes, Ty Wigginson and Endy Chavez signed minor league deals.
Taking a closer look, I also see that Matt Garza’s four-year, $50 million deal with the Brewers finally became official after a suspicious delay in the announcement that had me wondering whether he failed his physical. Then I thought, that rarely happens anymore.
Grant Balfour signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Rays. No issues with that physical.
The Rays figure he can shoulder the load (still too soon?)
With FanFest being held on Saturday, I’ve been asked whether the Orioles could make a big announcement this week. And to that I say ... maybe.
Remember when news broke at the event that the Orioles were bringing back Miguel Tejada? Don’t get your hopes up for a threepeat.
The days in January are running out and the list of unsigned free agents includes Kendrys Morales, Nelson Cruz, Stephen Drew, Michael Young, Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Fernando Rodney.
Some sections of the national media keep connecting the Orioles to Cruz. It happened about five seconds after the final out of the World Series and it continued at the Winter Meetings. The Orioles never made him an offer and don’t seem willing to part with their first-round pick for him.
They don’t seem interested in Morales, who also would cost a first-round pick. That one had legs for a while, but didn’t go far.
Forget Drew. He’s never been linked to the Orioles, who are set at shortstop this season. Definitely not giving up a first-round pick for him.
Young always seems to intrigue them, but never enough to sign him or trade for him. They probably figure that they have enough right-handed designated hitter candidates.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette is focused on signing a starter - we’re up to 1,002 reminders, if you’re scoring at home - and Arroyo still makes the most sense for the Orioles, given their reluctance to part with that pick and their paralyzing fear of contracts for pitchers that extend beyond three years. The prices on Santana and Jimenez would have to drop significantly.
Burnett would be their first choice if he wanted to pitch in 2014. Does anyone know?
Rodney could fall into their laps. How many teams are in the market for a closer?
I’m not sure how to rank the nine names mentioned above without knowing whether Burnett is retiring. If I’m forced to make a prediction, I’ll stick with Arroyo.
Does it happen? And if so, does it happen before FanFest?
Meanwhile, Wei-Yin Chen’s interpreter, Tim Lin, won’t be returning this season. He tweeted the following last night:
“Bye Bye Charm City! My pleasure to be around!!!! THANK YOU <3”
Lin says it’s time to move on, and he’s going to be missed in the clubhouse. It was always a pleasure seeing him, and he did a fantastic job. The beat crew is grateful for his work.