SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles remain confident that they will sign pitcher Yovani Gallardo and also are optimistic about their chances of including outfielder Dexter Fowler in their winter haul, according to a source.
The club is fine with surrendering its first two draft picks, which would be slotted at Nos. 14 and 28, in order to plug holes in the rotation and right field. It’s just a matter of getting the deals done as pitchers and catchers report on Thursday to the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
The holdup in both cases revolves around guaranteed money, according to a source. The cost apparently has risen as more free agents come off the board, and that’s especially true with Gallardo, the most appealing option available as spring approaches.
Gallardo’s camp “moved away” from the amount that earlier was deemed sufficient to get his signature on a contract, the source said, but the lines of communication remain open and neither side is discouraged.
Despite the delay in reaching agreements, negotiations are ongoing and chances remain good that the camp roster eventually will include both free agents. Everything can change with one phone call, of course, but the tone remains optimistic for now.
Though it may not be unanimous inside the warehouse, a source added that the Orioles would be willing to give up the 14th pick for Fowler if talks with Gallardo fall apart. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a package deal.
Fowler possesses tools that the Orioles covet, including plus defense, speed, and the ability to get on base and steal them. They were comfortable offering a similar deal to the one Howie Kendrick received from the Dodgers - two years and around $20 million.
The Orioles also have spoken to the Reds about Jay Bruce, another potential fit in right field. However, there are concerns about his drop in production since 2013, when he batted .262/.329/.478/ with 43 doubles, 30 home runs and 109 RBIs in 160 games.
Bruce has put up slash lines of .217/.281/.373 and .226/.294/.434 over the past two seasons. His home runs increased from 18 to 26 as he appeared in 20 more games, but the average is an issue for some officials.
Also, Bruce has a career .319 on-base percentage, compared to Fowler’s .363, and the Orioles vowed to improve in that department. They’re not hurting for power in their lineup.
Fowler’s ability to bat atop the order also gives him the edge over Bruce.
Anyway, there’s your update as morning turns to afternoon. The sun is shining, the temperature in Sarasota has pushed into the 70s - though it feels warmer - players worked out while the media waited until Thursday to report and the Orioles continue efforts to hold two press conferences at Ed Smith Stadium.