We learned a few days ago that right-hander Kyle Gibson would not be back with the Orioles for the 2024 season. He signed a one-year free agent deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for $12 million and the team holds a club option for the 2025 season.
For Gibson, this represents a homecoming of sorts. He lives near St. Louis and went to college at the University of Missouri. Reports said the Cardinals had been trying to add him for years. They’ve got him now but today we should take a moment to appreciate his numerous contributions to the Orioles last season.
He went 15-9 with a 4.73 ERA over 33 starts and the Orioles went 20-13 in those 33 games. Gibson tied for third in the AL in wins, trailing only Chris Bassitt and Zack Eflin, who had 16 each. He was one of eight pitchers in the majors with 15 or more wins and the first Oriole to do that since Chris Tillman won 16 in 2016.
The Orioles signed Gibson to a one-year deal for $10 million last Dec. 5 and he went on to tie for third in the league in wins, finish sixth in the AL throwing 192 innings, he tied for first in starts and tied for 10th in the AL with 17 quality starts.
Gibson became the first O’s pitcher in club history to start and win each of his three first appearances with the team. And he started a season 4-0 for the second time in his career, joining a 6-0 start with Texas in 2021. He became the fifth Oriole starting pitcher since 2004 to begin a year 4-0, joining John Means (4-0 in 2021), Bud Norris (4-0 in 2013), Wei-Yin Chen (4-0 in 2012), and Erik Bedard (4-0 in 2006).
Gibson recorded his 100th career win on Aug. 5 versus the Mets and the 100th strikeout of the season in the second inning on July 25 at Philly. He became one of four MLB pitchers to record 100+ strikeouts in nine of the last 10 seasons, along with Jacob deGrom, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. He reached 10 years of Major League service time on Aug. 9.
Gibson, who allowed two runs or less 13 times, went 5-2 with a 2.89 ERA in his starts within the AL East.
Gibson talked about his St. Louis homecoming after signing with the Cardinals.
“It’s only 40 minutes, door to door, to Busch Stadium,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “That was a big part of it - being able to be home, help the kids get to school, be there for bedtime sometimes. Baseball practice is on the weekend in the morning. All the different things I’ve been missing out a lot on. Gives me a chance to do that.”
Gibson will no doubt become a fixture in the community there as he did here and in other places he has played. His charitable efforts are vast and he was the Orioles' 2023 nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. It’s the third time he got nominated by a club.
The guy was just a nice addition for the Orioles and proved to be a great teammate and clubhouse presence. That part of his game I didn’t know that much about or truly realize until seeing in person the impact he had on other pitchers.
A comment he made to me about his youthful O's teammates in spring training last March proved prophetic.
“You know what for having such a young team it just seems like a lot of guys understand the process of getting their work done and the process of being focused during the workouts and getting your reps,” he told me at Ed Smith Stadium. “Sometimes you have to do more work as a young team because of simple mistakes or mental mistakes that are made a lot. This team doesn’t do that. It’s quick work and in and out because we are getting the job done and are doing it right.
“I just think the young guys have such good heads on their shoulders it has a really good chance of helping them reach their ceiling and reach their potential a lot faster.”
Gibson saw big potential for the team when it all began under the Florida sun.
He'll be missed by the media too. He was very available to us and almost always provided real insights with thoughtful answers.
As it pertains to the leadership void he leaves behind, perhaps that will now be filled by what we might call the younger veteran group of the likes of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Ryan Mountcastle and John Means.