SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles are back on their normal schedule today following yesterday’s golf outing. The only real change comes when they introduce Korean pitcher Suk-min Yoon to the media at noon.
There also could be confirmation on the four-year, $50 million deal with Ubaldo Jimenez, depending on whether he’s taken and passed his physical. That may be ambitious.
The announcement, not passing the physical.
Update: Jimenez is in camp to take his physical. He was signing autographs at the gate this morning.
As it now stands, the Orioles rotation would consist of Jimenez, Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris. Yoon may have to pitch out of the bullpen. As manager Buck Showalter says, we’ll see.
Now that’s depth.
I’m listing Jimenez first because I already wrote his full name higher up in the entry. Just a style thing. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Tillman gets the ball on opening day. However, it’s no longer a slam dunk.
Brian Matusz wants another shot as a starter, but the Orioles just threw up a couple of road blocks. Kevin Gausman figured to begin the season with Norfolk, and it’s now even more likely to happen. Same with Steve Johnson.
What about Zach Britton? He’s out of options. Does this open the door for a trade or make it more likely that he serves as a long reliever/spot starter?
My head’s still spinning from the realization that the Orioles signed a free agent pitcher to a four-year deal. That doesn’t happen in Baltimore. And they gave up the 17th overall pick in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft.
I don’t even know who they are anymore.
Feeling any better about the offseason? Should the grade be changed? Let me know.
As long as the Orioles gave up their first-round and competitive balance picks, they may as well toss out the second-rounder and sign Kendrys Morales. Yes, I said it out loud. And manager Buck Showalter clearly prefers a full-time designated hitter if there’s a good one out there.
With Yoon and Jimenez reaching agreements, I suppose the failed Grant Balfour physical didn’t scare off everyone. In the end, it comes down to money and a willingness to pitch in the American League East. Those are the primary factors in getting a deal done.
Jimenez is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles and 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four starts against the Rays. However, he’s 1-2 with an 11.72 ERA in four starts against the Red Sox, 1-3 with a 6.45 ERA in four starts against the Yankees and 2-1 with a 4.61 ERA in five starts against the Blue Jays.
Jimenez is widely believed to have more upside than Ervin Santana, another free agent pitcher who interested the Orioles. I wrote a few weeks ago that they were still in play for Jimenez, Yoon and Bronson Arroyo, according to industry sources. They had given up on Burnett, and they clearly preferred Jimenez over Santana.
This deal didn’t come together overnight. They’ve been working on Jimenez for a while. Massive progress was made yesterday by adding a fourth year.
The Orioles maintained interest in Santana and would have been more aggressive if they lost out on Jimenez.
You’ll like how Jimenez keeps the ball on the ground and in the ballpark. The walks will be maddening - he averages four per nine innings - unless he can figure out a way to stop being so generous.
Jimenez was 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in six September starts as the Indians were pushing to make the playoffs. The Orioles most certainly took notice.
They will have to make room for another pitcher on their 40-man roster, just as they did yesterday for Yoon. I won’t speculate, but they’ve got a few expendable parts on it.
Britton threw another bullpen session yesterday separate from the other groups. He continues to work on the mound with the strings running across home plate to improve his command, as I wrote about here.
The club prefers to conduct these sessions in private, without the media scrutiny.
Britton is counted among the Orioles in camp who are out of minor league options. Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar can’t be sent down without being offered back to the Red Sox and clearing waivers.
Here’s the list of guys currently on the camp roster who are out of options, if you care:
Kelvin De La Cruz
Ivan DeJesus Jr.
Players signed to minor league deals can be reassigned to the minors, of course. But if their contracts are purchased and they’re added to the 40-man roster, they would have to clear waivers and be outrighted before being sent down.
Steve Clevenger has caught Tillman and Britton over the past few days.
On Tillman, Clevenger said, “He looked really good, really sharp. He’s locating really well already. He didn’t throw any breaking balls, just fastball/changeup. Had great command all day (Sunday) with everything.”
On Britton, Clevenger said, “He made some strides the other day when I caught him. Just coming in and getting the work load in and finding the strike zone.”