The free agent market is open for business

The end of the World Series opened the gates yesterday to free agency and Orioles outfielder Adam Jones is included among the 145 players initially on the market.

Outfielder Colby Rasmus also is listed with the Orioles, but it’s a technicality. Rasmus left the team on July 3 and was placed on the restricted list, removing him from the 40-man roster.

Rasmus made the same move the previous year while playing for the Rays and it’s doubtful that he’ll take another crack at landing a major league job. Or that a team would bite.

The list of Braves on the market include former Orioles Nick Markakis, Brad Brach and Ryan Flaherty. The Red Sox’s Steve Pearce may have increased his value over the last week.

Manny Machado and Zach Britton will get paid, though the former might haul in more money. Just a hunch.

Other free agents with Orioles ties include Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds, Jeremy Hellickson, Andrew Miller, Jim Johnson, Wade Miley, Bud Norris, Nelson Cruz, Miguel González, Yovani Gallardo, Nick Hundley and Edwin Jackson.

The deadline to extend a qualifying offer to pending free agents is 5 p.m. Friday and players have until Nov. 12 to accept or reject it.

Jones-Doubles-v-TEX-sidebar.jpgMuch like the Gold Glove announcements and awards shows, the Orioles can sit this one out. Jones is their only free agent and won’t be getting a qualifying offer, which reportedly has risen to $17.9 million.

Players are eligible for the qualifying offer if they haven’t received a previous one and spent the entire season with the same team. In other words, the Dodgers can’t extend one to Machado because he was acquired in a midseason trade. The Nationals can’t extend one to Wieters because the Orioles already did it.

(And he might accept it again.)

Check Pearce’s photo on his baseball-reference.com page and you’ll find him wearing a Blue Jays cap.

It could have been any team, really.

Pearce is well-traveled, to put it mildly, but he’s also the 2018 World Series Most Valuable Player. An unlikely one, especially with the Red Sox absolutely loaded, but he earned it with three home runs and a three-run double.

“You never know where the game will take you,” Pearce said.

Probably the American League East. He’s played for every team.

The Orioles carried Pearce on their roster four times from 2012-2015. Former executive Ned Rice found a loophole that enabled the club to re-sign him two days after his release on April 27, 2014 and he batted .293/.373/.556 with 26 doubles and 21 home runs in 102 games.

After going 3-for-10 against the Tigers in the American League Division Series, Pearce collected only one hit in 18 plate appearances in the ALCS while the Royals swept the Orioles.

Pearce’s final tour with the Orioles came after the Rays traded him on Aug. 1, 2016 for minor league catcher Jonah Heim, a defensive specialist and one of the organization’s top prospects at the position. Pearce went 13-for-60 (.217) in 25 games.

Heim, a fourth-round pick in 2013, still hasn’t reached the majors. He’s currently in the Athletics system and climbed to Double-A this summer.

Former manager Buck Showalter often used Pearce as an example when pointing out how players must be given an opportunity before passing judgment on them. Such as, “How did we know Steve Pearce could play second base?”

By giving him 13 starts in 2015.

Injuries have hounded Pearce in his career, forcing him to make frequent trips to the disabled list. He returned in 2016 with an elbow/forearm issue that kept him from playing the outfield and eventually put him on the 60-day DL.

A wrist injury in 2013 was blamed on the extra hitting he’d do in the cage. The Orioles threatened to lock him out of it and force him to rest. He went on the DL in 2015 with a strained oblique and a similar injury sidelined him again this year before the Blue Jays traded him to the Red Sox. He had a strained calf muscle in 2017.

Steve Pearce can’t be stopped. He can only be contained at times.

I’ll echo what’s been heard from the Baltimore media. Pearce was a pleasure to cover, respected for his work ethic and status as a really good teammate. An underrated personality - quiet from a distance, but thoughtful and humorous once you got closer to him.

Orioles fans will find it hard to celebrate another Red Sox championship, but they can celebrate Pearce. He deserves it.

The online betting side Bovada lists the Orioles at 350/1 to win the 2019 World Series, the longest odds on the board. The Tigers, Royals and Marlins are 250/1.

The Red Sox are the early favorites at 13/2 and the Astros are 7/1.

The site also lists the Phillies as 3/2 favorites to sign Machado. The Dodgers are 9/4, Yankees 3/1, Marlins 8/1, Angels 9/1 and Braves and Nationals 14/1.

Besides the Gold Glove finalists, the Orioles also were shut out in the Fielding Bible Awards and no one made the roster for the 2018 Japan All-Star Series with Nippon Professional Baseball that features seven games (including one exhibition) from Nov. 8-15.

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