Orioles announce LeBlanc signing

The Orioles’ minor league deal with left-hander Wade LeBlanc has moved into its next phase of progression.

It’s been announced by the club.

Official word came earlier today, including how LeBlanc receives an invitation to major league camp.

LeBlanc-Mariners-Blue-sidebar.jpgNews broke last week that the two sides had reached agreement. LeBlanc was expected to take his physical in Sarasota, Fla.

Today’s news is an indication that LeBlanc signed a contract. The deal wasn’t done last week.

The competition for rotation spots intensifies with the inclusion of LeBlanc, 35, who spent the past two seasons with the Mariners. He went 9-5 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.179 WHIP in 32 games, including 27 starts, in 2018 and made only eight starts among his 26 appearances last summer, registering a 5.71 ERA and 1.451 WHIP.

Much of LeBlanc’s workload consisted of being a bulk guy behind the opener. The Orioles would prefer that he lock down a starting job and he’s been described within the organization as having “the inside track.”

LeBlanc’s contract pays $800,000 if he’s on the club, compared to the $2.5 million he made last summer. It includes a March opt-out clause.

The Mariners declined the $5 million option on LeBlanc’s contract, making him a free agent.

The former second-round pick out of the University of Alabama debuted with the Padres in 2008 and the Orioles are his eighth team in the United States. He’s gone 45-47 with a 4.46 ERA and 1.340 WHIP in 234 games and reached his career high in innings with 162 in 2018.

LeBlanc also signed with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball prior to the 2015 season.

The upper tier of the Orioles rotation consists of John Means and veteran Alex Cobb. Asher Wojciechowski is a favorite to be included, with a host of candidates vying to fill out the back end.

David Hess, Kohl Stewart, Rule 5 pick Brandon Bailey, Brady Rodgers and Keegan Akin are in the mix and executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias wants to sign another veteran. The Orioles are willing to hand out a major league deal.

Rule 5 pick Michael Rucker transitioned to a relief role last season in the Cubs system, but his starter’s experience keeps him in the discussion.

The camp invite list grows to 24 and has room for a few more minor league agreements.

Pitchers and catchers report next Monday.

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