The Orioles have a long way to go, but they are actually doing a fairly good job of building their team (I don’t call it “rebuilding” because that would imply that there was anything there in the first place). They have some good young position players. There are some young arms on the rise. There is reason to hope in Baltimore.
So why, then, does GM
Lee Andy MacPhail [hey — Lee’s still alive, but at age 92, I don’t think he’s the one I meant] come out and talk about the noise they could maybe possibly make on the free agent market? In the article he talks about the Orioles’ payroll flexibility. Which is fine, because it’s technically true. But then he goes on and on about how they offered Mark Teixeira $140 million last year, implying that they could make big splashes like that in the future and don’t count the O’s out and all of that kind of stuff. Which is either (a) dumb; or (b) disingenuous.
It’s dumb if MacPhail really thinks that the Orioles should be out playing in big-money free agent land. There aren’t any impact free agents out there this year, and certainly not any that will be around long enough to be strong contributors for an Orioles team that likely won’t contend for a while. Matt Holliday and John Lackey and guys who will eat up big money over multiple years and be on the downside of their careers by the time Matt Weiters is leading the Orioles to winning seasons are not what the Orioles need right now.
But MacPhail is a pretty smart guy, and I think he knows that. Which is why I think this is mostly disingenuousness at work. The Orioles aren’t going to play that market, nor should they. They were burned on bad free agent signings for a decade. There was almost zero chance that Mark Teixeira was going to sign with Baltimore for $140 million last year. MacPhail knows this, and smart, hardcore Orioles fans know this as well. In suggesting otherwise, MacPhail is likely trying to play to the casual fans, hoping to drum up ticket sales and excitement during a long cold winter.
The Peter Angelos era has been characterized by the Orioles messing with what once was a solid fanbase. Years of trying to put together Frankenteams of veteran castoffs and milking Ripken’s legacy and a nice park rather than building a strong foundation for the future like the Orioles teams of yore used to do. Now that they’re finally doing that, the Orioles should be straight with their fans. They should tell them “Hey, we’re not there yet, but we’re getting there. We have a lot of exciting young players. There’s no one out in free agent land that’s truly going to help us, so don’t hold your breath for a signing.”
Such a gesture may not seem like much — and talking up the free agent market may not seem all that harmful — but there has been a lot of broken trust in Baltimore over the past fifteen years. Now would be a great time for the Orioles to fix that, and they can do so by simply shooting straight with their fans and not promising them pie in the sky.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays and right-hander Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing on Friday, with a decision expected today.
Chavez, who was acquired from the Athletics this offseason, requested $4 million and was offered $3.6 million by the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. Toronto is known as a “file-and-trial” team, so they bring these cases to a hearing unless a multi-year deal can be reached. The three-person panel of arbitrators will choose one salary or the other.
Chavez, 32, posted a 4.18 ERA and 136/48 K/BB ratio in 157 innings across 26 starts and four relief appearances last season. He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation this spring.
After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.
According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.
“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”
When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.
Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.
Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.
Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.
Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.
Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.
Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.
The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.