Alfredo Simon took over closer duties in Baltimore when he was called up from Triple-A in late April, converting 15 of 17 save chances with a 3.40 ERA and .248 opponents’ batting average through his first 30 appearances.
However, he’s struggled lately, blowing two saves and allowing seven runs in his last six games, and not surprisingly new manager Buck Showalter is already talking about making some changes in the ninth inning:
I’m sure Simon will get some more opportunities along the way, but I feel like we have some other people capable of doing it other than him. We’ll see what each night dictates. Some guys down there have shown that they are capable of getting big outs for us. He has above-average pitches but he’s still got to locate them, too. Guys can turn around a bullet up here.
Koji Uehara is the most obvious non-Simon option to close and then there’s Mike Gonzalez, who was signed to be the closer this offseason and has pitched reasonably well since returning from the disabled list late last month.
The Orioles have re-signed infielder Pedro Alvarez to a minor league deal, per a report from Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. The deal guarantees Alvarez $1 million if he makes the 40-man roster and another $2 million in potential performance bonuses. The team has yet to confirm the deal.
This will be Alvarez’s third year with the Orioles. After posting decent numbers in 2016, the 31-year-old was relegated to the minors for the majority of the 2017 season and saw only 14 games at the big league level. He finished the year with an underwhelming .239/.294/.442 batting line and 26 home runs through 595 plate appearances for Triple-A Norfolk.
Alvarez is expected to split his time between first base and DH this spring, and MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli notes that he’s unlikely to experiment with another outfield role. While he isn’t too far removed from his last productive season in the majors, the veteran infielder will function purely as insurance for first baseman Chris Davis and designated hitter Mark Trumbo and will likely begin the season in the minors.