It was Hall of Fame day yesterday and two new members joined the club: Barry Larkin and Ron Santo.
Larkin’s daughter sang the National Anthem and it brought tears to his eyes. Ron Santo’s widow, Vicki Santo, gave the acceptance speech in her late husband’s honor and it nearly did the same for everyone else. At the end of the day, two worthy additions to the Hall took their proper place.
Larkin — who, from the podium yesterday said that his induction was “unbelievable – un-stinking believable!” — hit .295 for his career and over .300 nine times. He had surprising power for a shortstop who came up when he did and stole nearly 400 bases while playing rock solid defense. He led his team to a World Series championship one year and won an MVP in another and was a 12-time All-Star.
For his part, Santo was one of the best and one of the most underrated third basemen of his era. He hit .277/.362/.464 over 15 seasons in what was mostly an extreme pitcher’s era while hitting 342 home runs and 1331 RBI.
Also honored yesterday: Tim McCarver received the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun was given the J.G. Taylor Spink Award for sports writing.
Oh, and Larkin inspired a loud cheer and a round of applause when he mentioned Pete Rose. Which was fun.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.
Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.
Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.
He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.