Orioles avoid arbitration with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden

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UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Casilla got a one-year, $1.7 million deal with a $3 million club option for 2014. The O’s could buy out the option for $200,000.

7:52 PM: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Alexi Casilla, utility man Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden. No word yet on the terms involved.

Casilla was claimed off waivers from the Twins earlier this month. The 28-year-old earned $1.325 million this past season while hitting .241/.282./.321 with one home run, 30 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .603 OPS over 326 plate appearances. With Robert Andino now in Seattle, Casilla figures to be in the mix at second base next season along with Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty.

Pearce, who turns 30 in April, batted .239/.328/.377 with four home runs, 26 RBI and a .705 OPS over 159 plate appearances this season between the Orioles, Yankees and Astros. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and should contend for a bench spot during spring training.

Teagarden only appeared in 22 games with the Orioles this past season due to a nagging lower back injury, but had a knack for getting big hits in important situations, amassing nine RBI in just 64 plate appearances. He turns 29 next month and should be the backup to Matt Wieters in 2013.

The Orioles also acquired minor league infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates for minor league right-hander Jhondaniel Medina and designated right-hander Stu Pomeranz for assignment.

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

Associated Press
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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.