The Orioles and right-hander Jason Hammel have agreed on a one-year, $6.75 million deal to avoid arbitration, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. The deal includes $300,000 in possible incentives.
Hammel requested $8.25 million and was offered $5.7 million by the Orioles when arbitration figures were exchanged last month, so the two sides settled a little under the midpoint of $6.975 million, but he could make out ahead if he reaches the incentives. Either way, it’s a nice raise for the 30-year-old, who earned $4.75 million last season while posting a solid 3.43 ERA and 113/43 K/BB ratio over 118 innings. This was his final go-around in arbitration, so he is due to hit free agency next winter.
Now that the Orioles have deals in place with Hammel and Jim Johnson, that leaves reliever Darren O’Day as the lone member of the Orioles at risk of going to an arbitration hearing. It probably won’t be necessary, though, as MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported earlier tonight that it looks like something will get done.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.