When the Orioles’ contract with Grant Balfour fell apart over concerns about the health of his arm the assumption was that Baltimore would sign a different free agent to take over for Jim Johnson as closer.
However, that hasn’t happened yet and now Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles “are no longer focusing on a potential closer.”
According to Connolly they’re prepared to go into the season with in-house options for ninth-inning duties. In that scenario Tommy Hunter would be the presumed favorite after throwing 86 innings with a 2.81 ERA and 68/14 K/BB ratio in a setup role last season and Ryan Webb could also get a look.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Rangers have signed pitcher Jesse Chavez. He’ll earn a $1 million base salary that will increase to $1.5 million if he’s added to the active roster, Heyman notes. The right-hander can earn an additional $500,000 in incentives as a reliever and $1 million in incentives as a starter.
Chavez, 34, struggled across 21 starts and 17 relief appearances for the Angels last season, finishing with a 5.35 ERA and a 119/45 K/BB ratio in 138 innings. He had decent peripherals, but has always allowed a high batting average on balls in play. Chavez has also been homer-prone in recent seasons which may only be exacerbated by the Rangers’ home ballpark.
The Rangers have Mike Minor and Matt Bush already clamoring for the fifth spot in the rotation, so it seems unlikely Chavez will open the year in the rotation. He could wind up there during the season, however, should any of the starters suffer an injury.