In need of starting pitching, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have had “recent, active dialogue” with free agent pitchers Ervin Santana, Bronson Arroyo, and Ubaldo Jimenez. Of the three, Santana and Jimenez would both require the Orioles to give up their #17 pick in the first round of the 2014 draft; Arroyo would not.
The pitching market had drawn to a halt as teams were waiting to see where they and others stood in the Masahiro Tanaka sweepstakes. Now that the right-hander has signed a seven-year, $155 million deal, the remaining pitchers on the market are expected to find homes soon as we are about three weeks away from the start of spring training, when pitchers and catchers report in for their respective clubs.
The Orioles have had a tough off-season signing free agents, botching two deals: one with free agent reliever Grant Balfour, and another more recently with outfielder Tyler Colvin. Let’s hope their pursuit of a starter goes a little more smoothly.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.
Update (4:43 PM ET): In response to this, Manfred said that if a catcher or coach made a seventh mound visit, there would have to be a pitching change (via Fletcher). However, chief baseball officer Joe Torre said (via SB Nation’s Eric Stephen) that the seventh visit cannot trigger a pitching change. The umpire would simply have to prevent the seventh mound visit.