UPDATE: According to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Orioles and Jimenez agreed to a four-year, $50 million deal.
6:53 p.m. ET: FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the Orioles and Jimenez have reached agreement on a deal, pending a physical.
6:23 p.m. ET: After sitting on the sidelines for most of the offseason, the Orioles finally appear ready to make a big splash.
Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com reports that the Orioles have made “substantial progress” in contract talks with free agent right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez and are working to finalize a deal. The contract, if finalized, is believed to be for four years and around $48 million.
Jimenez hoped to land a monster contract this offseason after his monster second half last year, but things haven’t turned out exactly as planned. Surely many teams weren’t convinced that a handful of excellent starts were enough to make a substantial investment — it looks like he’ll end up getting a similar contract to Ricky Nolasco (Twins) and Matt Garza (Brewers) — but it also didn’t help that he was attached to draft pick compensation. The Orioles have also been linked to Ervin Santana in recent weeks, but Jimenez has more upside if his second half is a sign of things to come. For a team with a brief window to win with their current roster, they might as well shoot for the moon here. Of course, the bust potential is pretty big, too.
The Orioles will surrender their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) and the corresponding draft pool money if they sign Jimenez. He would join a starting rotation which also projects to include Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Bud Norris, and Miguel Gonzalez.
When he’s not throwing baseballs, Twins pitcher Trevor May is an active gamer. He streams on Twitch, a very popular video game streaming site, fairly regularly and now he’s officially on an eSports team. Luminosity Gaming announced the organization added May last Friday. It appears he’ll be streaming and commentating on Overwatch, a multiplayer first-person shooter made by Blizzard Entertainment.
May is the only current athlete to be an active member of an eSports team. Former NBA player Rick Fox owns Echo Fox, an eSports team that sports players in games including League of Legends, Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Street Fighter V, Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Mortal Kombat X. Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is also a known advocate of eSports.
The NBA in particular has been very active on the eSports front. Kings co-owners Andy Miller and Mark Mastrov launched NRG eSports in November 2015. Shortly thereafter, Grizzlies co-owner Stephen Kaplan invested in the Immortals eSports team. Almost a year later, the 76ers acquired controlling stakes in Team Dignitas and Team Apex. The same month, the Wizards’ and Warriors’ owners launched a group called Axiomatic, which purchased a controlling stake in Team Liquid, a long-time Starcraft: Brood War website which has since branched out into other games. And also in September 2016, Celtics forward Jonas Jerebko bought team Renegades, moving them to a group house in Detroit. In December 2016, the Bucks submitted a deal to Riot Games in order to purchase Cloud9’s Challenger league spot for $2.5 million. The Rockets that month hired someone specifically for eSports development, focusing on strategy and investment. Last month, the Heat acquired a controlling stake in team Misfits.
Once an afterthought, eSports has grown considerably in recent years and now it should be considered a competitor to traditional sports. League of Legends, in particular, is quite popular, reaching nearly 15 million concurrent viewers at its peak in the most recent League of Legends World Championship. That championship featured a prize purse of $6.7 million with $2 million of it being split among winner SK Telecom T1’s members.
The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.
Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.