Orioles sign sinkerballer Joel Pineiro

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The Orioles added some additional pitching depth Wednesday, signing Joel Pineiro to a minor league contract.

He’ll pitch out of the rotation at Triple-A Norfolk initially.

There was shockingly little interest in Pineiro over the winter, and he ended up signing a minor league deal with the Phillies even though it was obvious they had no room for him. He was cut after allowing five runs — three earned — in six innings this spring.

While Pinero struggled to a 5.13 ERA in 24 starts and three relief appearances for the Angels last season, he did finish with a 3.49 ERA for the Cardinals in 2009 and a 3.84 ERA for the Angels in 2010. His ability to get groundballs could make him pretty useful to the Orioles, perhaps in a middle relief role at first.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”