UPDATE: Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that Casilla got a one-year, $1.7 million deal with a $3 million club option for 2014. The O’s could buy out the option for $200,000.
7:52 PM: Eddie A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Alexi Casilla, utility man Steve Pearce and catcher Taylor Teagarden. No word yet on the terms involved.
Casilla was claimed off waivers from the Twins earlier this month. The 28-year-old earned $1.325 million this past season while hitting .241/.282./.321 with one home run, 30 RBI, 21 stolen bases and a .603 OPS over 326 plate appearances. With Robert Andino now in Seattle, Casilla figures to be in the mix at second base next season along with Brian Roberts and Ryan Flaherty.
Pearce, who turns 30 in April, batted .239/.328/.377 with four home runs, 26 RBI and a .705 OPS over 159 plate appearances this season between the Orioles, Yankees and Astros. He was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and should contend for a bench spot during spring training.
Teagarden only appeared in 22 games with the Orioles this past season due to a nagging lower back injury, but had a knack for getting big hits in important situations, amassing nine RBI in just 64 plate appearances. He turns 29 next month and should be the backup to Matt Wieters in 2013.
The Orioles also acquired minor league infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Pirates for minor league right-hander Jhondaniel Medina and designated right-hander Stu Pomeranz for assignment.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.