Archive for the ‘FA Signings’ Category

O’s Sign DH Candidate

January 24, 2012

The Orioles have signed DH/3B Wilson Betemit to a two year deal worth $3 million with a $3 million vesting option for 2014.

On the same day the Detroit Tigers signed Prince Fielder to a ridiculously stupid 9 year, $214 million contract the Orioles sign who will probably end up being their primary DH. I would’ve liked to have seen Fielder here, but I think we can all agree hes not worth what he got and the O’s had no reason to top it. Betemit is a guy that has played all four infield positions and can give you innings at first, second, and third in a pinch but his best tool is his bat. Last year he followed up the 2010 season (when he had a .889 OPS over 315 plate appearances) with a line of .285/.343/.452 with 22 doubles, 4 triples, 8 homeruns, 46 RBI, and 4 stolen bases over 359 plate appearances split between the Royals and Tigers. As a switch hitter he is more effective from the left side of the plate (.817 career OPS against RHP, .684 against LHP) so he’ll get most of the at bats from the DH slot against righties with, I assume, one of Mark Reynolds/Nolan Reimold/Jai Miller being the DH against left handed starters. Betemit’s vesting option guarantees him a third year after 700 plate appearances. That doesn’t appear that hard to reach but it allows the Orioles to release him before then if hes not performing up to their expectations. The 2012 Orioles are starting to come together. There could be another minor signing or two and maybe a trade before spring training but I wouldn’t expect any big shake ups at this point, to the dismay of alot of fans I’m sure. We’ve improved. By how much remains to be seen.

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O’s Add Another Left Handed Starter In Chen

January 10, 2012

The Orioles have signed Taiwanese LHP Wei-Yin Chen to a three year contract worth around $12 million with an option for the 2015 season.

I really like this signing. Dan Duquette continues his foray into the international market, signing his second left handed pitcher that was a successful starter in Japan. I liked the Wada signing even though he most likely ends up in the bullpen, but Chen has more upside. Hes only 26 and throws much harder, sitting between 90-92 and reportedly hitting up to 96 mph. He has a slow curve ball, an inconsistent slider, and worked on a forkball in 2011. If he was a pitcher in our farm system he would probably slot anywhere from 4-7 in our top 10. He had a career record of 36-30 with a 2.59 ERA over five seasons in Japan. In 2011 he was 8-10 with a 2.68 ERA over 164.2 innings with 94 strikeouts and 31 walks. He dealt with a minor leg injury for some of the season.

The O’s get great value at about $4 million a year. Sure there is some risk associated as Chen (and Wada) have to adjust to the lifestyle and five man rotation of the major leagues but he could be a steal. At worst hes a left handed power arm out of the bullpen but he could also end up as a middle of the rotation starter, which would be a steal at that price. Spring Training will be interesting as we learn more about Chen, Wada, and the rest of our new additions to the roster. We now have alot of depth at SP and I like that the young guys like Jake Arrieta, Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, etc. will have to earn their places in the rotation, unlike recent years where they were handed spots. As it stands we have Jeremy Guthrie, Chen, Wada, Tommy Hunter, Dana Eveland, Arrieta, Britton, Matusz, Chris Tillman, Brad Bergesen, and Alfredo Simon all fighting for rotation. Theres also alot to choose from for the bullpen as well. Its not something we’re used to but its nice to have. We also have the ability to trade from the depth if Duquette so chooses. Hes not done molding this team yet.

More Bench Depth Signed

December 21, 2011

The Orioles have signed OF Endy Chavez to a one year contract for $1.5 million. There are also incentives which could add $500,000 to the deal if reached.

The Orioles have yet to make any big trades or signings to help the major league club but Dan Duquette has done very well in improving the bench. Acquiring players like Taylor Teagarden, Matt Antonelli, Ryan Flaherty, and now Chavez will keep there from being a huge drop off when a starter is hurt or gets a day off. Chavez will be a very good fourth outfielder. Hes a great defender at all three outfield positions and can handle the bat. He doesn’t have great power or plate discipline but hits for a good average. Last year with the Texas Rangers he hit .301/.323/.426 with 11 doubles, 3 triples, 5 homeruns, 27 RBI, and 10 stolen bases after being called up from AAA in late May. Chavez batted .305/.353/.445 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homeruns, 17 RBI, and 6 stolen bases with Round Rock. As it stands right now he’ll be the primary back up for Nolan Reimold, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis while getting a little more playing time in left field than the other spots. I don’t think he’ll platoon with Reimold but he’ll most likely get one or two starts a week out there. It remains to be seen whether the Orioles make a big splash this offseason but at least they’re getting the little things right with the depth signings and foray into the international market. Its pretty certain that this team isn’t going to do much in 2012 at this point unless something drastic happens but we can at least be respectable while waiting for the players to develop in the farm system and on the big league level.

A Couple Minor Signings

November 28, 2011

UPDATE: Chong decided to stay in Korea, accepting a three year deal from one of their teams. Not a big loss but it would’ve been an interesting signing.

The Orioles have signed 2B/3B Matt Antonelli and Korean RHP Chong Tae-Hyon to major league contracts.

Antonelli is a former first round pick and was once a highly regarded prospect for the San Diego Padres. He gets a one year deal with a chance to be a starter at either second or third base. Most likely he’ll be a solid option off the bench but if Mark Reynolds starts at first base or Brian Roberts isn’t healthy to start the season he has a chance. He has a solid glove and is good at getting on base. He has decent power for a second baseman. Over 300 at bats for AAA Syracuse he batted .297/.393/.460 with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 8 HRs, 30 RBI, and 6 stolen bases. After coming off an excellent 2007 season, he struggled in 2008 including a brief stint in the majors. He battled injuries in 2009 and 2010 before having a bounce back year last season at age 26. I like the signing for bench depth.

Chong is the first South Korean player to get signed directly to the major leagues. Hes 33 years old and pitched for Korea in the World Baseball Classic with some success. He was a late inning reliever with very good stats over there in his career. Last season he had a 1.48 ERA over 52.2 innings with 39 strikeouts and 28 walks. Thats not a great K/BB ratio but hes a groundball pitcher and the year before he had 47 strikeouts and only 8 walks over 45 innings with a 1.40 ERA. Hes a submarine style pitcher that will probably profile as a right handed specialist in the majors. Apparently the deal is for two years for a total of $3 million. I’m not convinced he’ll be a great pitcher in the major leagues but I like the fact that Dan Duquette is taking chances and looking at different avenues for talent. He said he was going to put more emphasis on international talent and so far hes lived up to his word.

O’s Get Vlad

February 4, 2011

The Orioles have signed DH Vladimir Guerrero to a one year contract worth $8 million pending a physical.

The game of cat and mouse is over. We’ve been hearing Vlad to the Orioles for weeks now and it finally came to fruition. I was fine going into the season with Luke Scott at DH and a Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold platoon in left field but theres no question that this signing makes us better. Guerrero will be our full time DH, moving Scott to left and Pie to the bench as the fourth outfielder. Reimold will either start the year at AAA Norfolk or on the Orioles bench getting at bats in the outfield, first base, and DH. The depth created here is a big plus. If theres an injury (and there usually is at some point) then we’ll be ready to adapt to the situation. Vlad had a solid bounce back season in 2010 after battling injuries in 2009. He hit .300/.345/.496 with 27 doubles, a triple, 29 homeruns, and 115 RBI for the Rangers on their way to the world series. Theres no doubt hes slow, getting old, and in the decline phase of his career but theres plenty of reason to believe Vlad is still capable of putting up a good season. Some reason for concern is that he performed much worse after the all-star break than before hand (1.018 OPS before, .748 after) but he had a respectable September. He was awful in the playoffs too, putting up a Cesar Izturis like .513 OPS. If he puts up another great first half and Pie and Reimold are performing the way they’re capable of we could always trade Vlad before the deadline depending on how the season is going. The price is a little steep but its only a one year deal so it won’t effect our payroll in the years to come even if he performs under par. He’ll receive $5 million in 2011 while the other $3 million will be deferred across two years at some point in the years to come. As much as I was indifferent about signing him, I can’t help but be excited to watch him play in an O’s uniform. The season can’t come soon enough.

O’s Sign Starter Duchscherer

January 31, 2011

The Orioles have signed RHP Justin Duchscherer to a one year contract worth $1.1 million if he makes the team. The deal could be worth as much as $4.5 million if he reaches all his incentives.

The Orioles were looking for a veteran starting pitcher to compete with Chris Tillman for the final spot in the rotation and take some pressure off of the young starters and they made an excellent choice in Duchscherer. He hasn’t pitched a full season since he was a reliever in 2006 but when hes healthy Duchscherer is very good. He has a career ERA of 3.13, even better since converting back to starting in 2008. Last year he was 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA over only five starts before getting hip surgery. Its a low risk (cheap, incentive laden contract), high reward type of signing. If he stays healthy theres a good chance he’ll put up the best numbers on the staff and we’d only have to pay him $4.5 million. If he breaks down again or misses significant time then we’ll pay much less (his incentives are based on games started) and Tillman or Zach Britton will get their chance in the rotation. I didn’t want the O’s to block Tillman or Britton with a Kevin Millwood type guy who eats innings but isn’t very good but Duchscherer represents a chance to get a number two or three starter on the cheap while giving our prospects more seasoning. Chances are there will be an injury or two over the course of the season and those guys will get their opportunities. This has been a great offseason and the team is pretty much set at this point. The only thing remaining would be if we can sign Vladimir Guerrero to DH, moving Luke Scott to left field or if we go with a Felix Pie/Nolan Reimold platoon in left and maybe sign another bat for the bench.

Minor League Signings

January 28, 2011

I’ll keep a tally of all the players the Orioles sign to minor league deals with invites to spring training here.

LHP Clay Rapada – 29 years old – 1-2, 1.82 ERA, 2 SV, 59.1 IP, 61 K, 21 BB for AAA Oklahoma City, 0-0, 4.00 ERA, 9 IP, 5 K, 7 BB for Texas in 2010 – Most likely the favorite to win the left handed specialist job in spring training. Hes dominant against left handed hitters.
LHP Nick Bierbrodt – 32 years old – 1-1, 6.57 ERA, 1 SV, 37 IP, 32 K, 25 BB for Colorado minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
INF Nick Green – 32 years old – .240/.290/.388, 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 HR, 31 RBI, 1 SB, 242 AB in AAA during 2010 – More middle infield depth. He’ll start out at AAA Norfolk and only be promoted if the injury bug hits the O’s again.
LHP Mark Hendrickson – 36 years old – 1-6, 5.26 ERA, 75.1 IP, 55 K, 20 BB for the Orioles in 2010 – I didn’t want the O’s to bring Hendrickson back but its fine since its a minor league deal. I’m hoping he starts out at AAA Norfolk, he’d be nice depth to have there. Rapada seems like a better fit to be the second lefty in the bullpen but spring training will sort that out.
OF Jeff Fiorentino – 27 years old – Played the 2010 season in Japan – Fiorentino returns to the Orioles for the third time in his career. This time hes purely minor league outfield depth.
RHP Chris Jakubauskas – 32 years old – 1-6, 5.09 ERA, 40.2 IP, 33 K, 15 BB for the Pittsburgh minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league relief depth.
RHP Mark Worrell – 27 years old – 2-4, 5.84 ERA, 37 IP, 34 K, 14 BB at AAA in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
LHP James Houser – 26 years old – 1-4, 5.08 ERA, 56.2 IP, 48 K, 24 BB for Florida minor league affiliates in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
RHP Josh Rupe – 28 years old – 2-4, 2.92 ERA, 10 SV, 52.1 IP, 49 K, 23 BB for AAA Omaha and 1-1, 5.59 ERA, 9.2 IP, 8 K, 7 BB for Kansas City in 2010 – Interesting arm, minor league bullpen depth.
RHP Ryan Drese – 34 years old – 5-3, 3.12 ERA, 52 IP, 16 K, 16 BB for Mexican winter ball in 2010 – Minor league bullpen depth.
OF Randy Winn – 36 years old – .239/.307/.356, 8 doubles, 2 triples, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 6 SB combined between New York (Yankees) and St.Louis in 2010 – Minor league outfield depth. Injury insurance.
RHP David Riske – 34 years old – 2-1, 5.54 ERA, 13 IP, 11 K, 6 BB in the minors and 0-0, 5.01 ERA, 23.1 IP, 16 K, and 8 BB for the Brewers in 2010 – Hes coming off Tommy John surgery from 2009 and has had pretty good success in his major league career but hes a long shot to make the Orioles at any point this year. Worth a shot though as minor league bullpen depth.

Lefty Reliever Signed

January 25, 2011

The Orioles have signed LHP Clay Rapada to a minor league contract.

The 29 year old Rapada pitched in the Texas Ranger’s organization last year, mostly for AAA Oklahoma City. He had a 1.82 ERA and 2 saves for them over 59.1 innings with 61 strikeouts and 21 walks. He held batters to a .158 average in AAA and .188 in his 13 appearances with the Rangers, lefties going just 1-21. He pitched 9 innings with a 4.00 ERA, 5 strikeouts, and 7 walks in the big leagues. He’ll compete for the second lefty job in the bullpen during spring training. Troy Patton, another competitor for that job, was arrested for a DUI in Texas over the weekend most likely assuring he’ll start at AAA Norfolk. Pedro Viola is another guy competing for that role but I’d say its almost a guarantee he starts in AAA as well. The only real competition for Rapada would be if the Orioles signed LHP Joe Beimel, who they have a minor league offer out to as well. Either way I think Clay is a good fit. Hes proven he can fill the Will Ohman role and get lefties out. Or hes good insurance at AAA if we need him later in the season.

O’s Sign Gregg

January 4, 2011

The Orioles have signed RHP Kevin Gregg to a two year deal worth $10 million that includes a vesting option for 2013 based on games finished.

The Orioles just finished upgrading the infield with the addition of 1B Derrek Lee and have now turned their attention to the bullpen. RHP Koji Uehara was re-signed last month and now Gregg joins him, Mike Gonzalez, and Jim Johnson as late inning relievers. The O’s needed him after trading David Hernandez and other potential bullpen options (Kam Mickolio, Jim Hoey, Brett Jacobson) for 3B Mark Reynolds and SS JJ Hardy and with the uncertainty surrounding Alfredo Simon. Gregg saved 37 games for the Blue Jays in 2010 with a 3.51 ERA and 58 strikeouts over 59 innings. He also walked 30 batters. I think he can help the bullpen as hes been durable over his career and hes fairly consistent for a reliever. Hes saved at least 23 games in each of the last four seasons, spanning three teams. I don’t think saves are a great indication of talent but he also averaged a mid threes ERA and solid strikeout rates over that span. He walks alot of batters so him and Gonzalez could be frustrating to watch at times, which is why I would have Koji as our closer to start the season.

The contract is a little high on the salary side, MacPhail is paying for those saves a bit, but I don’t mind the two years. Hes 32 years old so even with a slight decline we should expect an ERA slightly below or above four with at least an 8 K/9. The vesting option I’m leery of. Hopefully we don’t use him as the closer in 2012 so theres not as much of a chance that the option vests and we can let him sign elsewhere while obtaining a compensation draft pick. The best thing might be that we don’t have to give up a pick for signing him, which would’ve been the case had we got Grant Balfour or Rafael Soriano. A team in our position shouldn’t be giving up draft picks for middle of the road relievers. For 2011 at least, it makes us a better team. The bullpen is starting to come together now. We have Gregg, Uehara, Gonzalez, and Johnson for the back end and Jason Berken, Jeremy Accardo, Rick VandenHurk, Adrian Rosario, and any other relievers signed will battle in spring training for the other three spots. Reports indicate the Orioles would still like to add a left handed reliever, maybe a Will Ohman reuinion? I’d prefer someone else because I think he had a bit of luck in his performance last season but it wouldn’t be the worst signing. MacPhail also wants to add a veteran starting pitcher and a bench player that can hit. As we get closer and closer to spring training the roster is coming together and I’m happy with how its looking.

Derrek Lee Signed For One Year

December 31, 2010

The Orioles have agreed to terms with 1B Derrek Lee on a one year contract worth $7.25 million with incentives that could make it as high as $10 million.

This is another great move this offseason by Andy MacPhail and it puts the finishing touches on our revamped infield. The Orioles plugged the holes at third base and shortstop relatively quickly with Mark Reynolds and JJ Hardy respectively but it seemed like first base was dragging on forever. Originally it seemed like we were close to a deal with Adam LaRoche on a three year deal but for whatever reason it never happened so we turned our attention to Lee and eventually a deal got done. Hes coming off a down year but theres not much downside to a one year contract. Last season Lee batted .260/.347/.428 with 35 doubles, 19 homeruns, and 80 RBI over 547 at bats between the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves. That alone would be a big upgrade over what the Orioles produced at first base in 2010 but the good news is that Lee’s stats improved after being traded to the Braves. He went from .251/.335/.416 with the Cubs to .287/.384/.465 with Atlanta. He also played all of last season with a torn ligament in his thumb which he had surgically repaired after the season ended. In 2009 he had the second best season of his career with a line of .306/.393/.579 with 36 doubles, 2 triples, 35 homeruns, and 111 RBI. Hes 35 years old so you can’t count on him getting back to that level but I think its fair to look for an OPS around .850 like he had after being traded to the Braves last year. He should be healthy entering spring training and motivated to prove last year was a fluke. He’ll be a free agent again after 2011 so it would do him well to put up a good season so he can cash in on one more multiyear contract. We can also offer arbitration after the season in this case to either get an extra draft pick or two, or have him accept for another reasonable one year contract. Hes also a very good defensive first baseman so our infield will be improved both offensively and defensively. Patience, power, and defense – what more can you ask for from your first baseman? He might not be the long term solution for our franchise but on a one year deal I think its the best we could’ve possibly done.