November 2012

Reynolds non-tendered

The Orioles have decided to non-tender Mark Reynolds, making the  29-year-old first baseman an unrestricted free agent.

Reynolds had his $11 million option declined earlier this offseason, and while it was widely thought initially in the offseason that Baltimore would try to bring him back on a two-year agreement, the possibility of a multiyear deal — or any serious talks regarding bringing Reynolds back – never got off the ground.

With a thin free-agent class of first basemen, Reynolds  –who would have made around $9 million in arbitration — was willing to return to the Orioles, but not at a significantly reduced salary. He made $7.5 million last season, recovering from a poor first half to post a .221/.335/.429 line, with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games.

Sixteen of Reynolds’ homers came in the final two months of the season, as the power hitter worked through the most prolonged slump of his career. Through his first 85 games, Reynolds hit .211 with eight homers and 33 RBIs, striking out 104 times over that stretch. He did continue to draw walks, leading the team for the second season with 73 free passes, and Reynolds helped the Orioles’ reach their first postseason in fifteen years with 15 homers and a .517 slugging percentage his final 50 games.

Well-liked and respected in the clubhouse, Reynolds played through numerous injuries during the regular season and the playoffs. He was hit by a pitch six times during the season and twice during six postseason games, making his health a question with everyone but Reynolds, who deflected any notion that he might need to miss time.

The Orioles also agreed to terms for 2013 contracts with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden, avoiding arbitration with the trio.

Reynolds was acquired December 6, 2010 from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for right-handed pitchers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio and, at the time, was seen as the organization’s solution for its third-base vacancy. And while he led the 2011 team in home runs (37), RBI (86), runs (84), walks (75), and OPS (.806), Reynolds also had a League-leading 196 strikeouts and committed 31 errors in the field, the third-most miscues in a single season in Orioles history.

After starting the season at third base, Reynolds –who committed six errors in 40 chances – was moved across the diamond and he worked hard to turn himself into an above-average first baseman. Frequently taking some good-natured ribbing for his tendency to never stay on his feet, Reynolds became adept at picking balls in the dirt and making excellent scoops, resulting in a .995 fielding percentage in 108 games at first base.

Reynolds posted a .221/.328/.458 line in 290 career games with the Orioles and while it’s unlikely he will resign with Baltimore as a free agent it’s not impossible. Still, with an offseason home in Arizona, Reynolds could sign with a club that allows him to live home during Spring Training and/or perhaps make a return to the National League.

Orioles trade for Navarro, agree to terms with three

The Orioles have acquired infielder Yamaico Navarro from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Minor League right-handed pitcher Jhondaniel Medina.

Navarro, 25, batted .279/.366/.491 with nine home runs and 35 RBI in 66 games with Triple-A Indianapolis and .160/.232/.220 with one home run and four RBI in 29 games for the Pirates last season.  He is a career .279/.350/.437 hitter in 536 games over seven minor league seasons.

Medina, 19, went 1-3 with a 4.14 ERA (50.0IP, 23ER) in 11 games with Gulf Coast (10 games) and Class-A Aberdeen (one game) last season.

The Orioles designated right-handed pitcher Stu Pomeranz for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.  The 27–year-old Pomeranz didn’t allow a run in 10 minor league outings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk in 2012.  He pitched to a 3.00 ERA in three games with the Orioles.

The Orioles also agreed to terms for 2013 contracts with Alexi Casilla, Steve Pearce and Taylor Teagarden, avoiding arbitration with the trio.

A few notes before the deadline

*Tonight at midnight is the deadline for arbitration-eligible players to be offered contracts by their respective clubs and the Orioles have 14 of those players. The biggest question, which you’ve heard about the last few days, is first baseman Mark Reynolds. The Orioles and Reynolds’ camp haven’t had any talks about a deal and if the two sides can’t get a contract for 2013 ironed out in advance of the deadline, it’s very likely Reynolds will get non-tendered. The O’s won’t offer Reynolds arbitration given that he stands to make around $9 million in an independent arbitrator hearing, which take place in February or March.

As of Friday morning, it appears headed in the direction of Reynolds being non-tendered, which would make him an unrestricted free agent and free to sign with other clubs. I wrote about the situation earlier this week, which you can read here.

Players who are expected to be offered a contract for next season are: Jim Johnson, Matt Wieters, Chris Davis, Jason Hammel, Troy Patton, Darren O’Day, Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter, Nolan Reimold and newly acquired Alexi Casilla.

There are three others that could be non-tendered along with Reynolds: Steve Pearce, Omar Quintanilla and Taylor Teagarden.

*The Diamondbacks have released for Oriole pitcher Brad Bergesen according to the transaction page on CBSSports.com. Bergesen was claimed off of waivers by Arizona after the O’s designated him for assignment. He would have been a second-time arbitration-eligible, but is now a free agent.

*In case you missed it yesterday, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones took a pair of in-need families from Baltimore City holiday shopping. You can read more on that and Jones’ efforts to get more involved in the community here.

Os announce spring schedule

The Orioles have announced their 2013 Grapefruit League schedule, which opens February 23 with a 1:05 p.m. game against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium.  2013 marks the fourth consecutive spring training for the Orioles in Sarasota, and the third in the renovated Ed Smith Stadium.

Baltimore will face eight different opponents during the 2013 Grapefruit League campaign.  The O’s will host the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates three times each and the Minnesota Twins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays two times each, with the New York Mets also making one visit to Sarasota.  In preparation for this year’s World Baseball Classic, Team Brazil will come to Sarasota to play the Orioles, rounding out the 18-game home schedule.

The Orioles will play 16 games on the road during the 2012 Grapefruit League schedule. They will make four trips to play the Pirates, three trips to play the Blue Jays and Twins, two trips to play the Rays and Red Sox and one trip to play the Yankees and Phillies.

Fans interested in season plans, five-game flex packs or group tickets, or those wishing to receive additional spring training ticket information may call the Orioles spring training office in Sarasota at 941-893-6300.

The Orioles are also offering the official Spring Training Travel Package that includes hotel accommodations, rental car, game tickets, optional airfare through Southwest Airlines and other amenities.  For more information or to order travel packages, fans should visit www.orioles.com/springtravel or call 1-800-892-7687.

Single game tickets for all 18 of the Orioles’ Grapefruit League Games at Ed Smith Stadium will go on-sale January 26, 2013. Pitchers and catchers will report to Sarasota February 12 and position players will report on February 15.

Here’s the full schedule…

BALTIMORE ORIOLES 2013 SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE

DATE                 OPPONENT              LOCATION                  TIME (PM)

February 23       Minnesota Twins       Sarasota                                 1:05

February 24       at Toronto  (ss)          Dunedin                                 1:05

February 25       New York                    Sarasota                                 1:05

February 26       at Pittsburgh              Bradenton                              1:05

February 27       at New York                Tampa                                    1:05

Boston                 Sarasota                      7:05

February 28       at Minnesota             Ft. Myers                                1:05

March 1               Pittsburgh (ss)          Sarasota                                  1:05

March 2              at Tampa Bay            Port Charlotte                        1:05

March 3              Philadelphia (ss)      Sarasota                                   1:05

March 5               at Toronto                Dunedin                                   1:05

March 6              Brazil (WBC)            Sarasota                                   1:05

March 7               Toronto                    Sarasota                                   1:05

March 8               at Pittsburgh          Bradenton                                7:05

March 9                at Boston                Ft. Myers                                 7:05

March 10              Pirates (ss)             Sarasota                                  1:05

March 11               at Pittsburgh         Bradenton                              1:05

March 13              at Minnesota          Ft. Myers                               7:05

March 14              Tampa Bay             Sarasota                                 1:05

March 15              Boston  (ss)            Sarasota                                 1:05

March 16              at Toronto              Dunedin                                1:05

March 17              Minnesota              Sarasota                                 1:05

at Philadelphia    Clearwater             1:05

March 19             at Boston                 Ft. Myers                               1:35

March 20             Toronto                   Sarasota                                1:05

March 21              Pittsburgh              Sarasota                                7:05

March 22             at Tampa (ss)        Port Charlotte                       1:05

March 23             Philadelphia          Sarasota                                 1:05

March 24             at Pittsburgh         Bradenton                             1:05

March 25             Boston                     Sarasota                                1:05

March 26             at Minnesota          Ft. Myers                              1:05

March 27             New York                Sarasota                                7:05

March 28             Tampa Bay             Sarasota                                7:05

March 30             New York Mets      Sarasota                                12:05

Os acquire Valencia, DFA Mahoney

The Orioles acquired infielder Danny Valencia from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for cash considerations, designating infielder Joe Mahoney for assignment in a related move on Wednesday afternoon to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Valencia was designated for assignment by Boston last week, coming to the organization in an August trade with the Minnesota Twins in exchange for outfielder Jeremias Pineda. The 28-year-old Valencia is primarily a third baseman and he posted a combined 188/.199 /.299 line in 44 Major League games last season with the two clubs. He came in third in AL Rookie of the Year voting in 2010 and had his best season in ’11, when he hit .246 with 15 home runs and a team-leading 72 RBIs in a Major League-leading 154 games played. He also led Major League third baseman with 260 assists.

Valencia is a career .316/.359/.472 hitter in 326 plate appearances against left-handed pitching, and he posted a .226/.214/.377 line in 56 big-league plate appearances last season.

Mahoney, 25, batted .265/.319/.389 in 132 games for Triple-A Norfolk in 2012.  He also made his Major League debut on July 7. Mahoney appeared in two games for the Orioles, going 0-for-4.

A few notes

*As a reminder, the deadline for teams to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players is this Friday and the Orioles’ biggest tender question is Mark Reynolds. I wrote about that situation here and continue to believe, although this is purely speculation, Reynolds will be non-tendered unless he agrees to a sizable paycut.

*The Orioles have signed several independent league pitchers lately, most recently right-handed pitcher Marcel Prado, according to a tweet from the American Association. The 25-year-old Prado was 2-3 with a 3.38 ERA in 44 relief appearances with El Paso.

The O’s added independent league pitchers Logan Mahon and Chase Johnson on minor league deals, as well outfielder Buddy Sosnoskie, according to the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks website. Sosnoskie played for the Redhawks this past season.

*I’ve been asked a few times about the Orioles Spring Training schedule and that’s due to be officially released any day now. Last year’s schedule came out Nov. 29 and the organization has the same timeframe this year.

*There’s no timetable for the hiring of a third base coach to replace the departed DeMarlo Hale, although manager Buck Showalter is going through candidates now. Hale accepted a bench coach position with the Toronto Blue Jays. The rest of Showalter’s coaching staff from last season has agreed to new deals to return in 2013.

*This is not baseball-related, but –as some of you who follow me on Twitter know- I’m a runner  and wanted to pass it along.

Today is the last day to purchase tickets online for the 4th Annual Back on My Feet Baltimore Bash, which is this Thursday, November 29, from 6:30PM – 10:30 p.m. at the Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards. The Bash is an evening of celebration, music, food, dancing and has a silent auction –including some sports items– with nearly 100 percent of the event’s proceeds going toward the non-profit organization.

Back on My Feet Baltimore promotes the self-sufficiency of the homeless population by engaging them in running as a means to build confidence, strength and self-esteem. The Baltimore chapter launched in March 2009. For tickets or sponsorship opportunities you can go here: http://bomf.ticketleap.com/4th-annual-back-on-my-feet-baltimore-bash/#

Tickets will also be available for purchase at the door.

The Reynolds question

Since there’s been some confusion and I’m getting a bunch of questions about Mark Reynolds’ future with the Orioles, here are some thoughts/quick notes to go along with the story I wrote earlier Tuesday night for Orioles.com (which you can read here.)

*The two sides have had no negotiations regarding Reynolds’ 2013 contract. There’s been no two-year offers or haggling over a one-year price, no discussions on any of that as of Tuesday night. The communication has been pretty sparse since the organization officially declined his $11-million option, with Friday the deadline to decide whether to tender him a contract or not.

*Reynolds made $7.5 million last season, recovering from a poor first half to post a .221 /.335/.429 line with 23 homers and 69 RBIs in 135 games, and it’s believed he would accept a one-year deal around that sum to return to Baltimore. The question becomes for executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, do you pay him that again? The Orioles don’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the payroll with a large number of arbitration eligibles and returning contracts projected to put them in the mid-$80 million range.

*With a short list of first baseman on the free agent market, Reynolds wouldn’t accept a paycut from last season and the Orioles aren’t expected to offer him arbitration which could cost them around $9 million. That means, should the two sides not reach an agreement by Friday, Reynolds would probably be non-tendered and become a free agent.

*Duquette hasn’t ruled out the possibility of exploring a deal with Reynolds, and the organization has the right to do that until Friday’s deadline. So while there’s not a lot of optimism on that front, it’s certainly not out of the question that the two sides can converge rather quickly in the next few days to keep him.

*Should Reynolds become a free agent, it would be hard to imagine a scenario where he would re-sign with Baltimore, although not not totally out of the question Reynolds has an offseason home in Arizona, and could make a return to the National League, or another organization with Spring Training facilities out west.

Palmer to recieve lifetime player achievement award

Passing along this release...

Orioles broadcaster and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer will receive the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s Player Lifetime Achievement Award at its 10th Annual gala on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

Palmer had an outstanding 19-year pitching career with the Baltimore Orioles. His major league career began in 1965 where he won his very first game against the New York Yankees. One year later, when the Orioles took on the Dodgers for the World Series, Palmer became the youngest pitcher to record a complete game victory in the Fall Classic.   That year the Orioles beat the Dodgers to win the World Series and Palmer and the Orioles went on to win two other World Series Championships (1970 and 1983) making him the only pitcher in World Series history to win in each of three decades.

The Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation has helped baseball scouts in need due to job loss, illness or financial hardships over the past nine years through the success of the annual “In The Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular. Dennis Gilbert heads the foundation.

“When you talk about the best pitchers in baseball history, Jim Palmer is certainly at the top of the list among the greatest of all-time,” said Gilbert.  “When he took the mound for the Orioles, you knew he would be tough to beat.  His lifetime statistics speak volumes of his performance.  He amazingly completed more than 40 per cent of his 521 lifetime starts, which is unheard of these days”.

Palmer will receive the Player Lifetime Achievement Award at the gala, which is annually attended by 1,500 guests, including many prominent figures from the world of sports, entertainment and media.

Palmer was a 6-time All-Star, 3-time World Series Champion, 3-time AL Cy Young Award winner, and 4-time Gold Glove Award winner. In his 19-year career, Palmer achieved a 268-152 won-loss record with 2,212 strikeouts, a 2.86 ERA, 521 games started, 211 complete games, and 53 shutouts in 3,948 innings. He also never allowed a grand slam in his career. In 1990 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

After his playing career ended in 1984, Palmer went on to become a color commentator for the Orioles, a role which he still serves today.

Other honorees at this year’s Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation’s star-studded 2013 “In the Spirit of the Game” Sports and Entertainment Spectacular include Dodgers’ broadcaster Vin Scully, Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner, and Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly.  Other honorees will be announced soon.

The event has honored many legendary baseball Hall of Fame players, managers, scouts, coaches and executives, including Al Rosen, Jim Leyland, Johnny Bench, Willie Mays, Reggie Jackson, Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Sandy Koufax, Bob Feller, Brooks Robinson, Cal Ripken, Jr., Tony LaRussa, Robin Roberts, Tom Seaver, Joe Garagiola Sr., Robin Yount, Jim Fregosi Sr. as well as Goose Gossage, Whitey Herzog, Eric Gagne, Curt Schilling, Olympic Gold Medalist Jennie Finch, the Boone Family, the Brett family, the Alou family, the Manny Mota family, the Lachemann family, Major League Baseball executive Pat Gillick, the Boeckmanns, Laura Ziskin, legendary baseball scouts George Genovese, Dave Garcia, Hank King, Gene Bennett, Mel Didier, Epy Guerrero, Moose Johnson, Lenny Yochum and the late Bob Zuk. Past attendees include: MLB Commissioner Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Rod Carew, Tommy Lasorda,  Arte Moreno, Jerry Reinsdorf, Lew Wolff, Mark Attanasio, Brady Anderson, Bret Saberhagen, Chase Utley, Darrell Evans, Don Newcombe, Barry Zito, Joe Borchard, Jerry West, Alyssa Milano, Don Johnson, Tom Arnold, Jane Seymour, James Keach, Michael McDonald, Donnie Most, Mary Hart and Kenny Loggins.

Tickets and sponsorship packages are available to the public by calling (818) 224-3906.

 

A few notes: Hale, Hamilton, Ford’s contract, etc.

A few odds and ends in the final week before the baseball’s annual Winter Meetings take place in Nashville…

*In case you missed it, the Orioles lost third base coach DeMarlo Hale to the Toronto Blue Jays where Hale will serve as bench coach. Hale’s contract ended at the end of the season and the O’s had hoped to resign him, but couldn’t match the kind of offer the Jays had. A bench coach is also considered a promotion from third base. The Jays officially announced the move, first reported Friday night, this morning.

*Major League Baseball released the info for this past year’s playoff shares. The Orioles award 54 full shares for postseason bonuses, with the full share amount $34,825.61. They also awarded 5.85 partial shares and 25 cash awards.

*Orioles manager Buck Showalter has been named Major League Manager of the Year by the Boston Chapter of the BBWAA. He will be among those honored at the chapter’s 74th annual dinner on Jan. 24, 2013 at the Westin Copley Hotel in downtown Boston.

*The non-tender deadline is this Friday and the biggest question mark remains whether the Orioles will offer a contract to first baseman Mark Reynolds. If the O’s allow him to become a free agent, it’d be hard to imagine a scenario where Reynolds would re-sign in Baltimore, although not impossible. The organization is also in talks with retaining free agents outfielder Nate McLouth and left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, although –as of Monday morning — nothing is imminent on either front.

While Reynolds stands to make the most money if offered arbitration –with a figure projected around $9 million — the Orioles have more than a dozen arbitration-eligible players which will push the payroll to the mid-$80 million range and doesn’t leave executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette a whole lot of wiggle room to add from the free agent market.

So, what will the Orioles do? It’s unlikely the team will be able to make substantial upgrades on the free agent market, which is why Duquette has been in talks with potential trade partners and will continue to seek out the kind of under-the-radar signings that give Baltimore the chance to compete with its richer rivals. Toronto’s big spending this winter won’t push the Orioles to go above their means, with Showalter quipping that the club can continue to “be the Little Engine that Could” in the American League East.

If the O’s allow him to become a free agent, it’d be hard to imagine a scenario where Reynolds would re-sign in Baltimore, although not impossible. The organization is also in talks with retaining free agents outfielder Nate McLouth and left-handed pitcher Joe Saunders, although nothing is imminent on either front. While Reynolds stands to make the most money if offered arbitration –with a figure projected around $9 million — the Orioles have more than a dozen arbitration-eligible players which will push the payroll to the mid-$80 million range and doesn’t leave Duquette a whole lot of wiggle room to add from the free agent market.

Even if the market price drops for the likes of outfielder Josh Hamilton and pitcher Zack Greinke –considered the top two free available free agents – it’s unclear how much, if at all, the Orioles would be in the running. The organization isn’t interested in Nick Swisher and, beyond resigning McLouth and Saunders, the Orioles haven’t been linked with many free agents this offseason, although things are due to heat up next week in Nashville.

*Outfielder Lew Ford’s contract agreement with the Orioles for next season is for $120,000 and rises to $625,000 if he’s in the Majors. It includes an invitation to Major League Spring Training and an out if he’s not on the big league roster by July 15. Ford will be released upon his request after that date. If he’s not on the 25-man roster, he may sign with a Korean team for $75,000, with a Japanese team for $100,000 or be added to the O’s roster within 48 hours. If he’s in the Minors, the Minor League contract portion works out to $15,000 per month.

*The Aberdeen IronBirds, Class ‘A’ short season affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, unveiled a new team logo today that will make its national merchandise debut at the Baseball Winter Meetings next Monday in Nashville.

“This logo represents a new era of IronBirds baseball in Aberdeen,” Cal Ripken, founder of Ripken Baseball, said in a press release. “We have a lot of exciting plans for 2013, while continuing to remain true to our core mission of creating memorable experiences in and around the game of baseball.”

Newly branded hats and t-shirts are currently available online and at “The Hangar,” the official merchandise store of the Aberdeen IronBirds.

“The IronBirds are evolving to continue to remain on baseball’s leading edge,” said Bill Ripken, co-founder and executive vice president of Ripken Baseball. “This is why we wanted a fresh new look and feel to connect with families, and resonate with fans of all ages.”

The IronBirds have also officially announced their schedule for the 2013 season; Opening Day is Monday, June 17 at 7:35 p.m. Season ticket packages are currently available and offered through full season, half season and 9-game ticket plans.For more information about Aberdeen IronBirds new merchandise and to order 2013 season ticket plans, please call 410-297-9292 or visit http://www.IronBirdsBaseball.com.

Schoop and Belfiore added to 40-man roster

The Orioles selected the contracts of infielder Jonathan Schoop and left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore from Double-A Bowie on Tuesday afternoon and outrighted right-hander Oliver Drake to Triple-A Norfolk to clear space on the 40-man roster.

The pair of prospects were added in advance of next month’s Rule-5 Draft –protecting them from being taken by another club — and put the Orioles’ 40-man roster at capacity. Major League Baseball’s deadline to protect players is Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

“They are young, they are strong and they distinguished themselves in Double-A,” executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said of Schoop and Belfiore.

“Belfiore has had a good year. He pitched well in the California League, he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League and also in the Eastern League. And he’s very tough on left-handed hitters. Schoop can play the middle of the diamond and he can hit. He’s got some power.”

The full story is up on Orioles.com.

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