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More on Fowler

I’ll have a full story up shortly on Orioles.com with more quotes on Dexter Fowler and what transpired, but here are a few quick hits and a recap of the timeline.

*Word leaked out Tuesday night that the Orioles were finalizing a three-year, $33 million agreement with Fowler, a report that an industry source confirmed to MLB.com.

O’s center fielder Adam Jones said Wednesday that he had talked to Fowler and he was en route to Florida to join Baltimore’s star-studded lineup. Again, people in the organization and in the clubhouse were excited about Fowler’s pending arrival with the plan for things to get underway with medical stuff on Thursday.

Obviously, that never happened. But it doesn’t look like it was bad info (widely reported and confirmed around the Internet on Tuesday), so much as it was just a bizarre last-minute turn of events. Publicly, both sides say nothing was ever official. And they’re right. It’s not the first time a last-minute switch has happened in baseball. Just another lesson that you can’t trust anything until the ink on the contract has dried.

Orioles EVP Dan Duquette held court with the media after the O’s unveiled Yovani Gallardo.

“We made a very competitive offer,” Duquette said. “The issue was the opt-out [Fowler got from Chicago]. The Orioles have made it clear that that type of deal wouldn’t really work for us. Based on that it sounds to me like he wanted to return to Chicago.”

Duquette was asked if he felt like he had a deal in place.

“We made a very competitive offer. There was not an agreement to terms because they kept insisting on an opt out,” he said. “I don’t see, club ownership, doesn’t see the value in that type of arrangement to the Orioles. If we are going to guarantee a contract, it should be a contract.”

Fowler, who confirmed he turned down a three-year, $33 million deal,  has a one-year deal with the Cubs that comes with an opt out. He will make $8 million this year with a $9 million option for 2017 and a $5 million buyout if the option is declined.

Duquette said he was aware the Cubs were still in play and found out Thursday that Fowler would no longer be an option. The O’s will now look to fill the right-field hole elsewhere.

“We will keep looking to build our team,” he said. ” I’m confident we will be able to find some players that want to come and contribute to the team. We still have all the ingredients, we have good defense. We have a good bullpen. We’ve upgraded our pitching staff. We got good leadership on the field and good power.”

 

 

Fowler signs…with the Cubs

SARASOTA, Fla. — Dexter Fowler pulled off quite the shocker on Thursday afternoon, signing a one-year deal with the Cubs on the day he was supposed to be in Florida getting ready to take his Orioles physical.

Word leaked out Tuesday night that the Orioles were finalizing a three-year, $33 million agreement with Fowler. O’s centerfielder Adam Jones said Wednesday that he had talked to Fowler and he was en route to Florida to join Baltimore’s star-studded lineup.

But that scenario never transpired as Fowler instead walked onto the Cubs’ field in Arizona with general manager Theo Epstein to announce he was staying with Chicago.

Fowler’s deal with Chicago will reportedly pay him $8 million and has a $9 million option for 2017, with a $5 million buyout if the option is declined.

“I don’t know where that came from — it didn’t come from our camp,” Fowler said of having an agreement in place with Baltimore. “It put me in a difficult situation. Theo, they made a good offer. You come back to what you know.”

Fowler’s camp wanted a shorter deal with an opt-out, which is something that Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has been hesitant to do. The organization was also wary of giving up its second Draft pick for what could’ve been just a one-year deal.

Fowler confirmed that he turned down a three-year offer elsewhere.

“My heart’s here,” he said. “I feel like the Cubs, they treated me with the utmost respect. With the offseason moves they made, you’ve got to go with what’s comfortable.”

Fowler was projected to play right field for the Orioles, who will now have some competition for that spot this spring among Nolan Reimold, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard, Jimmy Paredes and Mark Trumbo. The O’s will also keep their second pick in the Draft by not signing Fowler.

“He liked their offer I guess,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’d like to say I wasn’t [stunned]. I’m not.

“No I didn’t feel like it was [done]…[Fowler was] somebody we were talking to and, from what I was made aware of, it doesn’t surprise me.”

Gallardo official, Navarro DFAed

The Orioles officially announced that they’ve signed Yovani Gallardo to a two-year contract plus a team option with an official press conference at 1:45 p.m. later today. To make room on the 40-man roster, Efren Navarro has been designated for assignment.

The press conference will be carried live on Orioles.com as well on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network.

Wednesday notes

*Despite the rain, half of the Orioles pitchers still get their work in throwing to hitters in covered cages. A group headed over to the team’s Minor League facility in Twin Lakes to get their stuff done. The other half will throw on Thursday.

*Of the current group, the medical list is nearly non-existent. (Only Jeff Beliveau.) The big storyline, however, is regarding the medicals of pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t commenting on the status of Gallardo’s deal, or when things will reach a resolution. The medical issues are sensitive in the Orioles organization given what’s happened in the past. There’s also no talk about Dexter Fowler, who reached an agreement with the team last night, though the outfielder was traveling to Sarasota on Wednesday to start his physical process.

*Center fielder Adam Jones held court for a while today and most notably discussed the meeting he had with principle owner Peter Angelos this winter regarding keeping the core of the team together.

“You see the result of that,” Jones said.

Still, could Jones have envisioned such a record-breaking spending winter for the club?

“All you can do is ask, man. As a player, you want what you want. Trust me, there are tons of guys I want on my team. I love every guy on my team now. … Everybody always want more and more. It’s human nature. You want more. But my message to the front office was to keep the core intact,” Jones said. “We have a good core….I think fans need to understand, you just can’t go out and sign anybody you want. First and foremost, they have to play for Buck Showalter. That ain’t an easy guy to play for, so you don’t know who you’re getting. If you get a different type of player, Showalter might ship him on out. It’s a process.

“First of all, I’m glad we got O’Day and Davis back. Those were the two most important guys. I don’t know about the uncertainty about Gallardo, but I know we’ve got Fowler, so I think we’re just constantly improving and not just improving on the field, but mentally. Fowler and Gallardo, if that locks up , Fowler has seven years, Gallardo has eight years service time.  That adds a lot of experience. Both of them have been in the postseason, been in big games, big moments, so we want to have them do it with us.”

Jones also denied that not having a consistent right or left fielder last year forced him to cover more ground and play a little more banged up.

“I’ve hit many, many walls with  [Nick] Markakis looking at me, helping me up,” he said. “It’s just part of the game, man. The personnel doesn’t really matter. Some years I run into it more, some years I run into it less. Last year, the wall and I were very good friends. The wall, the ground, we were very good friends.”

I’ll have a full story with all of Jones’ quotes up shortly on Orioles.com.

*Every pitcher is expected to throw during one of the team’s two intrasquad games this weekend. Showalter said if they do slow-play certain guys, like Darren O’Day or Zach Britton, that won’t start until the actual spring games next week.

*While Fowler’s arrival will pretty much lock up the outfield, there’s still some intrigue over the bench sports. One potential is Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard, who I caught up with today.

Some Tuesday notes from camp

*Jeff Beliveau was the only guy to throw today and continues to be an interesting reliever to watch. Orioles manager Buck Showalter is a fan and said the key now is to take it slow with him, coming off of labrum surgery, and hope to have Beliveau as an option around May.

*Manny Machado said earlier on Tuesday that he’d like to play all 162 games again. That doesn’t seem likely to happen however.

“Cal [Ripken Jr.] is not in jeopardy,” Showalter said, adding that he hopes to rest Adam Jones more this year if possible.

*A nice silver lining to some of the long layoffs for Dylan Bundy? He’s developed an above-average change-up.

“He’s always had a decent one, but it’s really a weapon for him now,” Showalter said of Bundy. “He’s got the stuff one day to start, potentially to get back to that. That’s a long way away. Not a long way, but we got to get through step one first [of having him in the bullpen].”

*Showalter was asked about retaining guys like Chris Davis and Darren O’Day and said it was nice to not have to make any calls to other organizations to ask about potential new acquisitions.

“We knew physically in the physicals what we were going to find,” Showalter said before joking “And that’s not a segway.”

Obviously it was reference to the reported problems with Yovani Gallardo’s physical. (Read more on that here.) The Orioles will have their big team meeting tonight at 6 p.m., on the eve of the first full-squad workout, and with Gallardo’s deal still pending he won’t be involved. Maybe they’ll tape it for him.

*105.7 the Fan (CBS Radio) announced earlier today it will broadcast the following spring games:

Wednesday, March 2 vs. Atlanta Braves, 1:05 p.m.

Friday, March 4 at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:07 p.m.

Saturday, March 5 vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 7:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 6 at Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, March 8 vs. Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.

Monday, March 14 vs. Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.

Saturday, March 19 at Tampa Bay Rays, 1:05 p.m.

Sunday, March 20 vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday, March 23 at Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.

Wednesday, March 30 vs. Detroit Tigers, 6:05 p.m.

Thursday, March 31 vs. Atlanta Braves, 3:05 p.m.

Friday, April 1 at Philadelphia Phillies#, 6:05 p.m.

As a reminder, MASN will broadcast seven spring games on TV: March 8, 10, 16, 20, 25, 29 and 30.

Gallardo update

SARASOTA— The Orioles continued to go over the medicals of free agent starter Yovani Gallardo on Tuesday, though reportedly some concerned have surfaced.

There were some “questions” on the Gallardo physical according to a report from YahooSports on Tuesday afternoon, though it was unclear how that would change the status of the pending three-year agreement between the Orioles and the right-hander.

The Orioles, who agreed to terms on Saturday, started Gallardo’s physical upon his arrival on Monday and its not unusual for the the medicals to take multiple days. One of the things the team liked about the veteran Gallardo was that he didn’t have a litany of injuries over his career.

As of Tuesday afternoon there wasn’t enough information to suggest that the agreement was in jeopardy, with a team source saying only that the physical was still “in process.” Baltimore is notoriously tough with their physical process, having nixed deals with Grant Balfour and Nick Markakis over health concerns in recent years.

Machado on having ‘hope’ the Orioles will be able to keep him

Welcome to the first day of full squad reports. There are no bullpen sessions today for pitchers and the team’s customary “night out” tonight with manager Buck Showalter in advance of Wednesday’s first team workout .

The big news this morning was Manny Machado holding court, as the third baseman talked by his locker for about 10 minutes as he fielded questions from a media throng. I’ll have a full story on Machado up shortly on Orioles.com, but here’s one of the highlights.

Machado said there’s “hope” that he can remain an Oriole beyond his arbitration years after seeing Baltimore lock up Chris Davis with a seven-year, $161 million deal.

“I think it’s the biggest contract in Orioles history, so I know there’s hope there,” Machado said. “I know they got the money for it. I know Peter [Angelos] is trying to do everything possible to bring a ring here. So, whatever you got to do to bring a ring here. You got to lay it [all] on the field. And it just brings me hope that they are trying to keep everybody here and hopefully they come up with something and we can make something happen.”

In addition to Davis, the Orioles also re-signed Darren O’Day and had Matt Wieters accept a qualifying offer. The club’s current payroll is around $150 million (excluding players with under three years of service time) and rising with the addition of Yovani Gallardo —expected to be made official later this week— and the likely addition of outfielder Dexter Fowler.

“They’re trying to keep everybody here. That’s good for me. I hope they keep me here long-term,” Machado said. “But the case is you can’t sign everybody. You can’t bring everybody back. It’s just part of the business. …It’s part of the things you can do, the people you can bring back, the people  who you can’t, people who won’t be. But I think they’re making an effort of bringing everybody back and keeping the same clubhouse, the same core guys coming in, it’s all about camaraderie. You put great people in the clubhouse, I think the clubhouse will be great. A lot of things will flow a lot easier. Things will go great out on the field. It just makes a lot of things easier. I think we have one of the best clubhouses in the game. I’m just fortunate to be a part of it and hopefully I’m here for a long time.”

Gallardo update and more

*Yovani Gallardo is slated to arrive in Sarasota in about an hour to begin his physical. He could be out on the field as early as Tuesday, though it could take another day. Just depends on how much ground the Orioles can cover. They should know around 7 or 8 p.m. tonight if they need another day or not. As I keep mentioning, they will have to make a corresponding 40-man roster move for Gallardo.

*The Orioles will have a pair of intrasquad games on Feb. 27 at 11 am (5 innings) and Feb. 28 (7 innings), both of which are at Ed Smith Stadium. They will not be open to the public. There will be a regular workout on Feb. 29.

*Both Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey were among the group to throw bullpens on Monday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked if he’s at the point now where he forgets that the pair of top pitching prospects are both coming off injury.

“No, I just don’t talk about it. I don’t tell them,” Showalter said. “You don’t get bogged down on it. Dylan was pretty good today. That was encouraging. You can tell by his face. Both of these guys are really looking forward to being just another guy instead of a guy on rehab. Just about everybody here has had similar issues in their pitching career. Some of it’s a distant memory. Some of it is not.”

Bundy was throwing on the string mound, which is a useful drill that has two pieces of string across the plate. It helps with command and, perhaps most notably, was used by Zach Britton the spring before he became closer.

“You don’t make them [throw to the strings],” Showalter said. “Most of them are because they want to. The option is given to all of them.”

*Showalter said he didn’t expect any issues in reporting in advance of Tuesday’s full squad report date. The only position players who aren’t accounted for just yet are Manny Machado and OFer Alfredo Marte.

 

*Rule 5 Draft pick Joey Rickard is in camp and it could be harder to keep him this year with Bundy out of Minor League options and the team trying to find a roster spot for him.

“There’s a spot potentially,” Showalter said. “I wouldn’t close that door. See what happens in the next couple days. I know Dan and I have been beating around some things. I know Dan’s gathering opinions on our roster and the potentials, even if we have to do another one.”

“You can’t do anything with him until the 14th [of March].”

Some Monday morning notes

*No sign of Yovani Gallardo in the clubhouse just yet, but the newest Oriole is expected to be at the Ed Smith Stadium complex later today to get his physical.

*Mark Trumbo arrived a few days ago and said he hasn’t had a problem adjusting to his new team. With the additions made after Trumbo –most notably Chris Davis– the O’s lineup should be a serious display of power.

“I guess any time you have a lineup that stretches that deep, it creates real headaches for opposing pitchers,” said Trumbo, who was acquired from the Seattle Mariners over the winter. “I’ve talked to a few guys around the game, especially a few guys who play in the AL East, and I think already they say this team already is one of the toughest, if not the toughest to face.

“And then you see some more pieces come into play and it just becomes that much more difficult…especially the power component. It’s one thing to be good hitters. It’s another to have a constant threat to put balls in the seats up and down your lineup. You really have to tiptoe facing a team as deep as this one.”

*Pitcher Todd Redmond has reported after a whirlwind weekend that included the birth of his first child with wife, Leigh Anne, on Friday.

The couple who live on the other side of Florida, welcomed a baby boy named Wyatt and an understandably tired Redmond reported to start his camp several days later.

“[Wyatt] was actually due on this past Monday before Spring Training,” said Redmond, who laughed when a reporter mentioned how inconvenient the baby’s later arrival was.

“That’s what I said. I was like why don’t you just come Monday it will be whole lot easier for me,” Redmond joked. “We planned on inducing on Thursday and then the hospital was packed and they called my wife and said, ‘OK, you are coming in later instead of at noon.’ So it took a little longer. But everything went well and [we] got out of the hospital yesterday.”

Redmond, who came over to Sarasota  last week to talk to manager Buck Showalter, will throw a bullpen later today.

*Today’s workout will be quick as the team is heading to a charity golf tournament, the 6th Annual OriolesREACH Birdland Golf Classic, benefiting the Miracle League of Manasota.

 

A few more notes

*Yovani Gallardo is expected to arrive in camp on Monday to begin taking his physical.  When the agreement is announced, potentially midweek, the Orioles will have to make a corresponding 40-man roster move. Manager Buck Showalter said it doesn’t necessarily have to be a pitcher that comes off the roster.

“I don’t think it means it’s going to be a pitcher. Who knows?,” Showalter said. “We could be having the same thing again.”

Of course that’s a hint about the Orioles pursuit of outfielder Dexter Fowler.

*Non-roster pitcher Todd Redmond is still not in camp, due to a personal matter, and Showalter said that he expected the club to touch base with him at some point today to find out the plan.

*There will be a much shorter day on Monday, though the scheduled half of the pitching staff will throw their bullpen. A good portion of the Orioles will be participating in the team’s charity golf outing in the afternoon.

*Showalter said he doesn’t think a rotation of just right-handed pitchers is a problem.

“All right-handed starters in the big leagues better be able to defend themselves against left-handed hitters. Sometimes that separates them from being a starter or a reliever. And all left-handed have to be able to defend themselves against right-handers,” he said. “Because the lineups up here, you’ll see a lineup down in Triple-A that [lefty] Chris Lee will face and it’ll have six left-handed hitters. That’s not going to happen in the big leagues. You got to ask yourself whats he going to do to get them out? That part of it doesn’t really other me. I’ve never really understood i have to have this many left-handed hitters in it. Because it does what? What does it do for you? If its your ballpark that’s one thing…our park is pretty [even].

The right-left stuff, I really mean that, not because we potentially don’t have one. I just want good starters. If they are right-handed so be it.”

The thought is that having a lefty long man, like TJ McFarland, would help balance out that rotation as well, though Showalter wouldn’t commit to that idea fully so early in camp.

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