Obviously the buzz in this morning’s clubhouse was about the Orioles agreeing to terms on a three-year contract –plus an option for 2019– with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. No sign of him just yet, with a physical likely Monday and possibly a presser mid-week.
I’ll have a full story up later on Orioles.com, but here is some of the chatter…
SS J.J. Hardy, who played three seasons with Gallardo in Milwaukee…
[on having Gallardo as a teammate]
“He’s an awesome guy. Good pitcher. Obviously, you guys can see his numbers. He’s only had one losing season in, what is it, nine years? Great guy, great teammate. He’ll fit right in.”
[on the front office’s late additions]
“It’s letting all of us know that the front office is all in too. Everybody is all-in, so it’s good. It’s good to be player here. That’s why I wanted to stay back, because I felt they were going to do everything they possibly could to make this team as good as possible and that’s what they’re doing.”
[on adding an established arm]
“It’s great. I think he’ll fit right in with everybody and it’s nice to just have another arm. We have a lot of good arms and everybody is capable of being really good and he’ll be a great addition.”
[On Gallardo’s offensive abilities]
“Yeah, He can hit. I remember, I think it was against San Francisco, he threw a shutout and hit a solo homer to win the game.”
RHP Ubaldo Jimenez, who played again Gallardo in the National League
[on the move]
“We will receive him with happiness. I’ve known him since, I played against him in Triple-A and in the Majors. So I know him a little bit. He’s a great guy, a great competitor. He’s going to go out there and try to do everything to win his game. Especially if we play against the National League, they bette be careful because he can make his own runs.”
[on what this says about the organization]
“They want to win, they aren’t waiting around to have a great team to give us an opportunity to be better and go after winning the championship.”
[on helping Gallardo fit in]
“Yeah, sure, I’ll do everything possible to make him feel comfortable. I know him a little bit. Once you get into the clubhouse and know someone it makes it easier because you aren’t going to be so tight in the clubhouse.”
RHP Chris Tillman
[on the move]
“I don’t know a lot but i know he does the job and does the job well. We’ve got a couple guys who have been around him and I’ve heard nothing but great things. It’s exciting it really is. I found out from other players who texted me. I think they’re excited, we are all excited.”
[on having another veteran]
“I dont see why it wouldn’t help. Anytime you have those guys around its a guy thing. I think we saw that with [Jason] Hammel and Ubaldo and prior to that, [Kevin] Millwood.”
RHP Kevin Gausman
[on adding a veteran arm]
“I think his last seven seasons, I think he’s thrown at least 190 innings, or something like that. To have a guy who’s been there and done that season after season is only going to be make us better. I think it makes our rotation a lot better. It also gives us a bunch of different looks. He’s a really over-the-top guy, arm angle-wise, good breaking ball. I know he has a real good fastball. I know it will play well in Camden Yards. I think someone told me his splits, American League and National League are really good. Anytime a guy can pitch well in the American League, he’s done it before, so we’re looking forward to him doing it again.”
[on if he’s surprised by the club’s aggressiveness]
“Yeah, it’s been awesome. I think we’re talking about going and getting another guy right now, too. It shows the last couple of years they’ve been liking having the fan base back. It’s weird because for now this is kind of all I’ve known, is us being really good, so I’ve been spoiled, I guess.”
[on having a rotation with five right-handers]
“I wouldn’t say it’s unusual. I would say you see it much more nowadays. Obviously, it’s more rare to see all lefties. I think the Dodgers have all left-handed starters, I believe, but yeah, obviously it’s a different look, but we have a lot of left-handed weapons coming out of the pen. If you think about Matusz and Britton and T.J., those guys are all very good left-handed sinkerballers. It’s kind of a different look, obviously. I think picking him up makes the team a lot better.”
C Matt Wieters
“He’s proven year in and year out he’s going to be able to compete and give you a chance to win games. From watching from the other side, watching him on the mound, I love the guy’s mentality on the mound and how he goes after it. He’s as consistent a starter as there’s been. Not only does it help our staff because he’s a great pitcher, it also makes the staff that much deeper and everybody feed off each other.”
[On if this feels like 2014 with the late signings]
“I think it says a lot about the commitment to winning. We were able to get a lot of guys back from last year’s team who we didn’t know would be back and to be able to add on top of that definitely lets you know that ownership is ready to win now, which is a great feeling being in the clubhouse. As far as 2014 and this year, every year kind of feels a little bit different. I feel like those signings were more out of the blue and we weren’t really hearing about it a lot, as opposed to Yovani and the outfielder we’ve been hearing about for the last two or three weeks, it seems like. Every year kind of feels a little bit different, so I don’t really see the comparisons. You really can’t compare years until the year’s over anyway.”
[on predictions that the Os will finish last]
“I’ve learned to kind of stay away from reading a lot of stuff early in the offseason because unless you decide to take the qualifying offer, a lot of things take place a lot later in the offseason. What gets written, we can only function once a guy gets in this clubhouse. As soon as somebody gets in this clubhouse, we’re going to welcome him and see how we can help him and he can help us win games.”
[on concerns about an-all right-handed rotation]
“For me as a catcher, if you can get guys out, I don’t care whether you throw right handed or left handed or you kick it up there with your foot. If you can get guys out, we’ll put you on the mound.”
I’ll have a full story coming shortly on Orioles.com, but in the meantime here are the quick hits of what Dan Duquette said with the media just now…
On adding any new free agents…
“We’re still trying to add to our team and we have some more work to do. We’re still working on a couple of things that could help the ballclub.”
“It’s really hard to handicap whether you’re going to get a deal completed or not. So I try not to. Just keep working and trying to find the right fit for the team.”
While the O’s were thought at one point to be closing in on adding Yovani Gallardo to the rotation, there hasn’t been much momentum on that front over the past few days. Duquette declined to address if the organization was every close to a deal with Gallardo, simply reiterating that there’s “a lot more work to do” to get the current team ready for the season.
Right now, the O’s hold the 14th overall pick in this year’s Draft and signing Gallardo —who turned down the qualifying offer with the Rangers— would require them to forfeit that to Texas. That’s always a factor in negotiations and Duquette said it’s no different this spring.
“That’s part of the consideration in the situations with the free agents that require compensation. If the club is going to participate in that market, they have to take into account the value of the pick, the current value and the potential future value of the pick,” he said. “That’s part of our consideration in each of these instances for compensation free agents. It’s a system that’s been in place for a couple of years, but there seems to be certain players in the market where it affects their contract.”
Duquette also said that the club has not yet seen Tim Lincecum throw. Baltimore is rumored to have strong interest in the bounce back candidate, though Duquette would only said he’s looking to add to the rotation.
Orioles top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy mentioned on Friday that —should he make the team’s Opening Day roster in the bullpen— he’ll rely on some veteran help to mentor him.
Bundy’s first taste of being mentored, back in September 2012 when he made his debut, was pretty memorable to setup man Darren O’Day.
“The phone rang and Billy Castro was the bullpen coach at the time and he said, ‘Bundy it’s for you!’’ And [Bundy is] wearing his sunglasses at the time and he jumps up and goes, ‘What do I do?’ [We said] ‘You warm up.’ He jumps up on the mound, and I was like ‘Take you sunglasses off, too,’” O’Day said, laughing. “We got some work to do.”
“We will help him out for sure. He’s obviously talented. I still remember the first bullpen I saw him throw. The quality and consistency of four pitches was incredible to stand behind and watch for a kid that young. He’s had a tough couple years with injuries and that can be frustrating for anybody, you get down on yourself so I think he’s got a time here where he’s got to show what he can do and we will help him as much as we can.”
If healthy, Bundy — who is out of Minor League options— is projected to head north with the team, which means the rookie will likely be the designated guy carrying all the relief corps snacks out to the bullpen.
“He’ll look great. I was in the airport the other day and they had some really nice Hello Kitty bags,” O’Day said. “So if Bundy, is the guy with the bags, we might have to make it more pink.”
O’Day also talked a little bit about staying with the Orioles and was asked if he would have believed someone if they said that Chris Davis, Matt Wieters and himself would all be back in 2016.
“Frankly, no. I’d be surprised,” he said. “There’s quality players and quality men. There’s a lot to like about this team and the players they’ve assembled, so it is surprising a little bit, but obviously it’s a really nice pleasant surprise. Personally, I couldn’t be happier to be back, and I hope I speak for the other guys.”
“There are a few different ways to improve as an organization, as a team, to commit to winning. Whether it be through the draft or through trades or through signing free agents. So I think they showed a commitment to winning, really, to putting a good team on the field by signing some of these guys who were pretty expensive. It’s really challenging to build a team on a low-dollar budget to win games, so to play at this level, you’ve got to spend some money. Our team did. They’re always pretty creative with these late-season signings. We had some pretty good ones a couple years ago, so we’ll see if they can pull some magic again.”
The Orioles are once again predicted to finish last in a lot of projections and it doesn’t seem to bother them.
“Yeah, you know, it’s motivation. As a logical person, I understand that. I think it’s going to be the most competitive league in baseball, and to play these other heavyweight teams, what is it 19 times? It’s tough. Somebody’s got to finish fourth or fifth. I don’t think it’s going to be us. But they’ve got to pick somebody. And if you look at rosters and think you know everything maybe you pick some other teams. But I would never count us out, I think we’ve shown that over the past four years that we play kind of a different brand of baseball that you cant quantify. Maybe steal some wins. But it’s going to be a good year in the AL East.”
A pretty quiet day, as guys reported and some took part in informal workouts.
*There’s always lots of new looks (check out Chris Tillman’s full beard on Facebook) as players start to roll in. Tillman has slimmed down a little from last spring and apparently is now sporting a six-pack. Miguel Gonzalez, who joked he’s growing out his hair to replicate the 2012 version of Gonzalez, has added about six pounds of “good weight” as he tries to bounce back from injury this season.
*On the team’s overall offseason, manager Buck Showalter mentioned the importance of retaining free agents Chris Davis, Darren O’Day and Matt Wieters. He also reiterated that the Orioles offseason might not be over. “There’s a chance we could be in this [press] room again doing something else,” Showalter said. “If we don’t, that’s OK to. It’s not a topic of conversation out there. it really isn’t. players, coaches, it’s hardly brought up. Mostly because I don’t know.”
*There were no issues with guys reporting as of Thursday afternoon and the O’s will hold their first practice after pitchers and catchers physicals on Friday morning.
“It’s as thorough a physical as I’ve ever been around,” Showalter said. “You come through that, you should feel pretty good about where you are.”
*Showalter met yesterday with the team’s trainers and said it was the shortest medical discussion before a Spring Training in recent memory. Dylan Bundy was among those out for an informal workout on Thursday, as the O’s righty —and bullpen hopeful— played some catch. Bundy will be a full-go in camp and Showalter said Jeff Beliveau (coming off labrum surgery) is the only guy who could be on a restricted schedule.
*Asked his initial impression of South Korean outfielder Hyun soo Kim, Showalter said:
“There’s some things we can learn from him. Initially we are going to adjust to him instead of him adjusting to much. Just being around him from a personality standpoint, I don’t want him to try too hard to fit in. I want him to hit, I want him to play. I want him to contribute.”
*Early position players on Thursday included: Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Steve Tolleson, Christian Walker, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, LJ Hoes and Xavier Avery. Showalter doesn’t plan on having a talk with the players on Friday and will address the whole team before their first workout on Tuesday.
Greetings from Sarasota, where the Orioles will open Spring Training with their first workout for pitchers and catchers tomorrow. There’s a large group of guys here already, probably close to 30 total, and a good portion of position players here early.
*Among them is new Orioles outfielder Hyun-Soo Kim —who has been in the United States since January 23—as he starts the process of getting acclimated to Major League Baseball. Asked if he was nervous while standing in front of a large media scrum, Kim quipped: “a lot” and made several jokes with interpreter Danny Lee by his side.
The 28-year-old Kim, signed to a two-year, $7-million contract this offseason, is projected to be the O’s starting left fielder and the left-handed bat brings an impressive resume from the Korean Baseball Organization. But the transition to MLB is still a big one and Kim spent the first two weeks in the country working with vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson on his conditioning before arriving in Florida a week ago.
“[It helped] very much,” Kim, speaking through Lee, said of his first taste of how the O’s do things. “Working with Brady in California, the way the procedures of the workouts here about 90 percent of the things [I’m doing in Spring Training] are about what I did with Brady. About 10 percent of the things additionally I did here. So it was very easy to adapt.”
I’ll have more from Kim shortly on Orioles.com
*Some other position players I saw: J.J. Hardy, Ryan Flaherty, Steve Tolleson, Christian Walker, Dariel Alvarez, Henry Urrutia, LJ Hoes, Xavier Avery.
The full list is up on Orioles.com, but here’s the team release…
Chris Davis looked at the brand-new jersey he was about to put one arm through — orange and white with Orioles scrawled on the front— and flashed an ear-to-ear grin.
“Looks familiar,” Davis joked.
It will for quite some time. The Orioles announced officially Thursday that they’ve signed Davis to a club-record seven-year, $161 million contract, keeping the popular slugger hitting at Camden Yards for the foreseeable future.
“Deep within me somewhere [I felt like] there was a little more left in the tank,” Davis said of his final game at Camden Yards last season, “a little more left to be seen.”
Davis, 29, was named the Most Valuable Oriole last season after hitting a Major League-leading 47 home runs. He is the only player in Orioles history to have more than one 40-plus-homer season. Often the subject of thunderous applause, Davis met some backlash this winter when word leaked out that his agent, Scott Boras, had refused the O’s $154 million offer.
Boras, who flew to Baltimore early in the offseason to state his intent, spoke again with principle owner Peter Angelos on Friday night and the two sides reached an agreement that leaked out to the press early Saturday morning.
“It was about crossing the last bridge if you will,” Boras said of negotiations, in which he complimented executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette’s efforts. “Probably both sides knew what was going to happen in the end.”
Duquette— and ownership— had made bringing back Davis his primary goal this winter and mentioned the familiarity with him as a person and player as a big reason the organization was able to justify such a commitment.
“I don’t know how many places I went this year where people said, ‘You’ve got to sign Chris Davis.’,” Duquette said. “So I know he’s got a lot of fans in Baltimore that follow the team and love to see his prodigious home runs.”
“It gives me great comfort that I know Chris and have a lot of confidence in Chris and have seen him perform, and the way that he works and provides leadership in the community.
We’re just so happy to have him returning to do his job for the Orioles for many, many years.”
Davis, who admitted free agency was “a little more stressful” than he thought, tried to stay busy and away from the rumor mill. He was impressed when Angelos reached out to him at the beginning of the winter and that the Orioles never wavered in their interest.
As for the pressure to live up to a contract that will pay him $17 million annually, with $42 million deferred, Davis said: “I hope there is. I hope there are expectations. I’ve always kind of thought of pressure as something that you really inflict on yourself. As a professional athlete, really a professional in anything that you do, you’re going to expect yourself to be great and you’re going to hold yourself to high standards. I’m happy to be here for the next seven years and be in a place where I’ve had success in the past and we’ve had success as a team in the past. And I think these next few years are going to be a lot of fun and hopefully very successful years.”
The full story on Davis, who was accompanied by his wife, Jill, and their daughter, will be available on Orioles.com shortly.
Duquette said the Orioles will now turn their attention toward pitching as they try to add to their rotation. “We’ve found some pitching we like just not at the prices we like,” Duquette said. “It’s been a very, very expensive market.”
“There are some pitchers out there that we like and we’ve talked to some other teams about [trades]. The problem is there’s more teams chasing fewer pitchers. There’s not enough to go around. That’s an age-old problem and it was very acute this winter.”
Here’s more Boras..
Were you surprised by the initial offer’s size?
“Offers that go public and all the other offers you receive, you have a pretty special ballplayer so the category of where teams are making offers are certainly, there’s a historic value to it. There are a number of players that are in that market, so to answer your question, I’ve done this a long time, no. It wasn’t surprising at all. The problem is things get portrayed in the paper that aren’t quite accurate, and when you’re finalizing deals… sometimes, deals are interesting because sometimes, they don’t happen then all of a sudden they happen with a flurry. And then sometimes, you get 90 percent of the way and it takes a long time to get to the last portion.
Each negotiation has its own agenda and spirit, but the one thing that I did in this negotiation is I flew out here and met with Peter and Dan and let them know that Chris and I had talked, and this ballpark and this community, I wanted him to know. I said, “I don’t do this very often. It’s not exactly a great free agent tactic to fly here and meet with an owner and let him know that we’re very interested in re-signing here. We did at the forefront of free agency. sometimes, it’s good for a lawyer to know from another lawyer, what the real intent of free agency is. Being able to have that meeting, I think, set in motion the clear intentions of Peter and Dan. I was able to communicate that to Chris. It allowed us in our free agent direction to look at this deal in a little bit different way.”
What got this deal done?
“These deals are complicated because you’re talking about power. There’s very little power in the game. we’ve had eight pitchers sign five-or-more-year contracts in this market. That’s unheard of. The demand of pitching quelled the market in offensive power, because the teams were so focused. So many teams needed pitching, and needed offense, but the competitiveness for the pitching took a focus that really—I’m not saying teams didn’t express interest. They kept saying, I’ve got to get something done, and it was not something that had to do with the category of an offensive player. It had to do with a pitcher. So that part, for me, and I’ve represented three of the starters in this market, it really represented an interesting, almost… it was like one side of the road was working and the other was watching. But it wasn’t about value. It was about owners and general managers realizing they had to build their team first in that category before they could move to the other side.”
Was there open communication even after the first offer was “pulled”?
“The line of communication, Dan and I talk a lot in this process, so it was something where we had to cross some bridges and I had to figure some things out about the structure. These things have complicated dynamics to them when you’re talking about how the economics work, how the deferrals work, all those things. You have to really map that through. Really, again, it was more about the financial, economic last bridge, if you will, moreso than the mutual intent of what probably both sides knew what was going to happen in the end.”
Any other serious suitors?
“You know, when you go to a wedding, you never talk about your girlfriends. So the idea is, look, Chris Davis, there’s only one other man I know in recent time who has hit over 45 home runs in a five-year period twice, and he did pretty well in his career too. These are rare guys. I think the key part was that everyone knew that in this ballpark, Chris Davis, it was built for Chris Davis. This is where he can execute and be most effective, and I think when you work for players and you do things, one of the messages you want to tell them is that their comfort and what they do, you want them to be successful and you want them to execute. That was always in the back of my mind in the advise of Chris and what we’ve done. It was really about getting to an economic place where we felt it was within reason in comparison to what we knew was available elsewhere.
On the contract’s deferrals…
“Sometimes in these deals, in today’s times with interest rates and what you’re doing, we have a Maryland tax statute that helps us. when I did Scherzer’s contract, I’ve become a tax attorney. You figure these things out about how you can do something that’s beneficial for the team and do something that’s beneficial to the player, because Chris lives in Texas where they have zero interest tax. And then you look at, modernly, what the net present value of these contracts are when you go through them and how you evaluate it. They are complicated. They do take time. You are moving money around, you’re always negotiating terms and years and how much of the contract is front-loaded. This contract is really not backloaded, a lot of contracts are backloaded and there’s less deferral. This contract, it’s not backloaded. There’s a little more deferral. In each, when you go to work out what the true numbers are, it takes time to evaluate.”
BALTIMORE— The Orioles officially announced the signing of Chris Davis to a seven-year, club record $161 million contract on Thursday, with plans for an official press conference slated at 7 p.m. ET. The presser will be available live on Orioles.com as well as on MASN and 105.7 The Fan.
Davis, who flew into Baltimore earlier this week, agreed to terms over the weekend and spent the better portion of the past two days going through a physical.
The addition of Davis gives the Orioles a powerful, left-handed middle-of-the-lineup bat they need along with solid first base defense and an excellent clubhouse presence. The outgoing Davis was well-liked —with several teammates voicing the need to keep him at the end of last season— and joins Matt Wieters and Darren O’Day as free agents to stay in Baltimore.
Davis, 29, was named the Most Valuable Oriole last season after hitting a League-leading 47 home runs. He is the only player in Orioles history to have more than one 40-plus home run season.
With the Baltimore/DC area projected to be hit hard by Winter Storm Jonas starting on Friday, the Orioles were able to unveil Davis before the weather became an issue.
Sources told MLB.com Friday that Yoenis Cespedes believed to be weighing 5/$90m contract with a possible option offer from O’s vs. a one-year deal with Mets and become a free agent again.
More on Orioles.com and MLB.com.