Orioles Are Retooling

The Orioles have been under the radar since they did not make any significant moves at the Winter Meetings this year. Recently, Dan Duquette and company have been bringing in some players; while Duquette seems to be keeping to his word about improving the Orioles internationally. Many of the big ticket free agents have signed, but Duquette made it pretty clear that we would not be improving the team much through big free agency contracts.

On the last day of the Winter Meetings, teams participate in the Rule 5 Draft, in which “Major league teams must protect players on their 40-man rosters within three or four years of their original signing. Those left unprotected are available to other teams as Rule 5 picks.” (Alan Schwarz, Baseball America)

Through this process, the Orioles selected Ryan Flaherty, an infielder, from the Chicago Cubs organization with the number 4 pick overall. From Baseball America, “Each Rule 5 pick must be kept in the major leagues the entire following season or be offered back to his former team for half of the $50,000 selection price.”

Dan Duquette was quoted saying, “Ryan is a high Draft pick from an excellent college program, and we really like his bat. He has a real chance to contribute at the Major League level this season.”

Two other players that the Orioles selected were lefty pitcher Andrew Loomis from the Phillies and infielder Matt Sweeney from Tampa Bay. Sweeney is a local, haling from Gaithersburg, MD. (Orioles.com)

On the final day of the meetings, the Orioles did pull the trigger on a trade; acquiring pitcher Dana Eveland from the Dodgers, in exchange for outfielder, Tyler Henson, and left-handed pitcher, Jarret Martin. This was no high profile trade, but Eveland brings depth to the pitching staff. He has major league experience, having pitcher for 6 teams in his career. Eveland’s best year came in 2008 with the Oakland Athletics. He set a career high with 168.0 innings pitched with 29 starts that year. His ERA and WHIP were higher than you would like, plus this was in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. That ballpark is more than serviceable to pitchers because of the huge foul territory. Eveland owns a career record of 19-24. (Baseball Reference)

In another move, that may not have surprised very many, the Orioles chose to non-tender OF/DH/1B Luke Scott. Scott spent the better part of 2011 on the disabled list due to shoulder pain. Other players that the Orioles declined to offer contracts to by the deadline were pitchers Jo-Jo Reyes and Willie Eyre. According to Orioles.com, “Eyre was designated for assignment to make room for Dana Eveland on the team’s 40-man roster.”

Luke Scott has a chance to stay here in Baltimore, but his surgery plus his $6.4 million salary caused him to be non-tendered. Scott provided power, although strikeout numbers were high and average was a bit low. He was also a very streaky hitter, with limited defensive value. I think the Orioles would be better moving forward without Scott and trying to field a more athletic team.

The Orioles more recently broke ground in Japan once again, signing our second Japanese pitcher, Tsuyoshi Wada. It’s a two-year contract worth $8.15 million. There is also a club option for 2014, valued at $5 million. The left-hander is 30 years old. “Wada posted a 16-5 record with a 1.53 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2011.” (Orioles.com)

It appears that Wada will indeed be slotted in the rotation, providing another veteran to pair alongside Jeremy Guthrie.

“Dan Duquette — who likened Wada’s pitching style to former Orioles arm Scott McGregor — mentioned several times that the lefty is a “winning pitcher.” (Orioles.com)

Last, but certainly not least, is the most recent of the Orioles moves. Baltimore retooled in the outfield, following the loss of Luke Scott. The O’s inked free agent speedster Endy Chavez to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

“The expectation is that the left-handed hitter will serve as a platoon in left field with Nolan Reimold.” (Orioles.com)

Chavez, who was also looked at by the Mets, “Has experience at all three outfield positions and played 66 games in center field last season.” (MLB Trade Rumors)

At 33 years old, Chavez is no longer a full-time player, but serves as a great spot starter or defensive replacement. He still provides speed on the basepaths, which is something the Orioles have lacked in years past.

There are still more moves to be made for the O’s this offseason. I have a feeling that they are not done with international signings. Keep it tuned in here at the MSB for Orioles updates as the news breaks.

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Brian Hradsky

The owner of MSB, I created this website while in college and it has never died.

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