The Baltimore Orioles have been repeatedly speculated to be eyeing free-agent pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Now, according to MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko, it seems that the O's are back at it again.
Pitchers and catchers are set to report to spring training in less than two weeks and the Orioles, after acquiring pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne from the Padres, remain interested in the 29-year-old fellow righty even though signing him would cost them the No. 14 draft pick along with bonus-pool money.
The pros of signing Gallardo include the need to get an established starter for a rotation that has not adequately replaced left-hander Wei-Yin Chen, Kubatko explained. The Mexican pitcher has made 30 or more starts in seven consecutive seasons and has gone 102-75 with a 3.66 ERA in the past nine years. However, the cons include giving up the Orioles' pick, which is currently the 14th for a team who is desperate to stock its farm system with young arms.
This development comes in contrast to what general manager Dan Duquette has told MLB Network Radio late last month. Back then, he downplayed a pursuit of Gallardo and said, "The question for us is, 'Are we willing to give up our first-round pick?' and so far that answer has been no... I think we're going to hang onto that pick."
In his nine-year major league career, he started out with the Milwaukee Brewers where he made 247 appearances, 244 of which were starts.The right-hand pitcher's ERA fell from 3.51 in 192 1/3 innings with the Brewers to 3.42 in 184 1/3 innings with the Rangers.
Nonetheless, his WHIP improved from 1.295 to 1.416 and his strikeouts per nine innings dropped to a career-low 5.9. Should Baltimore signed Gallardo to a one-year contract, they could make him a qualifying offer in the next offseason where the player could receive a compensation pick if he signed with another club, Fox Sports pointed out.
In more Orioles lineup updates, the team has also crossed off another name on it list of arbitration eligible players, now that closer Zach Britton have agreed to a deal for 2016 to skip arbitration. They came up with a one-year deal worth $6.75 million, which is the midpoint where the two sides' salary figures met. The pitcher initially filed at $7.9 million and the club countered with a $5.6 million offer.
Britton enjoyed another great season with the O's in 2015 and keeping him as a pitcher is seen as a good move. He has pitched in five seasons in the big leagues, all with the Baltimore Orioles. Over the past two seasons, he pitched a personal record-high of 71 and 64 games, respectively. In the three previous seasons, he had a 4.61 earned run average or higher. Formerly a starter, the 28-year-old pitcher is 25-20 with 73 saves and a 3.70 ERA in his five-year pro career.