Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked just before noon Tuesday at the team's pitching minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., if he thought it was odd that none of the club’s six free agents had actually signed with other teams.
“I bet that changes,” Showalter said. “What do you think?”
About an hour later, it did. According to multiple reports, the Miami Marlins came to terms with left-hander Wei-Yin Chen on a five-year contract worth around $80 million, plus a sixth-year vesting option at about $16 million and a contract opt-out after two seasons. Not long after, outfielder Gerardo Parra reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Colorado Rockies.
The reported terms for Chen, which are agreed to but are subject to passing a physical, represent a huge jump in the contract that brought the 30-year-old Taiwanese pitcher to Baltimore. His initial contract, a three-year deal with a fourth-year option that paid him about $15.5 million, was a bargain.
Chen was the Orioles’ most consistent starter over the past two years. In 2015, he pitched 191 1/3 innings with a 3.34 ERA. Over four seasons with the Orioles, he was 46-32 with a 3.72 ERA, but the Orioles didn't seem to show much interest in bringing him back.
“He did a good job for us,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “I’m glad we signed him when we did.”
Because Chen declined a qualifying offer that would have kept him in Baltimore one more season for $15.8 million, the Orioles get a compensatory pick in this year’s draft between the first and second rounds.
FoxSports.com first reported the Chen agreement, then moments later, a Venezuelan newspaper reporter tweeted that Parra had agreed to a deal with the Rockies. Parra’s contract is worth $27.5 million, according to reports.
Parra was in the middle of a career year with the Milwaukee Brewers, batting .328/.369/.517 and nearing his career high with nine home runs in 100 games, when the Orioles sent right-hander Zach Davies the other way to acquire him at the nonwaiver trade deadline on July 31.
Parra’s performance in Baltimore didn’t do much to raise the quality of the Orioles’ corner-outfield play , a position where they struggled all year. Parra hit .237/.268/.357 with five home runs in 55 games with the Orioles, and had just seven extra-base hits in September and October as the team slunk to an 81-81 record.
Parra joins a Rockies team that also features fellow Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, and he tweeted a picture of the two playing together in the World Baseball Classic shortly after the news broke.
With reliever Darren O’Day re-signed to a four-year, $31 million contract and catcher Matt Wieters accepting a $15.8 million qualifying offer this offseason, Tuesday’s signings remove all but two of the Orioles’ free agents from the market.
First baseman Chris Davis and outfielder Steve Pearce are the only two free agents from the Orioles’ 2015 roster remaining without teams for 2016.
Sun columnist Peter Schmuck contributed to this article.