SARASOTA, FLA. — Should we still expect to see right-hander Yovani Gallardo in an Orioles uniform over the next few days? And with spring training opening this week, is a deadline to consummate a deal approaching?
There didn't appear to be much progress on Tuesday, and while sides are still optimistic a deal will get done, they're running out of time for Gallardo to report along with other pitchers and catchers on Thursday.
No one should be alarmed. Two years ago, right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez signed six days after pitchers and catchers reported, and outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz signed six days after the full squad reported. We've written many times about how late February is Dan Duquette's prime season for wheeling and dealing.
Gallardo is eager to get into a camp, but we know these deals sometimes take time. Patience is important. Right now, it appears that the ball is in the Orioles' court.
My big question is whether the Orioles have truly come to peace with losing their first round draft pick, the 14th overall, in order to sign Gallardo. We will probably only find the answer to that when Gallardo officially signs, whether that is with the Orioles or elsewhere.
Another day, another preseason prediction prognosticating a last-place finish for the Orioles in 2016.
Baseball Prospectus' well-known PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), a computer-based system that uses past seasons to project a players future performance, predicted the Orioles would finish 72-90 this season, the only team in the AL East to have a losing record.
It actually projects the Orioles to have the worst record in the American League, and the third-worst in baseball behind the Philadelphia Phillies (65-97) and Atlanta Braves (68-94).
PECOTA predicted the Tampa Bay Rays to win the AL East with the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays taking the two wild-card spots. It also predicts a dramatic fall from the reigning World Series champion Kansas City Royal, projecting a 76-86 record.
According to the projections, the Orioles will allow a majors-worst 786 runs (an average of 4.85 a game) in 2016. While most of that is attributed to the team's rotation, PECOTA also predicts a defensive decline with a minus-19.1 FRAA (Fielding Runs Above Average) metric.
The spending pools for this year's draft and international free agents became public late Tuesday night – released by Baseball America – and the Orioles' draft pool is $10,456,900, the sixth-highest in baseball.
It makes sense because the Orioles currently own six picks in the first 100 selections. That number can obviously change if the Orioles sign Gallardo or Dexter Fowler, who would require forfeiting draft picks to sign.
A team's draft pool is comprised of the assigned bonus slot designated to players selected in the first 10 rounds, and the Orioles have 16 picks in that span, including several in the first three rounds, where slot money is highest.
Currently, the Orioles have the 14th overall pick in the first round, the 29th overall as compensation for Wei-Yin Chen, their second-round pick at No. 54 overall, a compensation pick at No. 69 for not signing last year's second-rounder, a competitive balance pick at No. 76 and their third rounder at No. 91.
With the Orioles possessing so many early picks, and the ability to spend on those picks, it will be interesting to see if it allows them to select players who could fall because they might command more bonus money. That would mark a significant shift in draft philosophy because in recent years, signability has played a significant role in drafting players.