Orioles sign Chris Jones, Michael Almanzar, seven others to minor league deals

Chris Jones and Michael Almanzar likely will be invited to major league spring training with the Orioles.

The Orioles announced the signings of nine minor league free agents Wednesday, including two who were in the organization last season -- left-hander Chris Jones and infielder Michael Almanzar.

The team also signed left-hander Frank Gailey, utility player Derrik Gibson, right-hander Tim Gustafson, right-hander Kenn Kasparek, right-hander Mikey O’Brien and left-hander Ronan Pacheco. They also announced the signing of shortstop Ozzie Martinez, which was reported earlier this week.

Jones and Almanzar likely will receive an invitation to major league spring training -- both were in big league camp last season -- while the other seven players likely will attend minor league camp and slot out at either Triple-A or Double-A.

Jones, 26, was initially acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves in April 2013 for right-handed relief pitcher Luis Ayala. In his first full season at the Triple-A level in 2014, Jones pitched as both a starter and reliever, going 8-8 with a 3.61 ERA in 35 games for Norfolk. Jones had a 3.04 ERA in 14 starts and he held left-handers to a .200 batting average overall.

Almanzar, who will turn 24 on Dec. 2, was the Orioles' Rule 5 pick last year. He was given back to the Boston Red Sox and then re-acquired in an August trade with the Red Sox. Almanzar dealt with injuries early in the season and hit just .245 in 61 minor league games last season, but the Orioles are still intrigued by his upside as a potential power-hitting corner infielder.

Among the additions, Gibson is the most intriguing. A 2008 second-round draft pick by the Red Sox out of Seaford, Del., he will turn 25 on Dec. 5. In 2014, he had a .290/.368/.396 batting line in 106 games between Double-A and Triple-A.

Gibson has played six different positions in his minor league career, and even though he played mostly in the outfield last season (47 games in center field, 19 in left field), the Orioles see him primarily as a shortstop who also could give the organization depth at second base and center field.

Gailey, 29, was 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 52 relief innings for the Oakland Athletics' Double-A affiliate in Midland, Texas. He held left-handers to a .205 batting average last season.

Gustafson, who will turn 30 on Dec. 29, spent this past season pitching in the independent Atlantic League, going 2-5 with a 2.39 ERA in 64 relief innings for Bridgeport. He last pitched for an affiliate in the Colorado Rockies organization at Double-A Tulsa in 2013.

Kasparek, 29, was 1-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 49 1/3 relief innings with the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates this past season. O’Brien, 24, went 4-5 with a 4.40 ERA in 29 games (19 starts) at three levels in the Cincinnati Reds organization, mostly at Double-A Pensacola.

Pacheco opened the season with the Braves’ Double-A team in Mississippi, was sent to High-A Lynchburg and finished the year with Fort Worth in the independent United League. He was 4-2  with a 5.28 ERA overall in 36 appearances.

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