Orioles beat reporter Eduardo A. Encina talks about the club agreeing to a three-year deal with former All-Star pitcher Yovani Gallardo. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
SARASOTA, FLA. — Now that the Orioles have agreed to terms with right-hander Yovani Gallardo on a three-year, $35 million deal, giving them the established starting pitcher they needed this offseason, it's just a matter of a few details before we see Gallardo in orange and black.
Gallardo must still take his club physical, which will likely be conducted within the next two days. Gallardo hoped to be in Sarasota today, but because of the quick turnaround time, he will more likely be at the Ed Smith Stadium complex Monday to take his physical.
Remember we waited a few days for even known commodities like Chris Davis and Darren O'Day to go through their physicals and go through the final details of their contracts, so the deal with Gallardo might not be finalized overnight.
But from everything I've heard, there's no reason to worry about Gallardo's physical. The Orioles really did their homework in checking Gallardo's medical history and he checks out well. And even though he turns 30 later this month, he has a remarkable track record of durability.
Even though a market never really developed for Gallardo, allowing the Orioles to wait out for what could be considered a deal, the contract works for both sides. Gallardo will receive the financial security any free agent wants to the tune of $35 million. And if he pitches well and the Orioles exercise his 2019 option, he could receive $46 million.
Meanwhile, the Orioles get the much-needed established arm with a track record for eating innings for far less than other teams paid for similar pitchers earlier this offseason. Take for example, right-hander Ian Kennedy, another pitcher who declined the qualifying offer.
Kennedy is a year older than Gallardo, who owns more career wins and strikeouts and has a better career ERA than Kennedy. But Kennedy received a longer, larger deal, signing a five-year, $70 million deal with the Kansas City Royals last month.
Gallardo's numbers are also fairly comparable to former Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Miami Marlins. But Gallardo has a better career ERA (3.66) than Chen (3.72) and has logged more innings (761 1/3) than Chen (706 2/3) over the past four years.
Investing $35 million in Gallardo might have been too much for some teams, but for the Orioles, it was right. They needed a pitcher like him more than other clubs, and there's no doubt he makes the team better.
Once Gallardo passes his physical, the Orioles must clear 40-man space. That means someone must come off. Given the fact that the Orioles have 30 pitchers in camp – including 23 on the 40-man – it would be hard to believe that an arm isn't being removed. But since the Orioles' 40-man is cluttered with young pitchers, there's really no easy choice to take off the roster.
It will be the first difficult choice of many tough roster calls that encompass every spring training.
Now, the next question is whether the Orioles can find a way to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler. He would not only bring leadoff capabilities and a career .363 on-base percentage to offer the Orioles upgrades, but he solves the team's right field dilemma.
And now that the Orioles have decided to forfeit their first-round pick, it’s a much easier decision to give up their second pick – 28th overall – for a quality everyday player.
But can the sides agree on a deal? That's still to be determined.