Orioles right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez knows what it’s like to arrive to a new team with spring training already underway. Jimenez signed with the Orioles six days after pitchers and catchers reported to Sarasota in 2014.
He was forced to make a quick adjustment to a new team when he signed a four-year, $50 million deal during spring training. Now, as the Orioles continue their pursuit of free-agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo and pitchers and catchers conduct their first spring workout on Friday, Jimenez said Gallardo should be able to overcome missed time.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time,” Jimenez said. “It doesn’t matter if you tell yourself it’s not. It will because it’s a different adjustment. You have to come to a new team, you’re meeting new guys and new pitching coaches. It’s a new adjustment, but he’s a veteran guy. He’s been in the big leagues for eight, nine years, so he’s going to find a way to get where he needs to be.
“Probably knowing a couple of the guys makes it easier for everyone. You know somebody in the clubhouse who makes you feel comfortable.”
Like Jimenez two years ago, Gallardo is tied to draft-pick compensation, so the Orioles would forfeit their first-round pick next season – currently the 14th overall – in order to sign him. Because teams were hesitant to give up their highest unprotected draft pick, Gallardo remains unsigned, just as Jimenez was in 2014.
After signing Jimenez, the Orioles also signed outfielder/designated hitter Nelson Cruz – who was also tied to compensation and cost the O’s their second-round pick – for a one-year, $8 million deal. Signing Cruz turned out to be the bargain of the season as he led the majors with 40 homers and was the most valuable player on the Orioles’ AL East title team.
The Orioles are now looking to pull off a similar coup by signing Gallardo and free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler to fill two holes on their roster. Gallardo would upgrade a rotation that was second to last in ERA in the AL and Fowler would likely slot into the starting right field spot and hit leadoff.