Five takeaways from the Orioles’ signing of shortstop Freddy Galvis

A quiet offseason for the Orioles with far more departures than additions, both on the field and off, made for an uneasy winter before Tuesday’s announcement that veteran shortstop Freddy Galvis signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million to replace José Iglesias as the club’s veteran infielder.

The deal had all the hallmarks of the Orioles’ manner of operation, from the relative quiet around it to the value for the player compared with the market.


But more importantly than that, it filled a glaring hole in the Orioles’ lineup and meant there wouldn’t be a patchwork solution in place to take over for Iglesias when spring training begins next month.

Galvis, 31, brings plenty of experience to an Orioles team that still lacks it, especially in the infield. Here are five things about the signing that make it an interesting one:


He’s not a bad option for the level of the market the Orioles were in.

The Toronto Blue Jays spending $18 million for one year of Marcus Semien shortly before the Orioles announced they signed Galvis put in perspective the range of talent and salaries that general manager Mike Elias was searching through.

The top of the middle infield market was starting to move with Semien signing, and there’s likely a multiyear deal out there for Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons, the top two remaining players on the market.

But some of the attractive players who could be had for far less were already signing. Daniel Robertson signed with the Milwaukee Brewers earlier this month. Ehire Adrianza agreed to a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday, according to reports.


It’s not as if the Orioles were aiming terribly high, but they were aiming for the right player. Moving to secure Galvis meant they weren’t left out.

The José Iglesias parallels will be easy …

Another veteran shortstop bouncing from Cincinnati to the Orioles, Galvis will make an easy comparison for the man he’s replacing because of his career path, short-term contract and position.

Iglesias had a significant impact on the Orioles’ young clubhouse in terms of helping players develop and grow in a challenging year, and Galvis could be a similar force, albeit maybe not as understated.

Just because Galvis has bounced around a bit lately doesn’t mean he hasn’t endeared himself to teammates in his recent stops for his demeanor and intensity. He’s developed some leadership qualities, and in a clubhouse without Iglesias’ experience and Hanser Alberto’s exuberance, there could be a need for that.

It’s hard to judge what a clubhouse vibe is like when it’s closed to the media, but from what was made public about last year’s, Galvis will certainly have a role to play as a leader if he wants it.

… except for maybe in the field.

Iglesias was, by reputation, a spectacular defender for whom offensive contributions would be a bonus. And in his one season with the Orioles, it was his offense that provided the most value. But he was consistently a well-rated defender at shortstop, something that Galvis can’t exactly say.

Galvis, by most measurements, is a few ticks above average at shortstop, but his overall value will probably be derived from the total package. The shortened 2020 season was Galvis’ first with a positive UZR/150 — which credits and debits fielders for the expected run value of batted balls based on whether they turn them into outs — since 2017 in Philadelphia.

Of the 23 shortstops with at least 2,000 innings at the position since the beginning of 2018, Galvis ranks 19th in UZR/150 (-2.7), according to FanGraphs. Iglesias was fourth in that period. They’re closer together in defensive runs saved (DRS), with Iglesias ranked 12th with eight and Galvis one spot behind him at six. Both made just 18 errors in that span, tied for third fewest.

The Flag Court could be his friend.

A switch-hitter who hit a career-high 23 home runs in 2019 between the Blue Jays and the Reds, Galvis has some sneaky power that might get accentuated by Camden Yards this summer.

His pull-side power from the left side, where he hit four of his six home runs in 2020 and 74 of his 95 home runs in his career, could benefit from the shorter dimensions and the Flag Court in right field at Oriole Park.

Galvis doesn’t have as much pop from the right side, but a wall-scraper or two every month on one of those fly balls that somehow gets out to left field in the Baltimore summer would mean another season with 20-something home runs is in reach.

Don’t be surprised if he’s traded.

Galvis’ $250,000 trade bonus wasn’t just a throw-in when it came to securing his services for 2021. Given the Orioles’ operating principles of deriving every bit of future value they can from their roster, there’s not a lot of security in having a one-year deal here, as Iglesias found out. So, Galvis got a nice sweetener.

He’ll get to play in Camden Yards, one of several parks where his power will play up, and has a chance to prove he’s still a starting infielder for the first few months of the season. Then, if the Orioles decide to move him at the trade deadline, he’ll essentially get an extra month’s salary for the transaction.

Whether the Orioles or the acquiring team pay that might affect what kind of return Baltimore would get, but history shows we’ll likely get a chance to find out.


Key dates for the Orioles’ preseason preparations in Sarasota, Florida:

Feb. 10: Pitchers and catchers report

Feb. 21: Position players report

Feb. 27: First exhibition game vs. Atlanta Braves

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