xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Freddy Galvis signing addresses Orioles’ biggest need, but Mike Elias says there are more moves to be made

Before their need to add a shortstop to their 2021 roster mix became even more apparent, the Orioles addressed it.

Hours after Baltimore signed veteran Freddy Galvis to a one-year contract Tuesday night, the team learned that infielder Richie Martin, who was atop the shortstop depth chart before the agreement, had broken the hamate bone in his left hand and will be out until early March upon undergoing surgery, executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said on a video conference call Wednesday.

Advertisement

Elias added that the deal with Galvis allowed the Orioles to “breathe a little easier” knowing they would convene for spring training next month without a healthy Martin, who became their top internal shortstop option after the club traded José Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels in December. Instead, Galvis, 31, is expected to be Baltimore’s starting shortstop after agreeing to a $1.5 million contract for 2021.

“He’s somebody that over an eight-, nine-year track record in the major leagues across multiple organizations has established a reputation as a very reliable, very durable, defensive shortstop and also a really solid offensive contributor for that position,” Elias said. “Looking at our needs this year, especially in light of the moves at the beginning of the offseason, we wanted to target some proven, veteran, middle-infield presences, and I think that Freddy Galvis is an ideal solution for us to that end.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“He definitely looked like a really good fit all along.”

Galvis has experience in the American League East, beginning the 2019 season with the Toronto Blue Jays before the Cincinnati Reds claimed him on waivers that August. He served as Iglesias’ double-play partner and backup in the Reds’ infield, then replaced Iglesias as Cincinnati’s primary shortstop in 2020 after he signed with Baltimore.

Galvis, a switch-hitter, is a career .247/.291/.385 batter in nine seasons, most of them with the Philadelphia Phillies. In the past four full seasons, he posted two 20-homer campaigns after hitting 20 total in the four previous seasons, a power uptick he credited to an increased focus on his offense after paying more attention to his defense growing up in Venezuela.

“What I loved to do was take grounders and try to make crazy plays, try to be like Omar Vizquel,” Galvis said. “When I came here to the USA, I started hitting, and then I started learning, little by little, how to hit, how to do my mechanics.”

Advertisement

He also has twice played all 162 games.

“I love to be on the field,” he said. “Every time I go to the field, I expect to play, I expect to put on my uniform and do my best. ... I think the more times you’re on the field, the more that you have to enjoy it. It’s a short career. You can play, I don’t know, 10, 15, 20 years. After that, you’re not going to play baseball anymore, and this is what I love to do.”

Whether he’ll be on the field for the Orioles for the entirety of 2021 remains to be seen. His contract also includes a $250,000 trade bonus that kicks in should he be traded, an aspect that Elias called one of the “creative ways” that Baltimore could lure Galvis to sign with them over another team. Their shortstop opening also offered allure; Martin, a former Rule 5 draftee who missed 2020 with a broken right wrist, and Pat Valaika, who has performed better as a bench bat than a starter in his career, represented Baltimore’s primary alternatives.

Galvis said other organizations were interested in him, but usually in a utility role. The Orioles’ offer of the chance to be on the field every day as their starting shortstop proved too good to resist.

“I love to play at Camden Yards,” Galvis said. “The division is kind of tough, too. There’s a lot of good teams, so you have to prove yourself every single day, and I just see it like a good opportunity for me.

“I think that’s a big challenge, and I love those challenges.”

Added Elias: “We’ve got an attractive opportunity for a player like Freddy Galvis, where you come in, you’re a leader on the roster, you’re a starter. We’ve got a fun, competitive, high-profile division to play in. We’ve got a fun park to hit in, especially for him, a guy with some left-handed pop. People want to come be the starting shortstop for the Orioles, and I think that played to our advantage. He was very interested in our job, and I know he took it over some other opportunities.”

Elias will try to persuade other free agents to do the same. With the scheduled start of spring training less than three weeks away, Elias said the Orioles remain on the hunt for pitching depth, saying he is certain they will come away with some arms on minor league deals and might add at least one on a major league contract, as well. Despite its outfield depth, Baltimore could try to add a veteran on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, while more options on the infield could also be pursued.

But the Orioles have addressed their biggest need by adding Galvis, who as a three-time Gold Glove Award finalist could benefit Baltimore’s young pitching staff. Elias noted Galvis’ defensive strength of coming in on balls; in 2019, he tied for third among all shortstops in Statcast’s Outs Above Average when coming in, though he rated negatively in both lateral directions.

“He’s had a track record of being a plus defender,” Elias said. “He’s gotten Gold Glove votes. I think he’s a very steady presence, and we’re expecting very consistent, major league-quality shortstop defense from him. He’s very slick. He’s got a really good clock. I think his experience comes through.”

The Orioles will hope to benefit from the experience off the field, as well. In the same way Iglesias quickly became a veteran leader in Baltimore’s clubhouse, Galvis hopes to take on a similar role.

“For me, that comes naturally,” Galvis said. “I just like to talk about baseball. I just like to play the game. I like to talk with my teammates. Most of the time, my teammates, they’re going to be young guys, guys getting to the league, but it’s like brothers to me. After I get to know those guys, I just try to help those guys to get to the league.”

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement