Spring training isn't about perfect endings, which is a good thing for the Orioles, who have spent the final week before the start of the 2016 regular season in the same kind of roster-related turmoil that characterized the early weeks of camp.
The pending addition of slugger Pedro Alvarez adds another 30-home run bat to the Orioles' power-packed lineup, but it also creates a logjam at the designated hitter spot that the club will have to maneuver around this season. When the Orioles' late attempts to sign a corner outfielder failed — their pursuit of outfielder Dexter Fowler proved unsuccessful last month when he returned to the Chicago Cubs and outfielder Austin Jackson turned down more money to sign with the Chicago White Sox
For many of the Rule 5 picks who arrive at spring training this time of the year and are given an opportunity to make a major league roster, timing is everything. Orioles outfielder Joey Rickard, who was selected from the Tampa Bay Rays in this year's Rule 5 draft, knows a little about timing.
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark tours major league training camps each year to brief players on union business and get a sense of their labor-related concerns. But during a media session after the meeting, Clark expressed his own concerns about the strange saga of free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler and the circumstances that led to changes in pitcher Yovani Gallardo's new contract.
The Orioles collectively attempted to move on from the Dexter Fowler fiasco on Friday, one day removed from being blind-sided by news that the veteran outfielder was remaining with the Chicago Cubs instead of joining the Orioles. Now, the club is left with more questions than answers.
On the same day that the Orioles expected Dexter Fowler ¿ a 29-year-old who was projected to become the team's starting right fielder and leadoff hitter ¿ to arrive in Sarasota, he was instead in Arizona finalizing a contract with the Cubs.
It was widely reported that Fowler had agreed to terms on a three-year, $33 million deal with the Orioles pending a club physical ¿ news that was confirmed to The Baltimore Sun by a high-level industry source. But on Thursday, Fowler signed a one-year deal to remain with the Chicago Cubs.
Now that the Orioles have officially signed veteran pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a restructured two-year deal and have agreed to terms with outfielder Dexter Fowler (pending a physical), the reaction to the club's latest February free-agent blitz has been varied.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who agreed to terms on a restructured two-year deal guaranteeing him $22 million, is expected to be at the Ed Smith Stadium complex Thursday and could participate in his first workout as an Oriole the same day. And outfielder Dexter Fowler, whose three-year, $33 million deal is pending a physical, could be just behind him.
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones held court following the team's first full-squad workout of spring training Wednesday and touched on a variety of topics, from his desire to meet with club ownership to a pair of new teammates at the corner-outfield spots to the annual rite of prognosticators picking the Orioles to finish last in the American League East.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette arrived at the Ed Smith Stadium complex for the first time this spring still attempting to maneuver a deal for one -- or possibly two -- remaining free agents.
Buck Showalter held his first press gathering of spring training in the media workroom of the Ed Smith Stadium complex, and alluded to the fact that he could be in the same room a few days from now for a press conference to introduce a new free-agent signing. The Orioles are still engaged in negotiations to sign right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler. Though neither has agreed to terms with the club, the Orioles were still considered the leading candidates for both.
Whether the Orioles are ultimately able to lock up Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler remains to be seen. Regardless of the outcome, the club heads into spring training this year with few roster and position battles. That's because leading up to this point, the Orioles' offseason focused on keeping its core group intact, and they've done that in retaining first baseman Chris Davis, setup man Darren O'Day and catcher Matt Wieters.
The Orioles continued negotiations with free-agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo on Monday, according to an industry source, with parties remaining optimistic that a deal could be finalized over the next few days.
No one can say the Orioles haven't made an unprecedented effort to field a contending team for 2016, but the competitive future of the franchise figures to hang in the balance whether Dan Duquette completes deals for veteran pitcher Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler or ends up holding tight to the large number of top-100 picks the club has amassed.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette appeared on the Orioles¿ hot stove radio show on 105.7 The Fan Thursday, and addressed a pair of free agents who have popped up as possible late additions to his ballclub¿right-hander Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler.
Even if they lost their first-round pick to sign Yovani Gallardo, the Orioles would still have five picks among the first 100 in this year's draft. But relinquishing the first pick could also allow them to be a player for free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler.
The Orioles took advantage of Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel¿s control problems, scoring two runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks in the fifth inning on their way to a 4-1 win over the Astros in front of an announced 29,609 at Minute Maid Park.