For much of the winter, the Baltimore Orioles looked to be on the outside of the action in the MLB, watching the other teams in the American League continue to make moves to improve their roster while the Orioles seemed content to add and subtract players at the back of their bench.
That has all changed suddenly in the month of February for Baltimore. First came the move for Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon, which was initially reported by CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. It's a three-year deal for $5.58 million and gives Yoon a chance to earn more during the contract with a strong performance while giving the Orioles protection if Yoon is a bust.
MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes paints an interesting picture of Yoon in a profile here. All of this is based on the assumption that Yoon is healthy. This is one of those signings where a dozen teams might be wondering why they didn't have stronger interest in Yoon after the season.
If Yoon becomes an average or slightly above-average starter during the course of the contract, then Yoon becomes a steal for the Orioles. If he wins 35 games over the course of the three-year deal, then it officially becomes a major steal.
The real masterstroke for Orioles general manager Dan Duquette was waiting out the market on starter Ubaldo Jimenez and finally striking a deal with the 30-year-old. The four-year deal for $50 million was first reported by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. The financial terms, which were first reported by Heyman, seem reasonable for both sides at this late stage of winter when teams are starting to report for spring training.
Jimenez was able to turn around his career with the Cleveland Indians after two subpar seasons pitching for the Indians and the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez was 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA while making 32 starts last season. It was Jimenez's best season since his breakout campaign in 2010 when he went 19-8 for the Rockies.
While signing Jimenez is a gamble for Baltimore, he comes at a reasonable cost for a veteran starting pitcher and he is still relatively young. He gives the Orioles another arm to match up against the rest of the AL East.
The deals for Yoon and Jimenez give the Orioles a tremendous amount of depth. Baltimore's rotation already features 16-game winner Chris Tillman along with Miguel Gonzalez and Wei-Yin Chen at the top and also the interesting arm of Bud Norris. It also buys time for younger pitchers like Kevin Gausman and Brian Matusz to develop.
Two reasonable deals for two starting pitchers at this late stage of the offseason is a coup for the Orioles and Duquette. They waited out the market and remained patient. Now Baltimore needs to decide if it wants to stand pat or take advantage of the remaining free agents left on the market to try and strengthen the rest of the Orioles roster.
It also softens the blow of trading away closer Jim Johnson earlier in the winter and the botched signings of Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin due to failed physicals. It was a rough start for Baltimore.
Rosenthal mentions in this article Duquette alluded to the fact that once the Orioles make the decision to give up their first-round pick to sign one player, they really don't have anything stopping them from attempting to sign another player.
The Orioles should be squarely focused on adding either Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales to the roster, something that ESPN's Jim Bowden reports is happening here. Either player would immediately improve the Orioles lineup, making it that much more deep and difficult to navigate through for opposing teams.
If you are an Orioles' fan, you are hoping that the Orioles sign a free-agent hitter this week and then you see what the team looks like during the spring. Over the past week, the outlook for Baltimore has changed dramatically.
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