On the heels of a strong 2015 season with the Texas Rangers, starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo cashed in as a free agent on Feb. 20 by reportedly signing with the Baltimore Orioles.
Roch Kubatko of MASN reported the deal was restructured to a two-year contract with an option. Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the contract is for two years, $22 million, but could be worth as much as $33 million if the team picks up the option for the third year. Jon Heyman of MLB Network confirmed the financial details.
On Thursday, the Orioles confirmed the agreement with Gallardo.
On Feb. 20, Heyman reported Gallardo initially agreed to a three-year deal worth $35 million from the Orioles.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that the status of the deal was unclear, as some questions came up concerning Gallardo's physical. Kubatko added that the Orioles "reviewed Gallardo's MRI and [wanted] to check on something. Was told early more work to be done [sic], diagnostic tests."
Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com reported Gallardo "isn't showing any symptoms of a shoulder breakdown," adding that what was revealed in the MRI "is fairly common in pitchers" and that "most don't have an issue." Ghiroli also noted the Orioles are "very cautious on physicals."
According to Rosenthal, Baltimore will have to decide if Gallardo is worth losing the No. 14 pick in the MLB draft if there are concerns about his health.
The Rangers acquired Gallardo from the Milwaukee Brewers last offseason in hopes of fortifying a starting rotation that struggled in 2014. He certainly helped, as he went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA and was a driving force behind Texas' winning the American League West.
The 29-year-old righty was regarded as one of the biggest All-Star snubs in the league, due largely to a streak of scoreless innings in June and July that rivaled some of the best such runs in Rangers history, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Yovani Gallardo: scoreless streak ends at 33 1/3 IP, 3rd-longest in franchise history Longest: Kenny Rogers 39, 1995)7/8/2015, 1:38:57 AM
The Rangers could have dealt Gallardo prior to the trade deadline but decided to pass up acquiring assets in favor of making a run toward the postseason.
While the Toronto Blue Jays ousted Texas in the American League Division Series in five games, it is difficult to argue with the Rangers' decision to keep Gallardo, as he was a huge part of the team.
Regardless of what other moves the Rangers might make with their rotation this offseason, losing a pitcher of Gallardo's caliber will be tough to overcome. He was the only cog in the rotation whom manager Jeff Banister could count on to turn in a quality start almost every time out until the team acquired Cole Hamels ahead of the deadline.
During Gallardo's impressive scoreless-innings streak, Banister pointed out how the right-hander had evolved, via Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News:
I think the kind of stuff he pitches with now, he understands who he is and the type of pitcher he is. I think he pitches more to the ground ball a little bit on a regular basis. He doesn't carry the same velocity that he did early on in his career.
He understands how to move it around more, to cut it, to sink it. When you can nail that outside fastball and pitch in when you need to, then you can expand the strike zone with a breaking ball. He's a very tough competitor.
Gallardo has made significant strides on the mound, and while he may not be as overpowering as he was earlier in his career, he seems to have a better understanding of how to get batters out.
The 2010 All-Star is also accustomed to the postseason stage. He made playoff starts in 2008, 2011 and 2015 and holds a 2-2 record with a 2.32 ERA across 31 innings. Though it isn't a large sample size, it is enough to know he isn't going to fold in high-pressure situations.
The Orioles badly needed to add another starter to their rotation after losing Wei-Yin Chen to the Miami Marlins. Baltimore's starting five doesn't boast a true ace, but Gallardo joins a deep mix that includes Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Kevin Gausman.
Gausman has the highest upside in the bunch and could emerge as the No. 1 starter the Orioles need. Gallardo gives Baltimore a stable presence in the middle of the rotation as it looks to keep pace with the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the loaded AL East.
Plenty of big-name pitchers hit the free-agent market, and while Gallardo may not have the same cachet as many of them, he could turn out to be among the best values.
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