With Spring Training upon us, the Baltimore Orioles’ shopping is apparently far from done as the team expects to sign pitcher Yovani Gallardo and outfielder Dexter Fowler, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.
Sources: The expectation of O’s is that they will finish deals with both Gallardo and Fowler; Fowler expected to be BAL’s right fielder.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) February 18, 2016
The Orioles have been connected to Gallardo since last week as the right-hander looks for a home in 2016 and beyond. It was originally reported that the Orioles do not want to sacrifice the 14th overall pick in the MLB Draft to sign Gallardo as he rejected a qualifying offer this offseason.
Signing Fowler — who also rejected a qualifying offer — would require the Orioles to forfeit a pick, too. If the team signs both players, they would need to surrender two draft choices, which are currently the 14th and 29th overall picks. However, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports noted that Gallardo and Fowler’s asking prices changed recently, thus making the Orioles more comfortable in forfeiting the pick(s).
If the Orioles agree on a contract with Gallardo, it’s expected to be “three-year deal in the range of $40-$45m,”Olney tweeted last week. As for Fowler, Olney reports that the Orioles’ interest is to sign the outfielder to a deal similar to that of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ two-year, $20 million pact with second baseman Howie Kendrick.
Gallardo, who turns 30 in less than two weeks, is coming off a productive 2015 season for the Texas Rangers. In 33 starts for the 2015 American League West division champions, Gallardo went 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA in 184-and-one-third innings.
Gallardo also made one postseason start for the Rangers, picking up the win in Game 1 of the ALDS after five innings of work. The Rangers ended up losing in the ALDS to the Toronto Blue Jays in five games.
After spending the first eight seasons of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers, Gallardo was traded to Texas prior to last season in a four-player trade, per ESPN. The Fort Worth, Texas, native was seen as a possible extension candidate for Texas at the time but plans seemingly changed.
Gallardo has not evolved into the ace-like pitcher many predicted he would be, but he’s been a consistent pitcher for a while. Since 2009, Gallardo has averaged 13 wins, a 3.69 ERA, and 193-and-one-third innings per season. During his nine-year career, Gallardo is a one-time All-Star (2010).
Fowler, also turning 30 soon, enjoyed a mostly productive season with the Chicago Cubs last year. Through 156 games, Fowler contributed 17 HR, 46 RBI, and 20 stolen bases. His.250 batting average and 154 strikeouts, however, were the worst of his career over the course of a full season.
Outside of Adam Jones, the Orioles’ outfield picture is still undecided. Korean import Hyun-Soo Kim could slot in as the left fielder, but he’s still a rookie at the MLB level. That leaves right field open where a mix of Mark Trumbo, Ryan Flaherty, and a slew of non-roster invitees figure to compete for a spot.
Trumbo is historically a poor defender at any position and all of the other options are unproven. Fowler, on the other hand, would provide an instant upgrade on both offense and defense for the Orioles. With solid on-base skills (career.363 OBP), and his speed, Fowler would likely relegate Trumbo to a DH role.
Fangraphs is not a fan of Fowler’s defense in center field for his career. However, if he signs with Baltimore, he would slot into right field where he’s played just one inning since 2008.
The Orioles have a history of making late splashes. Most recently, the team signed Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz just prior to Spring Training in 2014.
[Featured Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]