Category Archives: Baltimore Orioles

What the Dexter Fowler signing means for the Orioles (Update: He re-signed with the Cubs)


 

Today, the Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a three-year contract worth $33 million, according to Roch Kubatko. Because Fowler rejected the Chicago Cubs’ qualifying offer earlier this offseason, the Orioles will forfeit the #28 draft pick. The deal is identical to the contract that Baltimore signed Yovani Gallardo to, but there are medical concerns that are holding up the Gallardo signing.

Fowler, who is 29 years old, has been consistent throughout his entire career. He has played at least 115 games in every season he has been a major-leaguer, batting at least .250 and putting his speed on display with double-digit steals in every season. He batted .250/.346/.411 with a career-high 17 home runs and 46 RBI in a career-high 156 games last season for the Cubs. He also stole 20 bases, and earned a career-high 84 walks.

With Adam Jones manning center field, Fowler will slot into one of the corner outfield positions. Baltimore can now allow Chris Davis to see more time at first base and less time in the outfield, with Fowler serving as a more natural defensive option with greater speed. Fowler led the league in defensive games as a center fielder last season, and posted the second-highest range factor per game as a center fielder, with 2.58 putouts and assists per game. As a Cub, he led the team in stolen bases, runs, triples, and walks; he also matched or topped the leader at each of those stats last season for the Orioles.

Fowler will provide the Orioles’ outfield with a second experienced fielder alongside five-time All-Star Adam Jones. Before signing Fowler, Baltimore’s outfield depth consisted of Jones, Nolan ReimoldDariel Alvarez, Hyun Soo Kim and Joey Rickard. Reimold has spent 369 of his 376 professional games over his seven seasons in Baltimore’s outfield, but has only topped 170 at bats in two of those seasons. He has combined to bat .201 over the last three seasons, posting a negative WAR in 2015.

The other three players are all untested in the major leagues. Alvarez, 27, has played just 12 games at the major-league level, but batted a decent .277/.309/.426 with 16 home runs and 73 RBI in 135 games between Single-A Advanced and Triple-A. He was called-up for his major-league debut in late August of last season, and collected his first career home run.

Kim was signed out of Korea this offseason to a two-year deal worth $7 million. He batted an impressive .326/.438/.541 with 28 home runs and 121 RBI in 141 games. While he has proved his power in Korea, it is yet to be known how he will perform against MLB pitching. Rickard, selected in the Rule 5 Draft, saw time at Single-A Advanced, Double-A, and Triple-A last season. He batted .321/.427/.447 with 23 stolen bases in 117 games, but similar to Alvarez and Kim, has not proven himself against MLB-caliber pitching. Fowler will provide a definitive option for Baltimore in the outfield, while Reimold, Alvarez, Kim, and Rickard will be forced to compete for playing time.

While the rest of the AL East has bolstered their rosters for this upcoming season, the Orioles have remained relatively quiet up until this point. They will need to make some more impactful acquisitions before Opening Day, especially if the Gallardo deal falls through. Their current five starters – Chris TillmanMiguel GonzalezUbaldo JimenezKevin Gausman, and Mike Wright – combined to post a 4.67 ERA last season. Fowler is a valuable addition, but the Orioles need to go farther or else they will be fighting for contention throughout the duration of the season.

UPDATE:

Fowler ended up turning down the Orioles couple due to the fact that they would not include an opt-out clause after the first year. Instead, he has re-signed with the Cubs to a one-year deal worth $8 million with a $9 million mutual-option 2017 deal. To make room for Fowler, the cubs traded outfielder Chris Coghlan to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for right-hander Aaron Brooks.

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MLB Possible Contract Extensions

Even though I said I am a MiLB writer, I feel it is important to cover a few subjects in the MLB. Now I am going to talk about possible contract extensions.

Jason Kipnis, 2B for the Cleveland Indians, has publicly stated that he would be open to a contract extension with the club. This has led me to ask, who would be some good options for extensions and why? Well, unlike in the older days, players are opting to sign elsewhere and not sign an extension. The likes of Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, and Albert Pujols come to mind. But why? Because they get restless? No, its money. Hamilton was offered 3 years by the Rangers after the 2012 season, but he declined and instead signed for 5 years, 125 million. The years are so important because if you get 2 extra years, that is 2 more years of money. Cano did not get what he wanted, so he went to Seattle for 10 years, 240 million. But some stars do sign extensions, especially early in their careers. See Clayton Kershaw, who just signed an extension for 7 years, 210 million. He will be in LA for a long time to come. Now to ask- who else would be a good extension?

Jason Kipnis- Kipnis is only 26, and over the past couple of years has been a productive bat and baserunner. He had an average of .270/18/86 over the past 3 years. But a little known thing about Kipnis is that he stole an average of 32 steals per 162 games over 3 years. That means that, if he bats in the 2-hole, he can get into scoring position. Say, for example, he comes up with 1 out. Kipnis singles. Now, he successfully steals about 0.19 times per time he gets on base. So lets say he gets the bag. The chances of his team scoring now increase by 50%. That is Moneyball thinking, and it means Kipnis is the MVP of the Indians.

Nick Markakis- Markakis has been a solid, under-the-radar type of player in Baltimore. Originally drafted as a pitcher, he has constantly hit in the .290’s each year. His average slash line is .292/17/81, and he has an average of 39 doubles a year. From that alone he should get around 4 years, 48 million. But he is also a clubhouse guy. Markakis would be a great sign for the Orioles, and for Markakis too. Baltimore has less media pressure than Boston or New York.

Johnny Cueto- Cueto became a ace in 2012, getting 19 wins. But in 2013, he only got 5 wins and has some injury issues. Still, this shouldn’t affect his value because he averaged 14 wins and a 3.53 ERA over his career. Simply put, Cueto would be a great re-sign for the Reds and he would anchor the rotation for years to come, wherever he lands.

2014 AL East Predictions

With Spring Training only weeks away my next few blogs will be predictions for the 2014 season. The Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, and Orioles are all in the AL East.

The first place team in the east will be the New York Yankees. They have spent over $500 million this winter, and not done yet. Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, and Masahiro Tanaka are the major editions to the Yankees organization. The Yankees can’t have a ton of trust in Derek Jeter, and they know that. There has been rumors to bring in former Red Sox player Stephen Drew. If they can add Drew and trade Ichiro Suzuki for maybe JJ Putz they Yankees are locked in for a playoff spot.

The 2013 World Series winners, Boston Red Sox will be the second place team in the division. They have lost one of the best center fielders in the game in Jacoby Ellsbury. With top prospects Jackie Bradley Jr he can man the outfield. Can the Sox trust a rookie? Maybe not. Bringing back Mike Napoli was a key move for them to contend. The Red Sox roster will look the same as there championship team, but with a big subtraction.

The Toronto Blue Jays will finish in third place. 2013 was supposed to be there year. They brought in RA Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buerhle, and Josh Johnson. They were the favorites to win the World Series. 2014 will be a better year for the Canadian team, hopefully team chemistry will be a key figure for them to place third.

Will the Tampa Bay Rays finish fourth in the AL East? After finishing in second place last year and going to the ALDS, they will not contend this time around. This off-season has been around former Cy Young award winner David Price and the trade rumors. They have added some minor pieces but nothing for them to be a contender. If the Rays aren’t doing so well around the trade deadline(which they won’t) you will see Price elsewhere. But don’t count them out yet, if there bullpen actually does what it can do, and David Price returns to his 2012 form, Evan Longoria can stay healthy, and there outfield can perform to what they actually can, you may see the Rays finish with more wins.

The Baltimore Orioles will finish last in 2014. There really isn’t much to say about the O’s. Chris Davis will hit 50 homeruns, Manny Machado will hit 50 doubles, and Adam Jones will drive in 100 RBI’s. If the rest of the teams in the division play as I project them to, the Orioles will finish in last place.