The flurry of discussion about the Orioles and Yovani Gallardo on Wednesday might have made it seem like they would sign him any minute now. Of course that's not how it goes and it's made for a quieter Thursday. That doesn't mean they've forgotten about Gallardo entirely. The Baltimore Sun's Eduardo Encina reported that negotiations are "moving in the right direction" between the O's and Gallardo.
Smart alecks among us - myself included - would be happy to take "the right direction" as meaning that the Orioles are in fact no longer looking to sign Gallardo at all. It seems clear that it really means the O's are still moving towards signing Gallardo. It's felt like an inevitability for a while as Gallardo is out of other places where he might sign and the Orioles are out of other pitchers they might sign.
If the Orioles end up signing Gallardo, the expectation, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, is that they'll get him for a three year contract in the range of $40-45 million. That still seems like a lot of money, and it is, but something like a $15 million average annual value for a guy with Gallardo's track record is what a team should expect to pay.
It's not something that will have the feeling of a grand bargain, given that Gallardo was predicted at the start of the offseason to end up with a four year, $52 million contract. Average is not cheap on the free agent market, further highlighting the importance of the O's currently weak farm system and the problem it presents that they'd have to give up their top draft pick to sign Gallardo.
Fellow SB Nation writer Chris Cotillo even reported yesterday that there has been some negotiation about a possible opt-out clause in Gallardo's contract with the Orioles. If that bears out, it would certainly be something to talk about given Dan Duquette's statement earlier in the offseason that he doesn't feel like they make sense for the club.
For the Orioles to hold that position while better players than Gallardo signed contracts with opt-outs - apparently with the O's out of the picture in part because of being unwilling to offer those - and then to turn around and give Gallardo an opt-out would be frustrating.
At least from what Duquette is saying publicly, he seems to still maintain his no opt-out stance. He reiterated to MASN's Roch Kubatko that he believes there is no benefit to offering an opt-out clause to a player. Duquette is more than capable of deflecting questions about rumors with vague answers, so the denial isn't necessarily indicative of much.
It's also possible the negotiations are hanging around what the O's side would have to offer in exchange for Gallardo's camp giving up its demand for an opt-out. Everything has a price.
If the O's are going to sign Gallardo, it's probably not going to be tonight. Kubatko tweets as much, noting that there's "still work to be done" for the two sides to hammer out a contract.
So that's where things stand, at least for now. O's fans can only hope the near-50% ground ball rate from Gallardo would be enough to compensate for his drop in velocity and sharp drop in strikeout rate.