The Orioles are still on a track to where they're expected to sign free agent starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, possibly as soon as today, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. Nor would that be the end for the O's, as Heyman adds that once the O's sign Gallardo, they're expected to then make a choice between one of three bats: free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler, free agent future DH Pedro Alvarez, and Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.
These are names who've been out there on the market all offseason, but it's still interesting to hear that it's who the O's are thinking about as things wind down towards the end. Only one of the three names is exciting in any way. Fowler's a player who we should all want to be on the O's, especially if he comes after signing Gallardo, which would mean the draft pick they'd give up for Fowler would only be what's now the 29th pick.
Bruce, who will turn 29 in April, was a solid player for four or five seasons, but he's now two seasons removed from anything resembling success. Over the past two seasons combined, Bruce has batted .222/.288/.406. That was over 294 games, so while he wasn't pulling a Cal Ripken Iron Man streak, he wasn't missing gobs of games that would suggest an injury, either. The other two players will essentially only cost the O's money; Bruce will cost money ($13.5 million guaranteed for 2016 and a buyout) as well as some minor leaguer.
If it had only been one down year for Bruce, that'd be a more tempting idea. With two years, that's not an aberration but a pattern. Pass!
Alvarez isn't particularly exciting either, although he'll be the cheapest of the three in terms of dollars spent. The expectation seems to be that he'd sign for less than $3 million. That's not a lot. But the reason because he's the cheapest is because he's not expected to do a whole lot. He is a big lefty who'd probably be best limited to designated hitter. He once hit as many as 36 home runs in his career.
Last year, Alvarez batted .243/.318/.469 over 150 games. He struck out 131 times in 491 plate appearances. So he strikes out more than once every four plate appearances. That's horrible and naturally it makes you think he'd fit right in on the Orioles. He's also been horrible against left-handed pitching in his career - not surprising for a lefty batter - so he doesn't really solve a problem for the Orioles in any way, so much so that I don't understand why they keep being linked to him.
All of this is treating the Gallardo signing as more or less a certainty. Maybe it isn't actually that, although it sure sounds like they've more or less settled on each other and they're just negotiating on the details. Heyman tweets that there's debate over whether it'd be a three year contract or three years with an option for a fourth year.
If you're not excited about Gallardo for three years, the option isn't super interesting to you. But it's probably not worth worrying about too much. An option would probably be something that would have to vest, and if he pitches enough for it to vest, it can't be too bad. Maybe 30 starts in 2018, maybe 180 innings pitched in '18 or something like 370 IP combined in '17 and '18. If he doesn't hit those targets, it'll never matter.
One person who seems to be at least a little bit excited about potentially signing Gallardo is Chris Davis:
Chris Davis, fellow texan, reached out to gallardo to give him lay of land with O's. All positive.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 12, 2016
Of course it doesn't really matter what Davis does or doesn't say to Gallardo about the O's. There's no other team to persuade Gallardo not to sign with at this point in the game. Still, even if you're not excited about Gallardo, doesn't it make you at least a little bit happy that current Orioles are out there lobbying free agents?