For a lot of the offseason, the Orioles looked to be in desperate need of outfield help. One player who looked like he would be a good guy to bring in to the mix is recent Giants outfielder Angel Pagan. The Orioles did try to bring him in, FanRag’s Jon Heyman now reports, but Pagan didn’t pass the dreaded Orioles physical, so there was no deal and Pagan is still looking for work.
Heyman says that it is unknown when this physical happened or what the issue was. For all we know, it could have been all the way back early in December before the team pulled off the trade for outfielder Seth Smith.
If it was a more recent failed physical, meaning the Orioles envisioned a role for Pagan even with their current personnel, that would be more interesting and telling about how they view their two Rule 5 picks from this year, Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander, as well as last year’s Rule 5 pick, Joey Rickard.
It doesn’t matter now, because it seems like the door is closed on Pagan signing here. Heyman notes that Pagan is well enough that he is competing for Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic, but does not note that there is a difference between competing in eight games over three weeks and competing in 120+ games over six months.
The Orioles physical is maligned in the media despite usually being right. One recent high-profile incident involving the physical were the O’s non-signing of Grant Balfour a few years ago. Balfour pitched so poorly that he was DFA’d before the end of his contract he ended up signing with the Rays, whose doctor personally vouched for Balfour.
And last offseason, of course, the Orioles initially had a three year deal with Yovani Gallardo that was scuttled due to concerns about his health. Gallardo later settled for a two year deal, landed on the disabled list within a month and pitched terribly afterwards. The only mistake made with the O’s physical and Gallardo was that they didn’t listen to it and run away altogether.
Is the Orioles physical more stringent than that of other teams? Perhaps it is. But it’s telling that no one else has signed Pagan either. It’s March 10. Opening Day is just about three and a half weeks away and no one has made him an offer.
Maybe that’s because he’s 35 and maybe it’s because defensively he is not great, at best. The switch-hitting Pagan batted .277/.331/.418 last season in 129 games for the Giants. That’s acceptable and was a nice bounce-back from the year before.
Teams may not be confident that the 2016 Pagan is the version they would get this year. Nobody stepped in to sign Pagan when the O’s passed. That doesn’t tell us everything, but it does tell us something.