BALTIMORE -- Tim Raines, who was in an Orioles uniform for just four games, was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, his 10th and final chance on the ballot.
Raines got 86 percent of the vote from eligible members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, easily eclipsing the 75 percent needed. He joined first baseman Jeff Bagwell and catcher Ivan Rodriguez as 2017 inductees, joining Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig and Braves vice chairman John Schuerholz, who were elected last month by the 16-member Today's Game Committee.
MLBPipeline.com will unveil its 2017 Top 100 Prospects list on Saturday, Jan. 28, with a one-hour show on MLB Network at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.
Heading into 2016, MLBPipeline's two top-rated catching prospects were Willson Contreras and Gary Sanchez. You may have heard something about their exploits last year. Contreras took over the starting job on a Cubs team that won its first World Series in 108 years, while Sanchez tied an 86-year-old record for fewest games needed (51) to hit 20 homers.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
The end of Raines' career was noteworthy, too
By Michael Clair |
By now, you probably know all the reasons why Tim Raines deserves to be in the Hall of Fame: He was arguably the greatest leadoff hitter this side of Rickey Henderson. He stole over 800 bases at an absurd 85 percent success rate. And, while he came 400 hits shy of 3,000, he has nearly the same on-base percentage as first-ballot Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn.
Beyond being a walk machine and a constant threat to steal bases -- like Henderson -- Raines' career went well into his 40s and included a tour through the independent leagues -- also like Henderson.
BALTIMORE -- Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman was at this week's minicamp, taking time -- despite not being part of the actual camp roster -- to watch some of the younger pitchers and check in with the team at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Tillman -- who lives in Sarasota, Fla. -- talked with some of the youngsters, did some fishing and seemed to genuinely enjoy being around the team. O's manager Buck Showalter noted that he feels confident Tillman, last year's Opening Day starter, will be in a good spot physically to start the 2017 season.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- When he got the job as the Orioles' pitching coach in November, Roger McDowell reached out to every pitcher on the 40-man roster. This week, he was able to see a dozen of Baltimore's hurlers up close and personal at the organization's annual spring minicamp.
"When Spring Training rolls around, we already have the foundation with those guys who have a chance to be in Baltimore," said McDowell, who along with new bullpen coach Alan Mills met with each O's pitcher during the three-day camp. "I think it's very important for us to start that foundation … not only me getting to know them, but them getting to know me as well."
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Reliever Mychal Givens is at the Orioles' three-day minicamp at the club's Spring Training complex, though the right-hander will not do any official throwing as he prepares to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March.
"I'm pretty committed," Givens said of his decision. "I talked to [Team USA general manager] Joe Torre. He pretty much gave me the invite after Thanksgiving. Talked to him, talked to [Team USA manager Jim] Leyland, and I'm pretty comfortable in how they're going to use me and not overuse me. I still have a season to get ready for."
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles prospect Branden Kline, who had Tommy John surgery in October 2015, is expected to have a normal Spring Training, and the organization is optimistic he can began the season at Double-A Bowie.
Kline, a Frederick, Md., native who was the O's second-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, threw a bullpen session Tuesday as part of the team's minicamp at Ed Smith Stadium, and he is encouraged with how things are going.
Spring is in the air: First workout dates announced
Despite the frigid temperatures throughout many big league cities, Major League Baseball's announcement Tuesday of the first workout dates of Spring Training should be enough to warm the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.
The following are the first Spring Training workout dates, subject to change, both for pitchers and catchers and full squads of the 30 Major League clubs.
SARASOTA, Fla. -- The Orioles have made the bulk of their moves late in the winter in recent offseasons, though one move would catapult Baltimore's winter to historic heights: a long-term contract for Manny Machado.
Would it be bold? Yes. Will it happen? Right now, almost certainly not.
Reigning MLB home run leader declined Baltimore's qualifying offer
By Cash Kruth
The Orioles haven't ruled out re-signing slugger Mark Trumbo, but general manager Dan Duquette told ESPN's Jim Bowden on Sunday the club would rather gain the first-round Draft pick tied to Trumbo should he sign elsewhere.
Trumbo declined the O's qualifying offer after hitting .256 with 47 home runs and 108 RBIs in 2016, but he has yet to sign this winter as part of a loaded first base/corner outfield free-agent market. The A's, Mariners, Rangers, Rockies and Indians all have been linked to the slugger at some point and the Orioles were close to signing him a a four-year, $50 million deal in December before that fell through.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles crossed off one of their major to-do list items on Friday morning, trading for left-handed-hitting outfielder Seth Smith from the Mariners in exchange for right-handed pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations.
The move makes sense for Baltimore, as it would have entered Spring Training with six candidates for five rotation spots. Gallardo was one of three Orioles -- along with Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley -- in a contract year in 2017.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles are hoping their rotation can be better in 2017. Kevin Gausman is a big reason why.
Gausman took a big step forward in the second half of last season, going 8-6 with a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts after the All-Star break. The righty, who turns 26 on Friday, had a career-high 30 starts and nine wins in 2016, and he will be relied on heavily this year to keep the rotation in check.
BALTIMORE -- What to make of baseball next year in Baltimore?
The Orioles will return the core of their rotation, All-Star closer Zach Britton and third baseman Manny Machado, who is coming off a career year. The club has a ridiculously good bullpen, but big question marks in the outfield and a lineup heavy on power and strikeouts.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have agreed to a Minor League deal with Jesus Montero, according to a source, though he will be ineligible for the first part of the season. The club has not confirmed the deal.
The catcher-turned-first baseman, who spent last year with Toronto's Triple-A Buffalo team, was suspended 50 games after testing positive for a stimulant, his second penalty for a banned substance. Because the suspension was announced in September after the Minor League season was over, it will begin in 2017.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles exceeded external expectations in 2016. Inside the O's clubhouse, there were expectations of a deep postseason run and proving everyone else wrong.
But despite falling short of the goal of October glory -- Baltimore suffered a tough season-ending loss to division-rival Toronto in the American League Wild Card Game -- the O's had another winning season in 2016 and left with plenty to be proud of. There were numerous AL All-Stars, guys who had career years, and a ridiculous power display that had the ability to wow all of baseball on any given night.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have six starting pitchers competing for five spots. That's good news for the O's, as it will foster competition and give manager Buck Showalter some depth. But it makes fitting in a guy like Tyler Wilson a little tricky.
The 27-year-old Wilson went 4-6 with a 5.27 ERA in 24 games (13 starts) for Baltimore this past season. In parts of two seasons, the right-hander is 6-8 with a 4.78 ERA in 33 games (18 starts).
BALTIMORE -- If this offseason has shown anything so far, it's that it's a pretty good time to be a reliever. And the Orioles are in the fortunate spot of already having an enviable bullpen, which includes plenty of arms other teams covet.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette admitted as much at the Winter Meetings, adding that the 'pen is a strength he'd like to see remain so. Guys like Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens have all drawn interest and -- should they continue to perform at a high level -- the O's relief corps could be even better in 2017.
BALTIMORE -- It's time for a new wave of catching in Baltimore.
Although longtime O's backstop Matt Wieters is on the free-agent market, the Orioles went in another direction: signing Welington Castillo to a one-year deal for next season with a player option for 2018.
BALTIMORE -- When he signed a club-record seven-year, $161 million contract this past January, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis referenced wanting to do more in the community. He made good on that promise Tuesday, as he and his wife, Jill, announced a new partnership with the University of Maryland Children's Hospital (UMCH).
The Davis family will serve as ambassadors for UMCH, helping to raise awareness for childhood illnesses and UMCH's role as a leader in patient care and pediatric disease research and teaching future generations of health care providers.
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles re-signed right-hander Logan Ondrusek, the team announced Tuesday morning.
The move, which leaves the 40-man roster at 39, gives the O's more pitching depth and brings back a familiar face. The 31-year-old Ondrusek, who had his option declined by Baltimore in early November, inked a one-year Major League deal that includes a club option for 2018.
Last time we checked in, former Major Leaguer Tomo Ohka spent 2014 pitching for the independent Bridgeport Bluefish after his attempt at an MLB comeback as a knuckleballer (!) for the Blue Jays sputtered out in Spring Training. But now he's ready for MLB comeback attempt No. 2: On Thursday, the Orioles reportedly signed the former Expo to a Minor League contract.
After a rocky 2016 Spring Training and refusing to accept an outright to the Minor Leagues, Hyun Soo Kim emerged as a fan favorite and held his own in his rookie year in the Major Leagues. And while the Orioles continue to search for upgrades to their outfield and seek to improve their defense and add a left-handed bat, Kim could be poised for an even better 2017.
"I think about all the things that challenged him last year that are not going to challenge him this year, and we talk about guys that could go to another level, I think he's got that potential," manager Buck Showalter said of Kim, who started just four games in April before ultimately batting .302/.382/.420 in 95 games.