SARASOTA, Fla. -- After enjoying the best season of his career for the Marlins in 2013, Ryan Webb suddenly found himself non-tendered and on the open market.
The Orioles were quick to express their interest in the 28-year-old right-hander, and Webb took notice. So just over a week after being granted free agency by Miami, Webb signed a two-year, $4.5 million deal with Baltimore.
"There were 15, 16 teams on the phone, but the Orioles were first and the most aggressive," said Webb. "That played a big part in it as well, the fact that they were one of the first teams on the phone and wanted me from the beginning. They said they had been watching me for a while and stuff like that. That made it comfortable for me."
Webb finished last season with a 2.91 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 80 1/3 innings over 66 appearances, posting a 56.3 percent ground-ball rate out of the Marlins' bullpen. He's been fairly consistent throughout his career, going 13-15 with a 3.29 ERA in 276 innings over parts of five seasons with the Padres and Marlins.
The Marlins told him they chose to non-tender him due to "allocation of resources, payroll stuff," but Webb didn't take it personally. Instead, he was excited to join a team with postseason aspirations like the Orioles.
"It was mainly just looking at the competitive team they've put together the last couple years, the lineup they have, the great things I've heard about Buck [Showalter] managing bullpens. Looking at the guys here, I really think we've got something special going on," Webb said. "They're going to compete in one of the toughest divisions in baseball, and that was really intriguing for me, because I'm up for a challenge.
"It made sense for me to take the opportunity to come here and try to be a part of something special that the Orioles are doing."
Some pitchers might shy away from the challenge of pitching in the American League East, a division full of deep lineups and a couple hitters' ballparks. Not Webb, though.
"I'm a competitive person. To be the best, you've got to beat the best. They don't really scare me," Webb said. "It's going to be a challenge. It's not going to be easy. You're going to probably hit some road bumps like everybody does, but I'm mentally and physically ready and at the point in my career where I'm up for the challenge. So I'm glad to be in this clubhouse with these guys, ready to take that on."
Webb would seem to be in line to lock down some sort of late-inning setup role for the Orioles this year but said he's grown comfortable pitching in basically any role out of the bullpen.
"All I can do is make sure I do my job, keep the ball on the ground, try to get quick outs. Buck's going to make the decisions on who to utilize out of the bullpen," Webb said. "We've got a lot of good pieces, so it's going to be interesting to see how the dominoes fall this year."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.