If you don’t have quality starting pitching, you won’t win very many ballgames. That especially rings true in the American League East, which perennially produces high-powered offenses. The Baltimore Orioles desperately needed to find a free-agent starting pitcher and they did just that by signing Yovani Gallardo to a three-year contract worth $35 million. There are reports saying that the deal includes a fourth-year option. In signing Gallardo, the Orioles surrender the 14th overall pick in June’s amateur draft, something that won’t harm them moving forward.
Gallardo, who turns 30 later this month, will take over as the ace of this staff, replacing Wei-Yin Chen, who signed a five-year $80 million deal with the Miami Marlins. Already, the Orioles get an upgrade with Gallardo replacing Chen as Gallardo has the better career ERA (3.66 and 3.72 respectively.) Last season Gallardo had a WAR (wins above replacement) of 4.1 which would have led the Orioles. His 3.42 ERA last season would have ranked second behind Chen’s 3.34.
The Orioles’ starting staff consists of nothing but right-handed hurlers. This could prove to be troublesome at times, especially when opposing teams have a lot of left-handed batters or switch-hitters. Gallardo joins the likes of Chris Tillman (11-11, 4.99 ERA ’15), Miguel Gonzalez (9-12, 4.91 ERA ’15), Ubaldo Jimenez (12-10, 4.11 ERA ’15) and Kevin Gausman (4-7, 4.25 ERA ’15.) Gallardo brings a ton of experience and leadership to this staff that must improve from a season ago in order to compete for the AL East title and more.
This will be the 10th Major League season for Gallardo, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers before going to the Texas Rangers last season. Gallardo did not finish the season off on a strong note. In the second half of the season, he lasted six or more innings just twice in 14 outings. If he can bounce back from that, he will be just fine. Another good thing for the Orioles is that Gallardo is an innings eater and has seven consecutive seasons with at least 30 starts. He isn’t the glamorous free-agent like David Price or Zack Greinke, but he is the perfect fit at the perfect price for the O’s.
Baltimore was quite busy this season, spending quite a bit of money. Aside the $35 million they gave Gallardo, the Orioles also resigned first baseman Chris Davis to a seven-year contract worth $161 million and reliever Darren O’Day to a four-year, $31 million deal. Davis was a monster at the plate last season, with a stat line of .262/.361/.562 with 47 home runs, 117 RBIs, 150 hits, 100 runs and a 5.2 WAR. It took a little longer than expected but the deed was done. O’Day appeared in 68 games last season, pitching 65.1 innings and striking out a career-high 82 batters. He finished with a 6-2 record to go with a 1.52 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. The O’s aren’t necessarily done in the spending department as they have their sights set on free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler. The reports are saying the two involved parties could be working on a two-year, worth $24 million. This signing would be another good one for Baltimore as he will help in both the leadoff position and in right field. He has a career- on-base-percentage of .363, which will help out Davis and Manny Machado along with Adam Jones. Fowler has played center field his entire career but would likely move to right field as center field is occupied by Jones.
At the end of the day, the Orioles went out and made a quality move that they needed to make and are in the works for another one. Every team wants to improve to the best of their abilities and Baltimore did just that.