Straily, Orioles agree to 1-year deal

April 5th, 2019

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles plugged the hole in the back end of their rotation and added a badly-needed arm on Friday by signing veteran right-hander Dan Straily, the club announced.

The club did not disclose financial details of the move, but SiriusXM’s Craig Mish reported the deal would pay Straily $575,000 plus an additional $250,000 if he’s traded. Rule 5 utilityman Drew Jackson was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.

Straily, 30, is 42-36 with a 4.23 ERA across seven Major League seasons with the A’s, Cubs, Astros, Reds and Marlins. He most recently made 56 starts over the past two seasons for Miami, going 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA last season while missing time to a right forearm strain. The right-hander profiled as a fit in Baltimore since he was released by the Marlins at the end of Spring Training, given the Orioles’ uncertainty on the pitching side and their organizational emphasis of pitch spin.

Though his counting stats are pedestrian (career 93 ERA+), Straily elicits some of the higher spin rate marks on both his fastball (70th percentile) and curve (80th percentile), per Statcast. Those numbers (the fastball, especially) jive with Straily’s fly-ball style: he’s posted the 10th lowest ground-ball rate among starters with 100-plus innings since 2016. He’s also proven rather durable, averaging 29 starts starts per season since 2016.

“We pursued Dan Straily immediately once he became available,” Orioles general manager and executive vice president Mike Elias said in a statement. “He’s the type of accomplished Major League starter who will help stabilize our pitching staff. We are hoping to work him into our rotation soon.”

For the first time this season, that rotation is now five-full: Straily slides naturally behind Alex Cobb, Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy and David Hess, pushing Mike Wright and Nate Karns officially into full-time relief roles. The Orioles were forced to use openers in the early going with Cobb on the injured list; his return Thursday from a strained right groin and Straily’s addition should make that less common.

The club also has John Means, Wright and Jimmy Yacabonis as multi-inning options out of the bullpen. All are candidates to start in a pinch if necessary, and all have been used heavily in the early going. Baltimore has asked its bullpen to cover 31 1/3 innings across its first seven games, tied with the Rangers for the most on a per-game basis in baseball.

“It’s been a grind week,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said Thursday. “Our bullpen guys have thrown a ton of high-stress innings. Everybody has thrown a lot.”

They simply needed another arm, particularly after designating right-hander Pedro Araujo for assignment Wednesday and optioning his replacement, Matt Wotherspoon, to make room for Cobb that same day. Araujo -- who was DFA’d with less than two weeks of Rule 5 Draft eligibility remaining -- was returned to the Cubs then reacquired from Chicago for international bonus pool money. He’s been assigned to Double-A Bowie.

Acquired from the Phillies in December, Drew Jackson’s Rule 5 Draft clock lasted just nine days. Jackson played sparingly in the early going, the 25-year-old hitless in three at-bats with a walk after breaking camp in a super-utility role. Jackson, who made the jump from Double-A this season, played six positions this spring. He must now be offered back to Philadelphia for $50,000.

“It was tough to take Drew off the roster,” Elias said. “His versatility has always been attractive and he has shown tremendous effort and had a great attitude. He has a bright career ahead of him ... it is never easy to carry Rule 5 Draft picks all year.”