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Mussina building momentum toward Hall call

5-time All-Star worthy of Cooperstown despite finishing shy of 300 wins
MLB.com

Mike Mussina seems to be gaining quickly in the Hall of Fame voting. This is his fifth year on the ballot, and he looks ready to take another pretty big leap forward. Live coverage of the 2018 Hall of Fame announcement begins Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com, with the electees named at 6. If Mussina's momentum holds, and it probably will, he should get elected in the next two or three years. 

But why is it taking so long?

Mike Mussina seems to be gaining quickly in the Hall of Fame voting. This is his fifth year on the ballot, and he looks ready to take another pretty big leap forward. Live coverage of the 2018 Hall of Fame announcement begins Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET on MLB Network, simulcast live on MLB.com, with the electees named at 6. If Mussina's momentum holds, and it probably will, he should get elected in the next two or three years. 

But why is it taking so long?

Enter: Gaylord Perry.

In 1989, a pretty big thing happened in Hall of Fame voting: Perry came on the ballot for the first time. In a way this was interesting because Perry was a known cheater ... heck, he was a proud cheater. He wrote a book called "Me and the Spitter." He flouted the rules in order to succeed by throwing the spitter, pretending to throw the spitter, etc. The Baseball Writers' Association of America celebrated him for it, voting him in on his third ballot; it would have been sooner but he debuted on the ballot with legends -- Carl Yastrzemski and Johnny Bench -- and it just took time to clear the decks for him.

Hall of Fame coverage

But the cheating thing is just a side note. The big part is that Perry won 314 games. He was the first of what would be an unprecedented run of 300-game winners to come on the ballot.

And some time during that unprecedented run, "winning 300 games" became the baseline for getting into the Hall of Fame.

Before Perry (and Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Don Sutton and Nolan Ryan), winning 300 games was almost unheard of. Two post-World War II players had done it. One was the freakishly durable Warren Spahn, who just kept going and going and going and going -- during a 17-season period from 1947-63, Spahn won 20 games 13 times. The last of those was when he was 42. He threw 250 to 300 innings every year, sometimes topping 300 innings. Spahn was a freak of nature and one of the smartest pitchers in the game's history.

The other 300-game winner was Early Wynn, who won exactly 300 by just chugging along and chugging along, throwing every pitch he could think of from fastballs to sliders to curves to changeups to a knuckleball.

Spahn and Wynn got into the Hall in pretty short order -- it took Spahn two ballots, Wynn four -- but they were the only 300-game winners to choose from. Without any 300-game winners, Hall of Fame voters had to be a bit more open in their selections. From 1974 until Perry got on the ballot, the BBWAA voted in eight pitchers with win totals ranging from 143 (Hoyt Wilhelm, who was a reliever) to 286 (Robin Roberts).

The BBWAA voted in three starting pitchers with fewer than 225 victories (Bob Lemon, Don Drysdale and Catfish Hunter). It's unlikely that any of those three would be elected today. A pitcher like David Cone, you would have to say, was certainly as good a pitcher as any of the three, demonstrably better than Lemon or Hunter. He lasted just one year on the ballot.

Video: Mussina begins his incredible career with the Orioles

This is because after the Perry 300-win train started rolling, the Hall of Fame standards became quite rigid. Nolan Ryan, the caboose of that train, was elected in 1999. For the next 10 years, there was not a single starting pitcher elected to the Hall -- the closest thing was Dennis Eckersley, who clearly was elected more for his relief pitching than his time as a starter.

Why did no one get elected? Because there was no 300-game winner to elect.

There were a bunch of pitchers who were almost 300-game winners, like Tommy John (288 wins), Bert Blyleven (287), Jim Kaat (283 wins) and Jack Morris (254 wins). It was acknowledged by many voters that if any of them could have stuck around for a little longer and gotten 300 wins, they would get the vote. But they didn't win 300, and so they just loitered on the ballot year after year. Blyleven, eventually, would be elected by the BBWAA thanks in part to an effective Internet campaign and in part to his astounding 3,701 strikeouts. Even that took a whole lot of work.

Other superb pitchers like Dennis Martinez (245), Frank Tanana (240), Rick Reuschel (214), Kevin Brown (211), Orel Hershiser (204), Cone and Bret Saberhagen (167) got no Hall of Fame traction at all.

Since Ryan's election, the only non-300-win starting pitchers to get elect to the Hall are Blyleven, Pedro Martinez (219) and John Smoltz (213).

Blyleven was a unique case (and he did win 287 games). Pedro was the most dominant pitcher of his time, probably all-time. Smoltz seemed to get in on the Eckersley "part starter/part reliever" exemption.

Video: Mussina's case for Cooperstown

All of which finally brings us to Mussina. He won 270 games with a 3.68 career ERA and, as such, was very quickly labeled, "Not quite good enough." The higher ERA was entirely a function of the time; Mussina pitched in hitters' ballparks during the hottest offensive era since the 1930s, and so his 3.68 ERA, in context, is actually a touch better than, say, Don Drysdale's 2.95 ERA. Mussina's ERA+ was 123, the same as Marichal (who had a 2.89 ERA) and five points better than Tom Glavine (who had a lower 3.54 ERA but played in the National League).

More than anything, though, it seems to be the 270 wins that weigh his Hall of Fame credentials down. True, the pitcher win has lost favor in most baseball circles. It was always a pretty unsound statistic, but as starting pitchers go fewer innings and bullpens take over the final two or three innings of ballgames, the pitcher win has grown less and less telling.

Mussina's teams went 325-210 (.607) in his 535 starts.
Wynn's teams went 338-273 (.553) in his 611 starts.
Perry's teams went 360-329 (.522) in his 689 starts.

But somehow the 270 wins have put Mussina in no-man's land. Mussina's case is particularly interesting, because he made a conscious choice not to just stick around in order to get to 300 victories. In his last season with the Yankees, he won 20 for the first time. He led the league in starts, threw 200 innings. He hardly walked anybody -- 28 unintentional walks in 200 1/3 innings is pretty special. It was the 15th time he had ranked in the Top 10 in fewest walks per nine innings.

Mussina no doubt could have kept that going for a while. It might have taken three years, but he probably could have pushed on to 300 wins and locked up the Hall of Fame. He decided no, he had pitched long enough. He had done everything he could do in the game. His Hall of Fame case was on the table.

It is, to me, a slam-dunk case. I could give you 270 reasons for that. Let's just use one: Every pitcher in baseball history with at least 75 WAR is in the Hall of Fame except:

Roger Clemens (139.4 WAR). We know that story.
Mussina (82.7 WAR)
Curt Schilling (80.7 WAR). He's tomorrow's guest star.

Yes, lots of people don't like the WAR stat. But ask yourself: How could Mussina have accumulated so many wins above replacement -- more than 48 pitchers already in the Hall of Fame -- without being truly great? He could not have. He was a pitching marvel, a guy who attacked hitters, hardly ever walked anybody, fielded his position brilliantly (seven Gold Gloves Awards) and excelled at a time when hitters were given all the advantages.

Mussina is an all-time great pitcher, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and he will get there. If the voters had not become overwhelmed by the rush of 300-game winners, I think he would have gotten there already.

Joe Posnanski is a national columnist for MLB.com.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Mountcastle among MLB's Top 10 3B prospects

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle was ranked as the No. 7 third base prospect, MLB Pipeline announced on Tuesday.

Mountcastle joins a promising group headed by Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., with the American League East dominating the Top 10 list.

BALTIMORE -- Orioles prospect Ryan Mountcastle was ranked as the No. 7 third base prospect, MLB Pipeline announced on Tuesday.

Mountcastle joins a promising group headed by Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr., with the American League East dominating the Top 10 list.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

All five divisional clubs had a third baseman on the list, though Mountcastle's achievement is impressive considering he just made the transition from shortstop. He spent 37 games at the position after moving up to Double-A on July 20, and the organization is pleased with the move.

"I think defensively he's actually better at third base than shortstop because his hands are good and he's athletic," Orioles director of player development Brian Graham told MiLB.com this fall. "He's able to get the ball across the diamond."

Mountcastle, a right-handed hitter, has always had a promising bat. And while he struggled a little bit offensively, the 20-year-old making it up to Double-A Bowie and holding his own was an achievement in itself.

The 2015 first-rounder turned in a .287/.312/.489 slash line with 18 homers, a Minor League-leading 48 doubles and 62 RBIs total in Bowie and Class A Advanced Frederick.

Mountcastle is currently ranked as the Orioles No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline and his bat has long intrigued the O's. As he works at his new position and gains confidence, Mountcastle could be on the club's radar as early as 2019, particularly considering the pending free agency of several key pieces, including All-Star infielder Manny Machado.

Mountcastle, who got more reps at his new position in the Arizona Fall League, is listed at 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. The high school draftee is the only infielder listed in the club's top 16 prospects as it's an area Baltimore is notably thin on.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles still seeking lefty bat to balance lineup

Davis is the only left-handed hitter among position regulars
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles still have large holes to fill when it comes to their starting rotation, but the club also would like a left-handed bat that would slot into the outfield and help balance the lineup.

Currently, the O's have Adam Jones in center field and Trey Mancini figures to get regular playing time in left field after finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, as well as becoming one of the team's most consistent hitters. Both are right-handed hitters as well as prospect Austin Hays, who performed well as a September callup and will be vying for a roster spot this spring.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles still have large holes to fill when it comes to their starting rotation, but the club also would like a left-handed bat that would slot into the outfield and help balance the lineup.

Currently, the O's have Adam Jones in center field and Trey Mancini figures to get regular playing time in left field after finishing third in the American League Rookie of the Year voting, as well as becoming one of the team's most consistent hitters. Both are right-handed hitters as well as prospect Austin Hays, who performed well as a September callup and will be vying for a roster spot this spring.

Working against Hays? He doesn't bat lefty.

The O's have long tried to balance out their lineup, with Chris Davis the only returning regular who bats from the left side. Catching prospect Chance Sisco would make two if he makes the club.

Video: Ghiroli breaks down Sisco's outlook for 2018 season

While getting a lefty was originally seen as something the O's would rather do via a trade -- executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette seemed fairly certain of that in early December -- nothing has happened thus far. Or for many other teams since.

But there remains a chance the club will sign a free-agent outfielder, with a MASNSports.com report linking Baltimore to Jarrod Dyson. Some in the organization have long admired Jon Jay, who is also a free agent.

O's manager Buck Showalter is adamant about improving his club's defense, which took a step backward last season, and the preference would be to have Mark Trumbo serving as the primary designated hitter. With Mancini in left and Jones in center, it would leave an opening in right field which would likely be filled by a left-handed hitter from outside the organization, as the O's don't have any viable outfield prospects who hit left-handed.

Hot Stove Tracker

Complicating matters is their current Rule 5 Draft situation -- the team selected three pitchers in December's Rule 5 Draft -- as well as what would happen if Hays has a fantastic spring. Would the team send him to Triple-A or have him in a bench role?

Rule 5 Draft pick Anthony Santander, who is a switch-hitter, has to remain with the club for 44 days before he's officially under team control (can be sent to the Minors). Santander, selected in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft, has yet to prove he can hold his own at the Major League level.

Another option for right field, in addition to Trumbo and Santander, is Joey Rickard, who does give the club a speed option that previous O's teams have lacked.

The bottom line is if the O's are considering adding a left-handed bat to the mix, having that player be an outfielder makes the most sense.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Chris Davis

Curacao roots important to O's Schoop

Second baseman returns to childhood field in offseason
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop never forgets his roots.

Schoop, a native of Curacao, spends his offseasons there. The All-Star -- coming off a career year in which he was named Most Valuable Oriole -- still goes to the same field he grew up on to prepare for the upcoming season.

BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop never forgets his roots.

Schoop, a native of Curacao, spends his offseasons there. The All-Star -- coming off a career year in which he was named Most Valuable Oriole -- still goes to the same field he grew up on to prepare for the upcoming season.

"My dad and my brother brought me here to this field. I got a uniform on, and I've learned here since I was 4," said Schoop, who played right field and shortstop as a kid. "I kept learning and learning and listening to my coaches and getting better.

"This field is everything. I used to come to this field at 10 o'clock in the morning and leave at 10 o'clock at night. I lived at the field all the time. I enjoyed it."

Schoop batted .293 with a career-high 32 homers and 105 RBIs in 160 games in 2017. The 26-year-old, who will be a free agent in 2020, has evolved from a shy kid into one of the Orioles' middle-of-the-lineup big names.

Video: Schoop consistent source of power for potent O's bats

Schoop knows his words carry weight, and it's a role he takes seriously. That's why the second baseman makes it a point to visit coach Frank Curiel and come back to his field for clinics. Schoop remembers how much it meant to him to have big leaguers like Randall Simon and Andruw Jones coming back to the island for clinics.

"Now they can watch me, they can watch Didi Gregorius, they can watch Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar, Ozzie Albies, Kenley Jansen," Schoop said, listing the impressive number of current Curacao big leaguers.

"I come back, give the kids some advice, let them see me and let them know that if I can make it, they can make it, too."

Schoop credits his teammates with helping him take the step to the next level -- in particular, close friend Manny Machado, who he talks to frequently year-round. They came up through the Minor Leagues together and have handshakes and a friendly competition to keep each other on their toes.

Former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy also gave Schoop the sage advice to not worry about individual numbers -- just stay healthy and the numbers will be there at the end of the year. It's something Schoop has carried with him.

"That's what I'm trying to do," Schoop said. "Have fun with it, enjoy the game, play hard and try to win."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Jonathan Schoop

O's Sisco ranked 7th among catching prospects

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' Chance Sisco was ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect on Thursday, joining a promising group ranked by MLB Pipeline.

Sisco, who will vie for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, is the Orioles' top prospect overall. He is the highest-ranking catching prospect in the American League East. The only other club in the division that had a backstop prospect ranked in the top 10 was Toronto, with Danny Jansen at No. 8.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' Chance Sisco was ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect on Thursday, joining a promising group ranked by MLB Pipeline.

Sisco, who will vie for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, is the Orioles' top prospect overall. He is the highest-ranking catching prospect in the American League East. The only other club in the division that had a backstop prospect ranked in the top 10 was Toronto, with Danny Jansen at No. 8.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Sisco got off to a slow start with Triple-A Norfolk last season, but was able to get back on track. In 97 games, he posted a slash line of .267/.340/.395 with seven homers, 23 doubles, 32 walks and 47 RBIs.

Defensively, Sisco caught only 21 would-be basestealers out of 93 attempts. The former second-round pick, who has only been a catcher for about five years, has never had his offense in question. Defensively, though, he'll have to show more to earn a spot with Baltimore this spring.

Sisco did not throw out a runner in five attempts in the Majors. In 22 plate appearances, he hit an impressive .333/.455/.788 with the Orioles. He earned a trip to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for a second straight year.

Video: Top Prospects: Chance Sisco, C, Orioles

The left-handed hitter will spend a considerable amount of time this spring working with catching coach John Russell but could open the year in Triple-A if the O's add a veteran. If not, he'll compete with prospect Austin Wynns to join Caleb Joseph and head north.

Still, he is seen as the organization's next long-term option behind the plate. Sisco, who will be 23 next month, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Chance Sisco

Jonathan Schoop headed home to play baseball with some kids in his native Curacao

This winter has seen players lift weights, push pickup trucks and take aerobics classes, all with an eye toward Spring Training in a few weeks.

But #NoOffseason isn't just about whacking stuff with a sledgehammer. It's about being all baseball, all the time -- whether that means working out or, like Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, heading home for some extra practice.

Bullpen depth a source of strength for Orioles

With talented stable of relievers including Brach, Givens, O'Day, club built to withstand absence of Britton
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

O's bullpen looks to step up

There should also be some healthy competition for the remaining spots in camp. Miguel Castro, Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa are all relief options if they don't make the rotation, with the latter two out of options this spring. Donnie Hart could make it to give them another lefty option, and the club's three Rule 5 Draft picks are always arms to watch.

Video: Givens looks forward to his increased role in bullpen

Baltimore's picks included left-hander Nestor Cortes from the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, righty Pedro Araujo from the Cubs' Triple-A roster and righty Jose Mesa, who was on the Yankees' Double-A roster. Cortes seems to be the most capable of the three right now, but a lot can change during camp.

Though manager Buck Showalter won't publicly commit to a closer without Britton -- who sustained a right Achilles injury in an offseason workout right before Christmas -- Brach seems like the logical fit to get the lion's share of opportunities. Givens is also an option and Showalter told reporters at the team's mini-camp earlier this month that he felt confident using both O'Day and Bleier as well.

Brach went 4-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 67 games (68 innings) in 2017. The 31-year-old allowed 51 hits, 27 runs (24 earned) with 26 walks and 70 strikeouts. He also tallied 18 saves.

O'Day recorded two saves last season, going 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 64 games. Over 60 1/3 innings pitched, the righty allowed 41 hits, 24 runs (23 earned) and struck out 76 against 24 walks.

Givens, the youngest of the group at 27, went an impressive 8-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 69 games. Over 78 2/3 innings, he allowed 24 earned runs and struck out 88, with 24 walks.

Bleier was a pleasant surprise last season, as the 30-year-old went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 57 games. Over 63 1/3 innings pitched, Bleier allowed 23 runs (only 14 earned) and struck out 26 with 13 walks.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day

Inbox: Any news on the Machado front?

Brittany Ghiroli answers Orioles fans' questions
MLB.com

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers fans' questions in the latest edition of Orioles Inbox.

Are the Orioles going to trade Manny Machado?
-- Scott L., Eldridge, Md.

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers fans' questions in the latest edition of Orioles Inbox.

Are the Orioles going to trade Manny Machado?
-- Scott L., Eldridge, Md.

Probably not. I get asked this several times a day, but I really don't have any kind of Machado update. (If I did, I'd write it.) There are some teams still interested. Nothing is imminent.

I've always thought if they didn't trade him by early January, they probably wouldn't unless a team with a deep system suffers an injury that makes paying the steep price for Machado doable. But that's purely my opinion. I wish I had more for you, I really do. But there's nothing to update. He's not on or off the proverbial trading block. The O's are still listening and not lowering their demands. They want controllable young pitching.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

Why didn't the O's trade Machado last year at the Trade Deadline? They waited too long.
-- Tim L., Washington

Because they thought they were in it. Right or wrong, they were in Wild Card contention around that time. (Though certainly the case can be made that with their rotation, they weren't built for a deep playoff run.) They ended up adding a pair of players, much to most people's surprise.

Could they have gotten two Major League-ready arms for Machado if they dealt him in July? Ehhhh, maybe. The real time to trade him with serious value would have been last winter -- when he still had two years under control remaining -- but, again, the Orioles were intent on trying to compete. Hindsight is always 20-20.

Video: BAL@CLE: Schoop ties the game with an RBI single

Wouldn't it be wise to trade Jonathan Schoop now? If the Orioles don't, they'll be in the same situation with Schoop next year as they are with Machado this year.
-- Ron B.

That's definitely an interesting scenario, when you consider Schoop is coming off a career season and is headed into the second of three arbitration-eligible years.

There's been little talk of an extension for Schoop -- though there's plenty of it in the media -- because, quite frankly, now is the time. I agree with you in that if they wait another season, they run the risk of Schoop having no interest in staying because he's so close to free agency. If the Orioles want to lock him up long term, which they haven't done with a core piece, really, since Adam Jones in 2012, they have to get it done in the next few months.

If the O's fall out of contention early this year and become sellers at the Trade Deadline, what then? They have to decide whether he's a cornerstone of the organization for years to come. If the answer is yes, they need to negotiate now before his value goes up.

Will the O's ever add pitching?
-- Kim R., Norfolk, Va.

Yes. They have to. I know fans are impatient, but, to be fair, it's been a pretty slow offseason for everyone.

What kind of year should O's fans expect from Chris Davis?
-- Henry D., New York

A bounce-back one, if Davis has anything to say about it. The slugger is coming off a down year and has been brutally honest in assessing the fact that he needs to strike out less and make contact more. Of course, that's easier said than done, but Davis has been hitting since Christmas and made it a point this offseason to work on some things that will enable him to be more aggressive and more of a dual threat.

He's not going to all of a sudden become a high-on-base guy who lacks power, though. At the Major League level, it's hard to totally overhaul things. If Davis can make just small improvements with his strikeouts and batting average, it could go a long way toward balancing out the lineup.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

O's avoid arbitration with Machado, 4 others

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles avoided arbitration with several high-profile players on Friday, including All-Star infielder Manny Machado.

Machado agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract for next season -- his final before hitting free agency -- a source told MLB.com. The club also avoided arbitration with relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles avoided arbitration with several high-profile players on Friday, including All-Star infielder Manny Machado.

Machado agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract for next season -- his final before hitting free agency -- a source told MLB.com. The club also avoided arbitration with relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph

Machado and the O's were initially expected to be unable to agree to terms, but the two sides exchanged numbers after the 1 p.m. ET deadline and were able to get a deal done, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Machado was one of the highest-profile arbitration-eligible players this offseason and his name has been swirling in trade rumors all winter. He is expected to command a record-breaking contract when he reaches free agency and gets a nice raise from the $11.5 million he earned last season.

Britton, who was once thought to be potentially released due to an Achilles injury, settled for $12 million in his final year before free agency. Brach, who is also in his final year of arbitration, settled for $5.165 million.

Britton, who is recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, still gets a slight raise from the $11.4 million he earned in 2017. Last season, the lefty was limited to 37 1/3 frames due to injury and is expected to miss most of the first half of the 2018 season. Brach earned $3.05 million last year.

Just Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop remain unsigned. Traditionally if the Orioles can't reach an agreement by the deadline, they end up going to a hearing with the player. If they cannot settle, they will go to a hearing, in which a panel of arbitrators decides between the player and team's competing salary figures.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado

O's bullpen looks to step up with Britton out

Brach to take over as closer with Givens as setup man
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The bullpen, the Orioles' strength in recent years, will have to absorb the big loss of closer Zach Britton. Britton is expected to be out for at least the first few months of the season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon, which creates a ripple effect, moving Brad Brach to closer and Mychal Givens to setup man.

Fortunately for the duo, it's not foreign territory, as they both assumed those roles at various times last season when Britton was on the disabled list.

BALTIMORE -- The bullpen, the Orioles' strength in recent years, will have to absorb the big loss of closer Zach Britton. Britton is expected to be out for at least the first few months of the season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon, which creates a ripple effect, moving Brad Brach to closer and Mychal Givens to setup man.

Fortunately for the duo, it's not foreign territory, as they both assumed those roles at various times last season when Britton was on the disabled list.

The O's 'pen, tasked with picking up a significant number of innings for the rotation in 2017, could still use some help. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would like another lefty option, particularly since Donnie Hart struggled last year and will enter this spring fighting for a job.

Video: Ghiroli on Britton's ruptured Achilles tendon injury

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Brad Brach, RHP
Mychal Givens, RHP
Richard Bleier LHP
Darren O'Day RHP
Donnie Hart, LHP
Mike Wright, RHP

STRENGTH
Brach, Givens, O'Day and Bleier should be locks. Bleier was a pleasant surprise last season, and Brach-Givens is a solid 1-2 punch at the end of the game. O'Day also had a nice bounceback campaign after injuries limited him to 34 games in 2016. The O's should be able to get by without Britton to start the season and become an even deeper bullpen when he returns. Not many teams have a luxury of losing an All-Star closer and still boast a good 'pen.

QUESTION MARK
The other three spots. Some of this will depend on what happens in the rotation, as certain guys (such as Wright, for example) could go to the bullpen if they don't win a rotation spot. Hart will also have to prove he can hold his own in the Majors.

Stefan Crichton, Alec Asher, Miguel Castro, David Hess, Josh Edgin (a lefty the O's signed to a Minor League deal in November) could all factor in. So could pitching prospects such as Tanner Scott or Hunter Harvey later in the year. Once again, the Orioles will prioritize flexibility so they'll be able to make roster moves as needed without the potential of losing guys on the waiver wire.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Like the rotation, there's much work to be done here in the weeks before Spring Training. Expect the O's to sign more relievers, including some non-roster guys who could factor in. The competition for the second lefty could be interesting if they do indeed add a few more southpaws. And of course, there is no telling how long Baltimore will be without Britton this season.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles have questions in their rotation

Club likely to seek reinforcements to complement Bundy, Gausman
MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Fortunately for the Orioles (and many teams around Major League Baseball), the season doesn't start today. The O's still have significant holes to fill in their rotation, and they are actively exploring ways to add at least a pair of pitchers -- preferably at least one lefty to balance out the rotation. Though as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said, they won't add a lefty just to do it; it has to be an upgrade over the right-handed options they are looking at.

Internally, the Orioles used a rotating cast in September to try to get a look at some different guys heading into this year's camp. Only Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will enter Spring Training with rotation spots, with the other three anyone's guess at this point, depending on who the team adds and who emerges this spring. (The final three names below Gausman are pure guesswork at this point.)

BALTIMORE -- Fortunately for the Orioles (and many teams around Major League Baseball), the season doesn't start today. The O's still have significant holes to fill in their rotation, and they are actively exploring ways to add at least a pair of pitchers -- preferably at least one lefty to balance out the rotation. Though as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said, they won't add a lefty just to do it; it has to be an upgrade over the right-handed options they are looking at.

Internally, the Orioles used a rotating cast in September to try to get a look at some different guys heading into this year's camp. Only Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will enter Spring Training with rotation spots, with the other three anyone's guess at this point, depending on who the team adds and who emerges this spring. (The final three names below Gausman are pure guesswork at this point.)

Video: Pitching thin O's eyeing an ace at top of rotation

Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro, Alec Asher, Mike Wright, Jayson Aquino and Rule 5 Draft pick Nestor Cortes are among those who will be looked at as starters (though others can and likely will be stretched out at the start of camp).

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected rotation of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the O's might stack up:

ROTATION IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Dylan Bundy, RHP
Kevin Gausman, RHP
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Miguel Castro, RHP
Alec Asher, RHP

STRENGTH
Bundy was one of the most consistent pitchers in the American League the first two months of the season and Gausman -- who got off to a rocky start -- showed signs of getting back to his old self. Should both of them take a step forward in 2018, the Orioles can at least feel good about the pair of homegrown arms.

QUESTION MARK
Everything else. Those three blank spots loom large, but while Baltimore isn't the only team that hasn't added pitching in a slow market, Duquette has said that the O's have to act quicker this offseason. So far, that hasn't been the case.

It will take an enticing offer to get a quality free-agent pitcher to choose the AL East (and hitter-friendly Camden Yards). The Orioles didn't receive the results they were hoping for from their last big offer to a free-agent arm in Ubaldo Jimenez, and part of the reason the Manny Machado trade rumors have dragged on so long is because the O's would be much better served acquiring starting pitching via a trade. (Though none of the proposed potential offers have met the Orioles' requirements in that regard.)

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Hopefully, a lot. The group below Gausman and Bundy should be competing for one spot, meaning the Orioles need to sign at least two viable starters before Spring Training. That should foster at least some competition for the final spot and give the O's some badly-needed depth in Triple-A. Make no mistake: if Baltimore is going to compete this year, it will need to produce better results from the rotation.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

O's enter '18 with another power-laden lineup

MLB.com

BALTIMORE-- While the Orioles have their work cut out for them still when it comes to acquiring pitching, there doesn't figure to be a lot of major lineup changes next season. Yes, Manny Machado -- who wants to move to shortstop -- could complicate things if he changes positions or is traded. (Though the latter seems less and less likely as the offseason continues.)

The Orioles would like to add a left-handed bat to bring more balance to the lineup. And there's always the need to add more of an on-base capability (something they've been unable to achieve past few seasons). By and large, though, the Orioles' lineup is pretty much set.

BALTIMORE-- While the Orioles have their work cut out for them still when it comes to acquiring pitching, there doesn't figure to be a lot of major lineup changes next season. Yes, Manny Machado -- who wants to move to shortstop -- could complicate things if he changes positions or is traded. (Though the latter seems less and less likely as the offseason continues.)

The Orioles would like to add a left-handed bat to bring more balance to the lineup. And there's always the need to add more of an on-base capability (something they've been unable to achieve past few seasons). By and large, though, the Orioles' lineup is pretty much set.

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Tim Beckham, SS
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Manny Machado, 3B
Adam Jones, CF
Trey Mancini, LF
Chris Davis,1B
Mark Trumbo, DH
Chance Sisco, C
Austin Hays, RF

STRENGTH
Home runs. The Orioles hit a lot of them, finishing fifth in the Majors last season with 232. When it's going well, Baltimore's power-laden lineup is a lethal threat, particularly at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

Video: Must C Classic: Manny rips trio of HRs, walk-off slam

QUESTION MARK
Davis and Trumbo are both coming off down seasons offensively and there's no telling what the Orioles are going to get out of rookie backstop Sisco. Caleb Joseph, the team's other catcher entering camp, bounced back at the plate in 2017 and is another option to be in the everyday lineup (or to potentially platoon with Sisco).

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Machado moving to shortstop would, as mentioned above, throw a wrench into things. Where to play Beckham? And who would play third? There would be a ripple effect and the O's could have several people playing out of position as a result. With a defense that struggled last year -- an area manager Buck Showalter wanted to improve -- that's not ideal.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Hard-working Davis focused on adjustments

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is ready to put 2017 behind him. Davis, who began training for the upcoming season around Christmastime, is approaching this year with a new outlook and is determined to more of a complete hitter.

"The strikeouts have continued to climb and the average has continued to drop," Davis said Monday morning on MLB Network. "Last year, I had way too many called strikes. Called third strikes. Way too many counts where I was taking two strikes before I ever took a swing. For me, it's a matter of being a little too passive or too picky and not trying to capitalize on the pitches early in the count."

BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is ready to put 2017 behind him. Davis, who began training for the upcoming season around Christmastime, is approaching this year with a new outlook and is determined to more of a complete hitter.

"The strikeouts have continued to climb and the average has continued to drop," Davis said Monday morning on MLB Network. "Last year, I had way too many called strikes. Called third strikes. Way too many counts where I was taking two strikes before I ever took a swing. For me, it's a matter of being a little too passive or too picky and not trying to capitalize on the pitches early in the count."

The slugger, who in September requested a meeting with local media in which he shouldered much of the lineup blame and vowed to combat his strikeouts, reiterated those points Monday morning. Davis, who was on his way to the first of two offseason workout sessions, said a lot of what has changed is the way the opposition aligns when he's at the plate.

"A lot of it is just the shift. I've been shifted since -- I can remember -- 2011, I think, was probably the year it was the most consistent throughout teams," Davis said. "The last couple years I've tried so hard to try to hit against the shift, to play that game with them, that I got away from who I was."

Davis called it a "cat-and-mouse game" that has burned him at the plate. He had a career year in 2013, in which he hit 53 homers with 138 RBIs to go with a .286 batting average (and 199 strikeouts over 160 games) In '16 -- the first year of a club record, seven-year, $161 million contract -- Davis hit 38 homers with 84 RBIs while batting .221 with a career-high 219 strikeouts. Last year, he played in 128 games and hit 26 homers with 61 RBIs, batting .215 with 195 strikeouts.

Davis, who lives in Texas in the offseason, was set to do some running drills on Monday morning, followed by a session in the weight room.

"As I've grown older, I've learned a lot and feel pretty good about my training regimen now," Davis said.

As for hitting?

"I'll hit four times a week, sometimes five times a week," Davis said. "I've learned over the years more is not better, especially when it comes to your swing."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Yanks reportedly discussed Machado with O's

MLB.com

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have said that they are comfortable going forward with a pair of rookies in their infield, but general manager Brian Cashman also appears to be keeping one eye trained on the ongoing situation with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Though the likelihood of a deal remains less than great for several reasons, the Yankees spoke again with Baltimore this week concerning the three-time All-Star, according to a report by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees haven't commented on the report.

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have said that they are comfortable going forward with a pair of rookies in their infield, but general manager Brian Cashman also appears to be keeping one eye trained on the ongoing situation with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Though the likelihood of a deal remains less than great for several reasons, the Yankees spoke again with Baltimore this week concerning the three-time All-Star, according to a report by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees haven't commented on the report.

Machado can be a free agent after the 2018 season and is not expected to sign an extension with the Orioles, which has made the 25-year-old one of the most intriguing names on the trade market this offseason.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Yankees would have to part with some of the top talent in their loaded farm system if they were to convince Baltimore owner Peter Angelos to deal Machado within the American League East, but they are also one of the few teams who could match up for such a trade.

The White Sox were said to have made a considerable offer for Machado during last month's Winter Meetings. The Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Phillies and Red Sox have also been linked to the two-time Gold Glove Award winner, for whom Baltimore is said to be seeking a pair of controllable starting pitchers.

Video: MLB Tonight discusses how Yankees can acquire Machado

Cashman's December moves created a pair of vacancies in the Yankees infield. Second baseman Starlin Castro was moved to the Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade and third baseman Chase Headley's salary was offloaded to the Padres, providing more latitude to keep payroll under the $197 million threshold in an effort to reset their luxury tax rate.

While Cashman has said that he is not ready to anoint starters at second base and third base, the team considers Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres as being close to big league ready. Andujar played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and Torres, rated the game's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in time for Spring Training.

Video: Morosi breaks down market for Moustakas, Frazier

Other internal options include Thairo Estrada, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade. The Yankees have also spoken with the Pirates regarding infielder Josh Harrison and have been in contact with the agent for free agent Todd Frazier, who hit .222/.365/.423 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 66 games after being acquired by New York last July. Mike Moustakas and Eduardo Nunez are also free agents.

Even so, few players carry the same appeal as Machado, who hit .259/.310/.471 with 33 homers and 95 RBIs in 156 games for the Orioles last season. His name has been mentioned often in the Bronx over the last several years, and the Yankees are expected to be among Machado's most ardent suitors in an impressive free-agent class next offseason that could also see Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper on the move. 

 

Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Manny Machado