The economic news has come so fast and furious in the last week leading up to the official report date for Spring Training, you might as well have gotten it by reading The Wall Street Journal.
The Baltimore Orioles signed Jim Johnson and Jason Hammel each to one year deals for an amount at the midpoint of their submitted requests and the team’s offer, avoiding arbitration for both pitchers. Then they signed Darren O’Day to a two-year extension, avoiding arbitration with him.
The Hammel signing kicks the can down the road, since they will need to offer him a multi-year at this point next year, if he is as productive for a whole season as he was in the first half last year. The only downside of Johnson’s deal is that there is no way he will come close to 51 saves this season. You still want him closing games. And if anything happens to him, injury or otherwise, that’s why you need O’Day. When Pedro Strop hit a rough patch over the last two months last season, O’Day stepped into the setup role and re-solidified it.
So the long-awaited, unofficial end of Winter – the day pitchers and catchers report – is Tuesday, to the great relief of fans everywhere. It is almost an anticlimax. Many of the starters, position players or otherwise, have been working out at the Orioles’ complex in Sarasota for a while despite not having to be there yet, including Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts. This is a credit to their drive to improve on last year, in Wieters’ case, and to just plain be a full-time player again, in Roberts’ case.
Jair Jurrjens falls into the latter category, too, if his damaged knee satisfies the Orioles that it is sound enough for them to finalize his contract. Conjecture is that he’ll get an incentive-laden contract low on guaranteed money and be stashed at Norfolk, unless he throws like the second coming of Jim Palmer during Spring Training and wins a spot in the rotation.
The first workout is Wednesday, and position players report Friday. Let the workouts begin. More to come.