Baltimore Orioles: Being done in by phyiscals?


Are the Baltimore Orioles handicapping themselves with their aggressive physical requirements on free agents?

The Baltimore Orioles’ aversion to signing a player or announcing the signing of a player prior to a physical is well documented. While GM Dan Duquette says that the team still has “some work to do,” that’s pretty much where the O’s stand on Darren O’Day. Assuming team doctors clear him as good to go for the entire four years, the deal will be signed at some point in the future.

Courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Before this goes any further, it’s worth mentioning that every team in every sport requires a physical for a player before they consummate a contract. It’s standard operating procedure, so let’s not get to thinking that the Orioles are the only ones who have the gall to require this. However they’re probably one of the only teams that take it as seriously as they do. As we know, the Orioles have walked away from deals due to the findings of a physical. They were crucified in the media for doing that with Grant Balfour a couple of years ago – and incidentally when their team doctors ended up being right they received no apologies.

Personally, I understand the need to ensure that the player is in good condition. We aren’t talking about chump change here; even the lowest MLB contracts are worth a lot of money. Furthermore teams take out insurance policies on contracts, so if the player gets injured the team collects the insurance on his salary. Thus it makes good business sense for them to know that everything involved with their asset (which is what a player is) appears to be in good working order.

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  • But is there possibly a flip side? Many fans will argue that this much emphasis on the physical could almost act as a deterrent to players signing with the Orioles. That I don’t see as anything to worry about. In my view, if the money’s good enough a player shouldn’t have a problem taking a physical given what he’s going to make.

    But I’m talking more along the lines of the player himself still technically being out there on the market. In O’Day’s case, the Washington Nationals were also in the mix to sign him. Reportedly Washington wasn’t willing to go for a fourth year – the Orioles were. However again, O’Day is still technically a free agent and could be signed by anyone…

    …you see where I’m going with this, I’m sure. What would stop Washington from re-thinking their decision, or any other team from getting in on the bidding, while the Orioles fumble around with scheduling their physical? It’s kind of an unwritten code among teams that you don’t muscle in on a player that someone else has already unofficially claimed like that. However look at Toronto making a run at Dan Duquette last year; not everyone plays by the unwritten rules.

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    And nobody could really blame O’Day (or his agent Scott Boras) for taking another deal that might be ready to sign with more expediency. That’s the risk that’s run by waiting, because as I said previously O’Day technically still is a free agent. So unwritten rules be darned, another team would be within their right to make an attempt if they wanted to.

    Next: Baltimore Orioles make offer on Darren O'Day

    Odds are against that happening, because I as I said most teams tend to respect their opponents. But it’s something to think about.

    UPDATE: The Orioles have finalized the deal with Darren O’Day. He’ll return to the O’s with a four-year, $31 million contract.