The Baltimore Orioles have landed their newest shortstop through free agency.
According to Feinsand the deal is a one-year contract worth $3 million with a club option for 2021 worth another $3.
Baltimore seemed like a likely landing spot for the former Cincinnati Reds shortstop early on this offseason, but reports of the Orioles having done previous homework on Iglesias and finding him not to be a clubhouse fit surfaced and much of the attention turned to free agent shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria. Apparently, those issues aren’t much of an issue anymore.
Orioles general manager Mike Elias had a middle infielder with quality defensive abilities at the top of his winter shopping list this offseason and now finally has one of the better options available in free agency.
Iglesias, a 30-year-old right-handed hitting shortstop, finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting back in 2013 after slashing .303/.349/.386 with a 102 wRC+ with the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. He was worth 2.4 Wins Above Replacement according to Fangraphs, a number he has topped just once since 2013. He has, however, been consistently worth 1.5-2.5 fWAR per season since.
Last season with Cincinnati, Iglesias played in a career-high 146 games and benefited from a little juice in the baseball, hitting a career-high 11 home runs to go along with his .288/.316/.407 slash line. Overall, his wRC+ of 84 was right around his career average across his six full major league seasons.
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However, Iglesias isn’t joining the Baltimore Orioles because of his bat (although his career strikeout rate of 12% is a pretty sight). Iglesias made just nine errors last season (1,169 innings at shortstop) and posted the ninth highest number of Defensive Runs Saved with eight and the ranked seventh overall in defensive value (5.2) among all qualified shortstops in baseball.
The Orioles are going to lose a lot of games in 2020 but they’re going to do it with a flashy defender at shortstop, a welcomed sight for this young and inexperienced pitching staff that will be taking the mound on a nightly basis at Camden Yards.
This also likely cements the idea of Richie Martin beginning the year in the minor leagues, if the Orioles believe he can improve at the plate and become a contributor in the coming years.
Welcome to Birdland, Jose Iglesias! This season just got a little more interesting!