On Monday morning, Roch Kubatko reported news of the Baltimore Orioles signing free agent pitcher Cesar Valdez.
Valdez hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2017 when he made a combined 11 appearances with the Toronto Blue Jays and Oakland Athletics. He has since spent the last two seasons pitching in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol, going 15-2 with a 2.26 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 26 starts for the Leones de Yucatan.
The Orioles signed Valdez back on January 10th.
Valdez will certainly be an interesting storyline to follow during spring training. He could just be a flyer on a free agent pitcher that doesn’t amount to much, but Valdez made his MLB debut in 2010 with the Arizona Diamondbacks (1-2, 7.65 ERA in 20 IP) and didn’t return to the majors until 2017. How many other players have seen this type of gap between major league appearances before?
In parts of five seasons at the Triple-A level, Valdez is 30-22 with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, and owns a 7.3 K/9 IP mark.
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Valdez turns 35 in March, so this seems to be more of a signing to see what Valdez still has left in the tank and see if he can contribute out of the bullpen at the major league level or act as a veteran bullpen depth piece down in the minor leagues, in case of emergencies.
Most recently, Valdez pitched in the Dominican Winter League, striking out 40 hitters across 40 IP and posting a 1.11 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in seven appearances (six starts).
From his 2017 Baseball Savant numbers, Valdez throws a changeup, four-seamer, sinker and slider, with the changeup (49%) and sinker (26%) being used the most often. The changeup produced a 29% whiff rate and a .175 average against. His fastball averaged out at 88-89 mph.
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I’m sure we can expect many more minor league signings like this over the next few weeks as the Orioles finalize their spring training roster and fill out remaining holes down on the farm.