The Baltimore Orioles have officially signed Yovani Gallardo to a $22 million deal. The contract could earn him up to $33 million over three years. The team can buy out Gallardo for $2 million after two years but have the option to pick up the $13 million option for a third season. Originally, the Orioles and Gallardo reportedly agreed to a three-year contract for $35 million. However, that deal fell apart after concerns over Gallardo’s physical.
Gallardo has a career 3.66 ERA and 102 career victories. His first eight years in MLB were spent with the Milwaukee Brewers. Last season, Gallardo pitched in hitter-friendly Globe Life Park in Arlington. Despite pitching in the American League for the first time, Gallardo posted a respectable 3.42 ERA with 13 wins. Gallardo will have the tough task of pitching in Camden Yards for at least the next two years.
The Orioles have had a strong offseason. The team has been incredibly active in the last week before the first day of full squad workouts. In a matter of days the Orioles added not just Gallardo, but apparently outfielder Dexter Fowler as well. In just as much time, the Orioles re-structured their deal with Gallardo and lost out on Fowler. Fowler has returned to the Cubs for one more year. In addition to attempting to sign Fowler, the Orioles acquired Mark Trumbo and re-signed slugger, Chris Davis. The bats have never been the issue with the Orioles. This team has struggled to pitch with the rest of the AL East.
In the past few years, Orioles management has attempted to grab an ace for their staff close to Spring Training. Ubaldo Jimenez was signed after having failed to duplicate his success in Colorado. Jimenez has been far from an ace, but has turned into a solid middle of the rotation starter.
On paper, this Orioles lineup has the offensive power to contend for the AL East title. The classic baseball line is that pitching wins championships. Fortunately for the Orioles, they were able to re-sign Darren O’Day. O’Day solidifies the set-up role for the Orioles, while Zach Britton provides a solid closer option. With other quality arms in the bullpen, the Orioles can certainly shorten the game for the starting staff. This strategy has worked as of late for the World Champion Kansas City Royals, but the Royals were able to grab an ace at the trade deadline, acquiring Johnny Cueto.
Is Gallardo the ace that the Orioles need to take them to the next level? Gallardo was the Game One starter for the Rangers in the playoffs last year but was matched against a true ace in David Price. The Orioles had a solid enough staff to remain in the hunt for the Wild Card, but anything beyond that is questionable. Gallardo would be a great pitcher to have in the middle of the rotation, but this team needs a shut-down ace.
Naturally, the Orioles cannot compete with some of the bigger markets, but the team needs to be creative and acquire a game-changer for the top of the rotation. The lineup is too good to be held back by an under-achieving starting rotation.