Baltimore Orioles: Freddy Galvis lands in a beneficial spot

Freddy Galvis, now with the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
Freddy Galvis, now with the Baltimore Orioles. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

Turns out, the Baltimore Orioles do have at least a small bit of money to address a roster need this winter.

Joining in on Tuesday night’s free-agent frenzy, the Baltimore Orioles filled their void at shortstop by signing 31-year-old Freddy Galvis to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million.

Baltimore Orioles add excellent defender in Freddy Galvis

It’s a mutually beneficial signing for both parties, as the Orioles land a cheap, stop-gap option at shortstop after trading Jose Iglesias to the Los Angeles Angels.

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Top prospects Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg and recent international signing Maikol Hernandez are still a few years away from reaching the big leagues, leaving the Orioles with few options outside of Richie Martin for the 2021 season.

For Freddy Galvis, it’s an opportunity to show that his down defensive metrics from 2020 can be chalked up to just a weird year across the game, while also benefiting from having the opportunity to play half of his games at Camden Yards, a hitter-friendly park. That is especially true for a switch-hitter like Galvis who has shown a good bit of pop throughout his career.

After recording a combined 23 Outs Above Average while with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds from 2018-19, Galvis recorded minus-3 OAA with the Reds last year. But he still passed the eye test.

Despite having yet to win a Gold Glove Award, Galvis has been a finalist before and has been a reliable defensive option at a key position for about half a decade now. Having his glove at shortstop with a likely double-play partner in Yolmer Sanchez, Baltimore’s young pitching staff should feel fairly confident in the defense behind them.

The duo won’t provide much offensively, but it’s a significant defensive upgrade after having Hanser Alberto and Pat Valaika as a common double-play tandem in 2020.

However, there could be an opportunity for Freddy Galvis to be an interesting contributor to the Baltimore Orioles offense.

Galvis owns a career .247/.291/.385 slash line with a 79 wRC+ since making his big league debut in 2012 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He’s always been a below-league-average hitter with decent home run numbers and an above-average glove. But he showed something a little bit different in 2020 that could translate into 2021.

We’re looking at a smaller sample size, but Galvis nearly doubled his walk rate to 8.2 percent and slashed his strikeout rate to 18.9 percent last season. The walk rate was a career-high, while his K rate was his lowest since 2017.

What caused this improvement? A much more selective swing. Galvis cut his chase rate and first pitch swing rate by more than 10 percent, both marks falling well-below league-average rates, while seeing a slight increase in his contact rates. More contact didn’t lead to a higher batting average, but a .231 BABIP didn’t help.

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If Freddy Galvis can bring his 2020 approach at the plate to the Baltimore Orioles, along with his potential for 20-plus home runs at Camden Yards and plus-glove in the field, the Orioles will have themselves a solid shortstop option in 2021 to fill the void left by trading Iglesias. He won’t move the needle, but he does provide a bit more entertainment to the 2021 major league roster.