One of the key players in Baltimore’s run to the ALCS last year will be back for the 2015 season, while another piece will be going back out West.
The Orioles announced on Jan. 9 that reserve outfielder Delmon Young passed his physical after he and the team agreed in principle to a one-year, $2.25 million contract. The value of the contract could reach as much as $3 million if Young hits all the incentives in the contract. Last year, Young appeared in 83 games and hit .302 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in. His biggest hit of the season was a pinch-hit three- run double that gave the Orioles the lead in the eighth inning of Game 2 in the Division Series against Detroit and sent a standing-room-only crowd at Oriole Park into a frenzy. Young was the only free agent that the Orioles were able to keep this offseason. Nelson Cruz signed with Seattle; left-handed reliever Andrew Miller signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the New York Yankees, and longtime right fielder Nick Markakis signed with Atlanta as a free agent.
Joining Cruz, Miller, and Markakis in the exodus from the Orioles was catcher Nick Hundley, who signed a two-year, $6.25 million contract with the Colorado Rockies. Hundley came to Baltimore in a trade in May that sent reliever Troy Patton to San Diego. The move was made to give the Orioles depth at catcher after Matt Wieters was lost for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. During his time with Baltimore, Hundley hit .233 with five homers and 19 RBIs.
The Orioles have made some additions so far during this offseason. They signed catcher J.P. Arencibia to a minor league contract, and have invited him to Spring Training, which will begin when pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota, Florida on Feb. 19. Arencibia hit .177 in 62 games with the Texas Rangers last season, and hit .279 in 48 games with Triple-A Round Rock. Arencibia previously played with Toronto. The Orioles are uncertain if Wieters will be ready for Opening Day. Baltimore also claimed former Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway off waivers from the Chicago Cubs, and signed former Cubs reliever Wesley Wright to a one-year contract. The Orioles are continuing to look for a replacement for Markakis in right field.
In other news, Baltimore named Scott Coolbaugh as its new hitting coach on Dec. 19. Coolbaugh was Texas’ minor league hitting coordinator last year. Prior to that, he was the Rangers’ hitting coach in 2012, when the team led Major League Baseball in runs scored with 808, and was second with a .272 team batting average. Coolbaugh replaces Jim Pressley, who’s been assigned another role within the Orioles organization.
The Orioles have announced details for their annual Fan Fest. The festival will be sponsored by “Visit Sarasota County,” and will be held on Jan. 31 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Baltimore Convention Center. Tickets will be $12 for adults and $6 for senior citizens and children ages 14 and under. The day will feature Q&A forums moderated by MASN announcers with players, GM Dan Duquette, and manager Buck Showalter. Fans can also get autographs from players, bid on team merchandise in a silent auction, and go on tours of the Orioles’ clubhouse. Younger fans can take part in baseball clinics, and even ask questions of players in a kids’ press conference.