Tag: Matt Wieters

Matt Wieters: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Free-Agent Catcher

Catcher Matt Wieters remains among the top players available in free agency, but his market appears to be heating up with multiple teams showing interest.

Continue for updates.

Braves, Nationals Among Teams Vying for Wieters

Thursday, Dec. 29

According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals appear to be Wieters’ top two suitors.

Per Heyman, Atlanta has long stood out as a landing spot for Wieters, but the Nats have jumped in to replace some of the production lost by the departures of catcher Wilson Ramos and infielder Danny Espinosa.

Heyman also named the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Mets as possible fits, although they may all be content with their current catching situations.

Wieters is coming off a 2016 season that saw him hit .243 with 17 home runs and 66 RBI for the Baltimore Orioles. He was also named to his fourth All-Star team in eight MLB seasons.

The 30-year-old veteran boasts considerable power for the position with three seasons of 20 or more home runs, and he is also capable defensively with two Gold Gloves to his credit.

Staying healthy has been Wieters’ biggest issue in recent years, however, as he appeared in just 101 games combined in the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

Wieters bounced back to play in 124 contests last season, and he is easily the best backstop still available.

Teams being cautious when it comes to offering Wieters a big contract in both money and term is understandable considering his durability issues, but he is a solid, reliable presence behind the plate when healthy.

Strong all-around catchers are at a premium in Major League Baseball, and both the Braves and Nationals would receive a significant boost by signing him.


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MLB Rumors: Latest Buzz on Free Agency and J.D. Martinez Trade

With the holiday season fast approaching, most major business around Major League Baseball is nearing its conclusion. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Yoenis Cespedes have all found huge contracts, as have Justin Turner, Mark Melancon and Dexter Fowler.

Other lesser free agents, like Neil Walker and Jeremy Hellickson, accepted huge one-year qualifying offers to stick around in their current digs. The stragglers remaining on the market consist of two big-time sluggers being tepidly pursued due to their qualifying offers (Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista) and another who packs a lot of pop to go with bouts of inconsistency (Mark Trumbo).

As such, some teams have turned to stoking the trade hot stove to land an impact player. Others remain hopeful on the free-agent market that the likes of Encarnacion or Bautista will lower their prices, or perhaps another bargain will emerge on a short-term contract.

Here’s an updated look at one of the biggest names generating trade buzz and some free-agency talk.


Orioles Back Away from Trumbo Talks

Trumbo is the most attainable slugger left on the market. He does not come attached to a qualifying offer, which would force teams to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for his services. He’s also a deeply flawed player and one of the worst individual defenders in baseball when on the field—he absolutely needs to hit with elite power to be effective.

In 2016, Trumbo did just that. His 47 home runs blasted his previous career high and were four more than anyone else. It speaks to his level of poor defensive skills that Trumbo walked away with just 2.2 wins above replacement last season, per FanGraphs.

With most teams recognizing Trumbo is better off as a designated hitter—especially as his next contract takes him deeper into his 30s—the market has been tepid. Even 10 years ago, Trumbo likely would have commanded a multiyear deal that pushed close to nine figures. Now he’s having trouble finding a deal he’s even willing to take.

 of MASN reported the Orioles have grown disillusioned with Trumbo’s asking price and pulled their offer. ESPN’s Buster Olney previously reported Baltimore offered a four-year deal worth between $52 million and $55 million, while Trumbo’s counter asked for $75 million to $80 million over the same stretch.

The Orioles are the more realistic party in this scenario. No team in its right mind should be offering Trumbo $20 million per season. He’d belted 36 home runs total over his previous two seasons before breaking out in 2016 and was actually worth -1.2 wins in 2014

It’s possible the Orioles can wait this out and get Trumbo’s price to come down into their range.


Orioles Still Not Ruling Out Wieters Return

The Orioles signed catcher Welington Castillo last week to a one-year, $6 million contract, which carries a $7 million player option for 2018. Castillo will likely walk into 2017 as Baltimore’s starting backstop, and he comes on a relative bargain.

Most assumed Castillo’s signing would mark the end of Matt Wieters‘ time in Baltimore. Wieters, a 2007 first-round pick, has spent his entire career in the Baltimore organization. He never became the superstar many pegged coming out of Georgia Tech but put together a solid 124-game campaign in 2016 after having his previous two years mired by injuries.

The market has nonetheless been slow, with agent Scott Boras acknowledging it’ll likely be January before Wieters finds a contract.

“The clubs that need catching are pretty well-defined,” Boras said, per Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. “Some are thinking about moving players to make room for him, so the timetable always on catching, I don’t know what it is; it’s always been—I can’t think of one I’ve represented that didn’t sign in January, but they do.”

Given the market, Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported a potential Wieters-Baltimore reunion shouldn’t be ruled out. It wouldn’t make all that much sense on paper. The Orioles already have a solid defensive backup in Caleb Joseph, who some have argued is a better all-around catcher than Castillo. 

The only logical scenario in which Wieters returns is one where he accepts a 50-50 platoon with Castillo on a short-term deal. That’ll likely be a nonstarter for the Boras client, who will want either a long-term deal or a clear starting job.

But the Orioles like late-winter signings, so it’s not entirely out of the question.


Tigers Looking to Move J.D. Martinez

Two years away from potentially hitting the free-agent market, J.D. Martinez has become a hot commodity in trade circles. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reported the Tigers are open to moving Martinez but are having trouble finding teams willing to part with their asking price. Detroit, a team with deep pockets and the ability to pay Martinez long term, is looking for “young, controllable talent” as part of any package.

The asking price is understandable. Martinez has produced 10.8 wins over the last three seasons, per FanGraphs, and still hit .307/.373/.535 with 22 home runs and 68 runs batted in despite missing 42 games in 2016. That absence helped lead to the worst defensive season of his career, but Martinez is a four- or five-win player when he plays even average defense.

There aren’t many teams around baseball that couldn’t use someone like Martinez. The Tigers could use him. That’s why they’ve set the price so high.

But it’s also why they’re going to have trouble finding a suitor until someone gets desperate. 

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Matt Wieters Accepts Orioles’ Qualifying Offer: Contract Details, Reaction

Matt Wieters is staying with the only Major League Baseball organization he knows.

The catcher elected to re-sign with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday by accepting his one-year qualifying offer, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Joel Sherman of the New York Post later confirmed Heyman’s report.

Given that Wieters played in just 101 games over the last two seasons due to injury, Heyman saw the logic in Wieters’ delaying his foray into free agency by one year:

Wieters didn’t make his first appearance this past season until June 5. He underwent Tommy John surgery the previous year and spent time at extended spring training and on a minor league rehab assignment as he healed from the procedure.

He looked well on his way to an impactful season after that debut when he notched two hits and two RBI, but he hit just .267 with eight home runs in 75 games on the campaign. It was a far cry from three straight seasons with at least 22 home runs from 2011 to 2013.

The elbow surgery and schedule that sometimes prevented him from catching on back-to-back days in 2015 likely influenced his decision, especially since he didn’t get the opportunity to prove himself with a playoff appearance for the third-place Orioles.

Still, the catcher has developed into a Baltimore fixture and has been with the organization since it drafted him with the fifth overall pick in 2007. The former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket debuted in 2009 and quickly became one of the fan favorites on the team.

He discussed whether those Baltimore ties would impact his free-agency decision following the 2015 season, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com:

I won’t know until I go through the process. I’ll do a lot of prayer and hopefully God will lead me to where he wants me to be and then I know that will be the right one.

On top of that, there is nothing but fond memories that I have from my time here in Baltimore. I love this city and I love this team and I love this clubhouse more than anything.

Those fond memories clearly played a factor in his decision because he elected to return to Baltimore as part of the team’s core in a difficult American League East.

Despite an injury-plagued campaign, Jim Duquette of MLB.com ranked Wieters as the ninth-best free agent available this offseason: “This talented switch-hitter has had some injury problems, but he can hit for power and shut down a running game—two hard-to-find skills.”

Wieters is a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner and is only 29 years old, with a number of productive seasons theoretically ahead of him. The Orioles know better than any other team what Wieters is capable of, and they are banking on his return to form in the immediate future.

Per Baseball-Reference.com, Wieters ranked in the top three in the American League in caught stealing percentage in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and finished second in number of baserunners thrown out stealing in 2012 and 2013.

He was particularly impressive in 2011 when he posted 17 total defensive runs saved above average, according to FanGraphs.

The Orioles will be a much more dangerous team in 2016 if Wieters once again becomes a defensive force and hits for the power fans saw from 2011 to 2013.

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MLB Rumors: Latest Free-Agent Buzz Amid 2015 World Series

While two teams spend the next week battling for the 2015 World Series title, 28 other organizations are focused on finding ways to get to that point next season.

The good news for those looking to improve their rosters is the upcoming class of free agents features a bunch of impact players who can instantly turn around fortunes. The challenge will be getting those stars to sign with plenty other competition for their services.

There is a lot of time for negotiations, and a lot can change over the next few weeks and months. But here is an early look at some top free agents and the latest buzz surrounding them.


David Price, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays

He was a key cog for the Toronto Blue Jays’ surge to the postseason, but the future is unclear for David Price. General manager Alex Anthopoulos, who acquired the ace at the trade deadline, said he wants to keep him north of the border:

However, Anthopoulos could be departing Toronto, with ESPN‘s Buster Olney reporting he has the GM has turned down an extension with the club.

While both sides have said the right things, it seems the chances of Price actually staying in Toronto are not high, at least according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

“No matter how many times someone with the Blue Jays says David price may return, sorry, I’m having a hard time seeing Price and the Jays getting back together,” Heyman wrote. “The smart money has the Cubs and Dodgers as the most likely teams for Price.”

ESPN Insider Jim Bowden noted the Los Angeles Dodgers would be interested in signing either Price or Jordan Zimmermann if Zack Greinke were to opt out of his current contract. Meanwhile, Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago also predicted the Chicago Cubs will be interested in adding another top-level pitcher this offseason.

There will likely be a lot of interested teams in Price after he posted a league-leading 2.45 ERA this season. Playoff question marks aside, he is a perennial Cy Young Award candidate who eats up innings and strikes out a ton of batters.

With big-market teams like Chicago and Los Angeles in a bidding war, Price could end up with a huge payday.


Matt Wieters, C, Baltimore Orioles

The Baltimore Orioles were hoping Matt Wieters would be behind the plate with the team for 15-20 years, but it seems like he is now on his way out after six.

Although the three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glove winner has obviously shown in the past he can be an elite backstop, he missed about a year with Tommy John surgery and only played in 75 games this season. In that time, he only hit .267 with eight home runs with a caught-stealing rate that was below league average, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Despite the down year, there is still interest from around the league. According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, “The Braves, Dodgers, Rays, Astros and Mariners could bid for Wieters.”

One of the big questions will be whether the Orioles want to give him a qualifying offer (one year for $15.8 million) and whether Wieters will accept it. Steve Melewski of MASN broke down why he might consider it:

Some believe there is no way that Wieters – a Scott Boras client – would accept a qualifying offer. No player has yet accepted one. But Wieters could be a unique case. If he took the offer, he could then use the 2016 season to re-establish himself as a top catcher and, if he can do that, he would hit the market after next year with potentially much more bargaining power than he has right now.

Most players will choose more guaranteed money and future pay over a one-year risk, but this makes a lot of sense for Wieters as he tries to get back to his old form. At least he knows there is interest on the open market if he does test the waters.


Jeff Samardzija, RHP, Chicago White Sox

Another player looking to bounce back from a bad year is Jeff Samardzija. The former Cubs ace came to the Chicago White Sox on a one-year deal that turned out to be a disaster.

Samardzija finished the season 11-13 with a 4.96 ERA, allowing the most hits, earned runs and home runs in the American League. Despite these struggles, he still has interest from teams that don’t want to spend big on a pitcher. Surprisingly, this includes the New York Yankees.

According to Heyman, “The Yankees are interested in a right-handed bat, middle-relief help and perhaps one starter. Jeff Samardzija could be that guy, though apparently not Price, Johnny Cueto or Greinke. They aren’t high at the moment on $200 million deals for pitchers.”

New York isn’t known for being thrifty on the free-agent market, but this could make a lot of sense as a low-risk, high-reward deal for a team already spending money in other places.

For all of his problems in 2015, Samardzija did pitch 214 innings, marking the third year in a row he reached 210 for a season. He also had two complete-game shutouts and has shown plenty of brilliance throughout his early career.

The potential for a big season is there, with a worst case being a solid end-of-the-rotation starter who gives a team a lot of innings. The Yankees—or any team—would be smart to sign him at the right price.


Follow Rob Goldberg on Twitter for more year-round sports analysis. 

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Blue Jays’ Troy Tulowitzki Perfectly Leaps over Orioles Player to Avoid Tag

Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has bounce.

After poking a grounder up the middle in the bottom of the sixth of a 10-2 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, the 30-year-old overran first base following an errant throw.

Backing up the bag, though, was O’s catcher Matt Wieters, so Tulo was in trouble. The Jays star sprinted back to the base, but Wieters had him beat.

So Tulowitzki, being the acrobat that he is, decided to casually leap over his diving opponent and land safely on the base.

No big deal.

[Major League Baseball]

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Machado, Wieters and Davis May Be the Coup of Orioles’ Offseason

The frustration is understandable.

To watch your team sit meekly by during one of the craziest, most active offseasons in recent memory can make a fanbase stir crazy. That holds especially true when you watch that same team lose pivotal pieces in free agency and not replace them.

Yes, the inactivity of the Baltimore Orioles can be maddening for some. It’s no fun not having a ticket to the coolest party of the offseason, especially when teams within your own division are some of the guests of honor.

Then again, when you run away with your division by 12 games and get back a couple of past All-Stars from injury and expect another to return to form, how much do you actually need to add, even if teams around you are getting a bit better?

The Orioles expect to have third baseman Manny Machado and catcher Matt Wieters back early in the season if not by Opening Day, and both have been All-Stars—Wieters made the American League squad last summer. The team also has high hopes that Chris Davis will return from his amphetamine suspension and get back to being something close to the hitter who posted a 168 OPS-plus—68 percent better than a league-average player—and finished third in MVP voting in 2013.

But it’s not like the O’s are doing nothing. General manager Dan Duquette has explored trades and kicked a lot of free-agent tires, but his most notable move of the offseason has been bringing back Delmon Young. There could be more to come very soon, though.

Manager Buck Showalter is expected to fly to Alabama to meet with outfielder Colby Rasmus over the next few days, The Baltimore Sun beat writer Eduardo A. Encina reported Wednesday. The reason for the meeting is for Showalter to determine if Rasmus, who has a spotty reputation, would be a good fit within the Orioles’ clubhouse. Showalter did the same thing last year with Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young, both players with off-the-field question marks at the time, and both were productive offensive additions en route to the team’s AL East title.

Because Cruz, who hit 40 home runs and had a 140 OPS-plus, is gone, as is right fielder Nick Markakis, the Orioles need outfield help. They are interested in Rasmus on a one-year deal worth between $6-8 million, according to Encina. If Rasmus can get back to the 127 OPS-plus he put up in 2013 with the Toronto Blue Jays, he would give Baltimore their second consecutive award for Steal of the Offseason, Cruz being the first.

Duquette also has interest in Ichiro Suzuki and Nori Aoki at more limited levels.

Also, only partly because the team lost left-hander Andrew Miller, the Orioles are still looking for bullpen help.

Even with this further exploration of outfield and bullpen options, the Orioles are operating as if time and rehab are their biggest offseason acquisitions. And maybe they are correct in that assessment.

Machado is a star on the rise and still just 22 years old. He suffered his second significant knee injury of his career last August the day the Orioles built a six-game lead in the division. He was done for the rest of the season, but the Orioles pushed the lead to as many as 14 games without him. At the time of the injury, Machado was arguably playing better than he did in 2013 when he was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and finished ninth in MVP voting in his age 20-21 season.

Having him back and healthy is clearly a positive impact. However, the Orioles did much of what they did last season with Machado healthy. They missed him for only about a month and a half, plus the postseason. It’s not like they played all of 2014 minus Machado, so his comeback is definitely impactful, but not ground shaking.

Wieters is a different story. He suffered an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery last June, although it kept him out of the lineup starting May 11. He was still voted as an All-Star starter, but the selection, while nice, was unwarranted despite him hitting .308/.339/.500 with a 135 OPS-plus through 26 games.

There have been questions about when Wieters could actually return, but his agent, Scott Boras, assured the baseball world his client would be ready for Opening Day. Position players undergoing Tommy John surgery usually are not lost for as long as pitchers who undergo the procedure. Having Wieters in the lineup for the start of the season would be a big addition for the Orioles, and it could help supplement the loss of Cruz if Wieters continues to progress offensively.

As for Davis, the Orioles had him for nearly an entire season before his suspension, and the only reason he was even an average player was because he managed to hit 26 home runs in 127 games. Aside from that, he hit .196/.300/.404 with a 98 OPS-plus and struck out 173 times against 60 walks.

The suspension was for Davis’ use of Adderall, a drug for which he previously had a therapeutic-use exemption. Davis failed to get one for 2014 and was suspended 25 games, which will keep him out of the Opening Day lineup this year as he has one more game to serve. Davis will have the TUE for 2015, and the Orioles are hoping his allowed use of Adderall will help get the former home run champ back to his 2013 form.

In an offseason filled with blockbuster trades, big-time free-agent signings and some improved rosters in the AL East, it can be maddening to watch the Orioles stand pat. But while the headlines might be going to the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays for their offseason moves, the truth is none of those teams have gotten that much better. They all still have holes and serious questions about their rosters.

Meanwhile, the Orioles are cruising through the winter, content with minor tweaks rather than huge overhauls because they expect their own players to be back healthy and productive come next spring. And that just may be enough for their repeat performance in 2015.

Anthony Witrado covers Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report. He spent the previous three seasons as the national baseball columnist at Sporting News, and four years before that as the Brewers beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Follow Anthony on Twitter @awitrado and talk baseball here.

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Matt Wieters’ Elbow Making Progress, Helped by Controversial Injection

Matt Wieters is making progress. A trade for another catcher was taken as a sign by many that Wieters might be heading for surgery, but Dan Connelly of the Baltimore Sun corrected that thought. While Wieters hasn’t begun any baseball activities, the thought that he’s getting closer is not only a positive, but it shows that the direction he’s taken may be correct.

Wieters is doing a standard elbow rehab at this stage, focused on range of motion, stability and secondary stabilizer strength. With a damaged ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), the concern will be that the elbow will have additional laxity and that the scar tissue that’s rebuilding the damage will need to be protected until the ligament is stronger. 

Another big advantage that Wieters had was a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection delivered directly into his elbow. PRP is made by drawing blood out of the patient, spinning it in a centrifuge and then injecting it back into the patient in the joint space where the problem exists. For Wieters, that was the elbow, of course. 

PRP has been used for several years, but there is no consensus on why or even if it works. The scientific studies are very vague and have mixed results. There’s agreement that using the body’s own product in concentration does no harm, at the least, and most surgeons say they have seen some gains in some cases. Dr. James Andrews once stated that he was going to use PRP on all elbows he saw. “If it doesn’t hurt, it can’t hurt to try,” he explained to an audience at his ASMI conference. 

PRP is also being lumped in with other therapies, such as extracting stem cells from the body or adding things to PRP, such as the Regenexx therapy that is becoming more widely used in American sports. The term “biologics” is taking hold, though it’s still a very vague label. Stem cells were recently used to help CC Sabathia’s knee, though it is too early to tell how well it works.

These injections may not be well understood, but they are not illegal. Some have been confused due to the use of HGH and other substances in some injections, but in a tested environment, doctors know not to use those substances. Dr. Anthony Galea was caught using some performance enhancers in his injections, but the guy was arrested for a reason.

When I wrote an article about the future of sports medicine for Popular Science a few years back, many of the doctors I spoke with pointed to biologics as one of the big possibilities. If Wieters and others can have a low percentage rehab like his aided by their use, it’s a win-win proposition for everyone. 

Right now, the Orioles are operating on a calendar, not a clock. They’ll be as patient as they can be with Wieters in his rehab, but for every day they wait before surgery, they’re taking a day off his 2015 season. They’re gambling on the possibility of the biologically aided rehab working and risking some lost time in the future. 

There’s no indication at all that Wieters will be back to catching in the short term. The trade for Nick Hundley seems to be intent on getting more production from the position in the short term, but it may also be needed in the longer term if Wieters has to shift to DH. With Chris Davis at 1B, that’s not a long-term option unless Davis moves on. 

The next step for Wieters will be taking swings. He’s weeks away from live batting, and again, this is not an assured step. Even a small setback could force him to undergo surgery, ending his 2014 and perhaps eating into his 2015. The Orioles hope that biologics and hard work can keep Wieters on the Albert Pujols path, avoiding surgery and maintaining production. 

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Matt Wieters Injury: Updates on Orioles Star’s Elbow and Recovery

The Baltimore Orioles may soon be slipping down the American League East standings after news that Matt Wieters may be on the shelf for a while:

Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported that the All-Star catcher will see renowned orthopedic surgeon James Andrews on Wednesday. There is a chance that Wieters has a torn UCL, which would likely end his 2014 season:

The club later confirmed that he would be seeing Dr. Andrews. 

However, the injury isn’t serious enough to keep him out of the lineup on Tuesday night. Manager Buck Showalter slotted him in at designated hitter against the Tampa Bay Rays, per Eduardo A. Encina of The Baltimore Sun:

MASN’s Roch Kubatko also notes that he plans on playing Wednesday:

Bleacher Report injury expert Will Carroll presented a few of the scenarios that Wieters may be facing:

As CBSSports.com’s Chris Towers pointed out, the problem couldn’t come at a worse time for Wieters. This was the first year in which he truly looked to be following through on the promise he showed at Georgia Tech and then in the minor leagues:

Through the first 22 games of 2014, Wieters had a slash line of .337/.372/.570, up from his career averages of .257/.321/.425. He’s also bashed five home runs and driven in 18 runs, which are both second on the team behind veteran slugger Nelson Cruz.   

Taking his bat out of the lineup would undoubtedly hurt the Orioles offensively, and that could adversely affect their hopes of remaining atop what is a congested AL East.

This injury could also hurt Wieters in a big way, if he does in fact miss major time. With the way he’s hitting the ball, missing games may mean failing to replicate his hot start once he returns.

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Final Predictions for MLB Players Headed for Arbitration Hearings

In baseball terms, “file and trial” is a way of describing teams willing to go through the arbitration-hearing process with their young, ascending talents. With salary numbers exchanged, the real fun begins for the players still without a final salary for the 2014 MLB season.

As the season approaches, the following players have one more hurdle to clear before workouts, exhibition games and preparation for the 2014 season can commence: a battle for salary against their employers.

Over the years, arbitration wars have turned ugly, souring the relationship between team, agent and player.

The following stars are all on the path to arbitration hearings. When the dust settles, salary will be determined for 2014, but an uncertain future could present itself along the way.


Statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise noted. All contract figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts. Arbitration numbers and projections courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors.

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Second-Half Predictions for Every Baltimore O’S Player

We’ve reached the midway point in the 2013 MLB season, and the Baltimore Orioles have provided plenty of intrigue during the first few months.

There have been plenty of surprises (Manny Machado’s doubles, Chris Davis’ home runs) and just as many disappointments (pitching struggles, injuries) throughout the season so far, as baseball often provides.

Heading into the second half, one interesting thing to keep an eye on will be whether or not players having strong years can keep that going as well as struggling players turning their years around.

Let’s take a look at how I think the second half of the season will treat every Orioles player.

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