Orioles add former All-Star pitcher, Gold Glove infielder on minor-league deals

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With Opening Day only a month away and a couple rotation spots potentially up for grabs, the Orioles have added a former All-Star pitcher to the mix.

On Wednesday, Baltimore officially announced a minor-league deal with veteran right-hander Julio Teheran that includes an invitation to major league camp as well as an opt-out clause. According to MLB Network, the agreement includes a $100,000 signing bonus and a $2 million salary if Teheran makes the major league club.

The Orioles also reached a minor-league agreement with two-time Gold Glove second baseman Kolten Wong, 33, that includes an invitation to spring training.

Last season, the 33-year-old Teheran pitched to a 4.40 ERA in 71 2/3 innings with Milwaukee that included 11 starts and three relief appearances. Those modest numbers reversed a dramatic multiyear decline that had followed his successful run in Atlanta that included All-Star selections in 2014 and 2016 and six straight Opening Day starts. Teheran pitched to a 10.05 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels in the abbreviated 2020 pandemic season and missed nearly all of 2021 with a shoulder injury, which led to him being out of the majors entirely two years ago.

From 2011-19, Teheran pitched to a 3.67 ERA over 1,360 innings and was worth 20.2 wins above replacement for the Braves.

With 2023 ace Kyle Bradish currently rehabbing a sprained UCL in his right elbow and lefty John Means not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season, the Orioles appear likely to turn to right-hander Tyler Wells and left-hander Cole Irvin to fill their last two rotation spots behind righties Corbin Burnes, Grayson Rodriguez, and Dean Kremer. However, Teheran could at least put himself in the long-relief conversation if he can build on what he did with the Brewers last season, which included 6.3 strikeouts and 1.6 walks per nine innings. He spent several weeks on the injured list with a hip impingement over the second half of last season before returning to make three relief appearances and ultimately being designated for assignment in late September.

Given the Orioles’ abundance of young infielders, Wong’s addition comes as a mild surprise, but he provides another lefty-swinging option at second base in the wake of Adam Frazier’s departure over the winter. After a fruitful eight-year run with St. Louis and two more strong seasons with the Brewers, Wong batted just .165 with a .468 on-base plus slugging percentage in 216 plate appearances with Seattle last year, which prompted the Mariners to release him in early August. Picked up by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Wong rebounded in limited action in September to go 9-for-30 and even had four plate appearances in the NL Division Series.

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In 2022, Wong batted .251 with a .770 OPS and a career-high 15 home runs in 497 plate appearances for Milwaukee.

The arrival of Wong coincides with the 20-year-old Jackson Holliday — the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball — trying to win the Opening Day job at second base after making only 20 starts there last season. At the very least, Wong would figure to be a positive influence on Holliday’s development at the position with the former having won Gold Gloves at second base in 2019 and 2020.

Wong was drafted by St. Louis in the first round in 2011, the final year general manager Mike Elias and assistant general manager Sig Mejdal spent with the Cardinals before departing with Jeff Luhnow for Houston.

In other roster news, outfielder Sam Hilliard was claimed off waivers by Colorado, which opened a spot on Baltimore’s 40-man roster.

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