Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota tomorrow, but recently signed Jair Jurrjens likely won’t be one of them. The Birds signed Jurrjens to a one year, $1.5 million contract on January 24, but the deal still hasn’t been officially announced due to concerns in his physical.
Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports that Jurrjens’ right knee has raised red flags in the Orioles front office, the same knee that has bothered him for the past two seasons.
As for Jurrjens, it is becoming increasingly unclear whether the one-year deal between him and the Orioles will come to fruition. Vetting his physical has become a week-long process and it doesn’t seem like it’s heading in a positive direction.
The Orioles have long had concerns about Jurrjens’ health, especially the strength of his right knee. That dates back to last offseason, when the team tested the trade waters with the Braves in a possible deal involving Adam Jones. And that was before the velocity on his fastball continued to diminish and he pitched to a 6.89 ERA last season. They were concerned then, and they’re concerned now.
It’s been a strange offseason for these type of injuries. Mike Napoli’s hip injury held up his contract with the Boston Red Sox and voided his original three year, $39 million deal. This season he’ll make a base salary of $5 million.
Felix Hernandez appeared to be on the verge of signing a $175 million contract extension with Seattle, but an elbow issue has put that deal on hold as well.
So what’s to come for the Orioles and Jurrjens? Will they throw out his deal and offer him a minor league contract? Will they keep this original deal and hope he’s healed by opening day? Or will he float out in the free agent market for another team?
After losing Joe Saunders to the aforementioned Mariners, the Orioles are going to need Jurrjens to compete for a spot in their starting five. I know they have the depth with Jason Hammel, Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Miguel Gonzalez, Zach Britton, Jake Arrieta, Steve Johnson, Brian Matusz and even Dylan Bundy, but I’m concerned about the quality of this staff. Having Jurrjens compete with those nine guys is important.