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Nearly All 2017 Orioles Free Agents Remain Unsigned

February 7, 2018
It's been an unusually slow offseason for free agents, and particularly for those who played on the 2017 Baltimore Orioles.
 
Just one of the 10 free agents from last year's team, catcher Welington Castillo, has signed.
 
Castillo, who had an excellent season with career highs of 20 home runs and a .282 average while throwing out a major-league best 49 percent of base stealers, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with an option for 2020 with the Chicago White Sox Dec. 1.
 
But more than two months after his signing, Castillo, who didn't invoke his $7 million option to play for the Orioles in 2018, still stands alone among his teammates from last season.
 
With less than a week before spring training begins in Sarasota, Fla., Feb. 13, nine of the 2017 Orioles are unsigned.
 
Chris Tillman has gotten the most buzz among them. After a down season in 2017, the right-hander has intrigued several teams, but it seems there's continued mutual interest between Tillman and the Orioles.
 
At January's minicamp, Tillman was spotted working out, and manager Buck Showalter said the team agreed to let the 29-year-old, who went 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA last season, work out because he lives in Sarasota. Showalter also acknowledged that the team wouldn't mind a reunion.
 
Since the Orioles seem to have at least two openings in the starting rotation, it would make sense, and even seems likely, that Tillman would fill one of them.
 
There's been considerably less buzz regarding three other former Orioles -- right-handers Jeremy Hellickson and Ubaldo Jimenez and left-hander Wade Miley.
 
Of the three, only Miley has reportedly drawn some interest, most recently from the Minnesota Twins.
 
In the Orioles' final home game of last season, longtime shortstop J.J. Hardy received a warm ovation. Hardy, who homered in that game, has never been a free agent, and at 35, is working out at his Arizona home in case there's an attractive offer.
 
Utility infielder Ryan Flaherty is still without a 2018 team, but at FanFest Jan. 27, Orioles executive vice president for baseball operations Dan Duquette said the team remained in contact with Flaherty.
 
Flaherty's college teammate and close friend Pedro Alvarez hasn't signed, either. A year ago, Alvarez signed a minor league contract with the Orioles March 13.
 
The team hoped he could play right field, but after a month at Triple-A Norfolk, that experiment was abandoned.
 
Alvarez stayed with Norfolk until Sept. 1 and hit .313 in 14 games. While the Orioles still have a glaring need for a left-handed hitter, they don't seem to have a spot for the 31-year-old, who has received a warm endorsement as an excellent teammate from Showalter.
 
Outfielders Craig Gentry and Seth Smith are unsigned, too. At minicamp, Showalter said there could be a possible reunion with Gentry, who was an extra outfielder for much of 2017. Last year, Gentry didn't sign with the Orioles until the early days of spring training.
 
Despite being a left-handed hitter and recording a .340 on-base percentage in 2017, neither the Orioles nor anyone else has expressed a reported desire to sign the 35-year-old Smith.
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox