Orioles add reliever Accardo, continue to pursue first baseman

Right-hander pitched in just five games for Blue Jays last season; Adam LaRoche is top target at first

December 14, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

In an effort to improve their 2011 roster, the Orioles have added former Toronto Blue Jays right-handed reliever Jeremy Accardo on a one-year, $1.08 million deal, pending a physical, and are continuing to pursue a free-agent first baseman.

Adam LaRoche, who hit 25 homers and drove in 100 runs for the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, appears to be the club's top candidate at first base, and the team is continuing to talk to his representatives.

The Orioles also have spoken to representatives for former Atlanta Braves first baseman Derrek Lee. It's believed Lee, 35, is seeking a one-year deal, while LaRoche, 31, is in line for a two-year contract. Free-agent first baseman Lyle Overbay is off the board after signing a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday.

The Orioles hope to bolster their depleted bullpen by adding a left-hander and perhaps another late-inning reliever. Last week, the Orioles made a two-year offer in the $8 million to $10 million range to former Blue Jays right-handed closer Kevin Gregg, who remains a free agent.

Adding Accardo is a low-risk move for a club that traded four right-handed relievers, including three who were on the 40-man roster, last week to obtain third baseman Mark Reynolds from Arizona and shortstop J.J. Hardy from the Minnesota Twins.

Accardo, 28, pitched in five games for the Blue Jays in 2010, compiling an 0-1 record and 8.10 ERA in 62/3 big league innings. After missing much of 2008 with forearm soreness, Accardo found himself stuck in the minors for most of the past two seasons, working as the closer for the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s.

It was a departure from 2007, when Accardo took over Toronto's closer duties from former Oriole B.J. Ryan and saved 30 games while posting a 2.14 ERA. In August, while in Las Vegas after a brief and unsuccessful stint with the Blue Jays in April, Accardo said he felt he had been lied to by Blue Jays management about his chances of playing for the big league team.

He wasn't promoted in September and was nontendered this offseason instead of being offered arbitration. Even if he stays on the Orioles' major league roster all of next season, he'll still have a year of arbitration remaining, meaning he can remain under club control through 2012.

"Jeremy was excited this offseason for the first time to have a chance to choose his employer," said Accardo's agent, Damon Lapa of All Bases Covered Sports Management. "He embraces the chance to start fresh with a new organization, and he was very much impressed with the Orioles and their management."

At this point, Accardo is expected to be used as a middle reliever and setup man.

Coincidentally, Accardo's pitching coach at Las Vegas this season was Dave LaRoche, the father of Adam LaRoche. Perhaps the Orioles' best connection to the first baseman, however, is Reynolds, who was LaRoche's teammate last season with the Diamondbacks.

"[I] shot him a text message the other day. I was like, 'Come to Baltimore with me.' He just kind of laughed and said, 'Ha ha.'" Reynolds said at the Orioles' annual Holiday Party for Kids on Tuesday. "He didn't tell me much. That's all I said to him. I think he would definitely be a great addition to the team. He's a great guy. He was a good fit in our clubhouse. He's a great first baseman and a good hitter. I think he can help any team."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

twitter.com/danconnollysun

Baltimore Sun reporter Jeff Zrebiec contributed to article.

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