Jair Jurrjens is eager to jump into a crowded Orioles rotation competition come spring training.
The former Atlanta Braves right-hander — who agreed to terms with the Orioles on a one-year deal this week — said he feels healthy for the first time in years. And he hopes to recapture the promise that made him one of the game’s top up-and-coming pitchers.
According to industry sources, the Orioles agreed to a one-year deal with Jurrjens that would pay him a guaranteed $1.5 million this season, pending a physical. The deal also includes $2.5 million in incentives.
The signing likely won’t be announced until next week. A physical has yet to be scheduled, and it likely won't be conducted until the middle of the week.
After a rocky end to his career in Atlanta — he was non-tendered after pitching to a 6.89 ERA in 2012 — Jurrjens said he’s happy to have a new beginning in Baltimore.
“I wanted a young team with a veteran manager,” Jurrjens said Friday evening. “That’s all I was thinking. When my agent said Baltimore was interested, I said, ‘Wow,’ especially with the run they made last year. That’s a group of guys that I want to play with and I want to be teammates with. I’m excited to be an Oriole.
“I know it’s a really great baseball town,” he added. “I saw them play in the playoffs last year, and I saw how much heart they put into every game. It was something special. They went up against the Yankees and they gave it everything they had.”
Jurrjens, who will turn 27 next week, will join a rotation mix that could include as many as 11 candidates.
“I’m really not worrying about the competition,” he said. “I’m just going to go in and be me. I want to impress them and win a spot, but it’s a part of baseball. Everything is a competition. I’m ready and I’m excited for and I’m just going to try to do the best I can and try to help this team out.
Even though he’s listed on the Netherlands’ provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic, Jurrjens said he is undecided on whether he will compete.
“It’s a 50-50 feeling right now,” Jurrjens said. “I still want to play with my friends and represent my country, but I’m with a new team and I really want to bond with them and get the chemistry going in spring training.”
Adding Jurrjens will give the Orioles more organizational depth. He can be sent to the minors this season, and the Orioles can retain him for 2014, which will be his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Jurrjens was 12-3 with a 1.87 ERA in the first half of the 2011 season and was selected to the National League All-Star team. But knee problems plagued him in the second half of that season. Jurrjens had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus after the 2010 season.
He spent a majority of last season in the minors, sent to Triple-A Gwinnett after he was unable to get out of the fifth inning in three of his first four starts. He rejoined the Braves in mid-June, but returned to Triple-A in August. He made just 11 major league appearances in 2012, going 3-4. His average fastball velocity, which was 88.6 mph last season, dropped 2.5 mph since the 2010 season.
“I’ve been able to do more stuff [this offseason] than I’ve been able to do the last couple years,” Jurrjens said. “I’m doing my bullpens early again; I’m doing a throwing program early again. I’m back on my old schedule and we don’t need to worry about my knee any more and [can] just concentrate on getting stronger.
“[Last season], my mechanics were off and I was a little weak in my leg and they caused a bad year. I’ve made sure I need to target what I need to target and I’m going to be ready to go this year.”
Lindstrom and Paulino sign elsewhere
The Chicago White Sox announced Friday that they have agreed to terms with former Orioles reliever Matt Lindstrom on a one-year, $2.8 million contract that includes a club option for 2014.
The right-hander went 1-0 with a 2.72 ERA in 34 appearances for the Orioles last season before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in August in the deal for lefty Joe Saunders.
The Orioles had some interest in bringing Lindstrom back this offseason.
The Seattle Mariners announced Friday that they have signed catcher Ronny Paulino to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league spring training. Paulino played in 20 games for the Orioles last season and spent much of the year at Triple-A Norfolk, electing free agency in October.