O's set to fill shortstop spot with Izturis
Veteran reportedly agrees to two-year deal pending physical
LAS VEGAS -- Multiple sources are reporting that the Orioles have reached agreement with shortstop Cesar Izturis on a two-year deal worth around $6 million, a story first reported by The Baltimore Sun and echoed by ESPN. The Izturis deal has not yet been announced by the Orioles and is believed to hinge on a physical examination.
Izturis, who had ligament replacement surgery on his throwing elbow at the end of the 2005 season, has been mostly healthy over the past two years. The 28-year-old veteran played in 110 games in 2007 and 135 this past season, and he has one All-Star berth (2005) and one Gold Glove Award (2004) at shortstop on his resume.
Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, would not comment on the matter of the Izturis deal, but he did allow Tuesday night that the Orioles are somewhat satisfied with their progress in the area.
"The shortstop, we think we made progress on," MacPhail said. "We're happy where we are."
Shortstop has been a major problem for Baltimore since last winter's trade of Miguel Tejada, a transaction that turned the position over to lightly-tested rookie Luis Hernandez. Hernandez lost the job early in the season, and the Orioles subsequently tried Brandon Fahey, Freddie Bynum, Alex Cintron and Juan Castro as the starter.
Izturis, by contrast, has been a starter for most of his seven full seasons in the big leagues. The switch-hitter has never batted above .300, registered an on-base percentage higher than .330 or a slugging percentage better than .400, but the Orioles are desperately seeking stability at the position and think Izturis can deliver it.
The Venezuela native made his debut with the Blue Jays, but has spent most of his career in the National League.
Baltimore has been active thus far at the Winter Meetings, evaluating the available pitchers and trading Ramon Hernandez to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for utilityman Ryan Freel and two prospects. And once the Izturis deal is official, the Orioles will turn their full attention to fleshing out their starting rotation.
"There are things that we felt we needed to do," said MacPhail, apprising his team's progress in his Tuesday night interaction with the media. "One of them we've done, the second one we're satisfied with our progress to date. The third one, we knew it was going to be the longest and filled with the most variables."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.