The Baltimore Orioles yesterday agreed to terms with free agent left-hander Omar Daal on a two-year contract, remedying a glaring hole in their roster: The Orioles have not had a left-handed starting pitcher in their rotation on a regular basis since Jimmy Key in 1998.
Daal, who will turn 31 in March, was 11-9 with a 3.91 ERA in 39 appearances last season for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and has amassed 10 or more wins in three of the past four seasons, the exception being a disastrous 2000 season in which he was 4-19 with a 6.14 ERA for Arizona and Philadelphia.
He will likely undergo a physical examination in Baltimore this afternoon, and the signing could be announced by early evening.
"One of the club's needs, as expressed by [Manager] Mike Hargrove and others -- and my own feeling as well -- is that we needed a left-handed starter," said Vice President of Baseball Operations Mike Flanagan, a left-hander during an 18-year major league career. "We're happy to add a lefty. It's something we've needed. And he doesn't have much exposure in this league."
Flanagan said the team envisions Daal as its number two starter, presumably behind right-hander Rodrigo Lopez, last year's runner-up for American League rookie of the year. The rest of the team's rotation is expected to come from a group that includes right-handers Sidney Ponson, Jason Johnson, Scott Erickson, Pat Hentgen, Sean Douglass and John Stephens.
The Orioles did not have a single game last season started by a left-handed pitcher and only six in 2001 (five by Chuck McElroy, one by John Parrish). Key was the last left-hander with a regular spot in the Orioles' rotation, and he made only 11 starts in 1998 because of injuries, eventually retiring after the season.
Daal becomes the second free agent signing of the winter for the Orioles, following shortstop Deivi Cruz, whom they signed to a one-year deal during last month's winter meetings.
Their efforts to obtain one or two power hitters have been fruitless, despite their making offers to Cliff Floyd, Edgardo Alfonzo, Hideki Matsui and Ivan Rodriguez. All but Rodriguez have signed elsewhere, and Rodriguez's agent cut off negotiations with the Orioles following their initial offer.
Flanagan and Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Jim Beattie have turned their attention to trade possibilities and the lists of players who were not tendered contracts by their teams in their quest to add power to one of the league's weakest offenses in 2002.