Orioles bring back Wade LeBlanc; Grant Jackson dies at 78 - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles bring back Wade LeBlanc; Grant Jackson dies at 78

Even before the Orioles made the official announcement of Alex Cobb’s trade to the Los Angeles Angels, the team took a small step to replace him.

According to a report by Jon Morosi of MLB Network, which was confirmed by an industry source, the Orioles re-signed left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a minor league contract. He’ll have a $700,000 base salary.

The Orioles also signed LeBlanc, 36, to a minor league contract just over a year ago, on February 1, 2019. LeBlanc was the first of two minor league signings. Tommy Milone was signed later that month, and they both made the team.

The Orioles were LeBlanc’s eighth major league club. He was 1-0 with an 8.06 ERA in six starts before he suffered a season-ending elbow injury after throwing just 13 pitches on August 23rd.

Since news broke that the Orioles were trading Cobb, 33,  it seemed logical that executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias would seek another veteran for the starting rotation. But LeBlanc’s return is a surprise.

A year ago, LeBlanc was one of the candidates to replace right-hander Dylan Bundy, who was traded to the Angels in December 2019. After the trade, the rotation looked thin.

John Means, who had a surprisingly successful rookie season, and Cobb, returning after a year lost to hip and knee surgeries, were the only known quantities.

Besides Means and Cobb, there was journeyman right-hander Asher Wojciechowski and question marks. Kohl Stewart, who had six major league starts, was a possibility for the fourth starter and Rule 5 right-handers Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker appeared to be in the mix.

So was Thomas Eshelman, who had started four games and been dropped from the 40-man roster, and Ty Blach and Chandler Shepherd, who had combined for eight starts but also weren’t on the 40-man roster.

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David Hess, who had lost 10 of 11 decisions in 2019, got another look, as did Brady Rodgers, who started one game for Houston in 2016.

Then came the signings of LeBlanc and Milone. Means, Cobb, LeBlanc, Milone and Wojciechowski became the starters.

LeBlanc joins Means, rookie left-hander Keegan Akin, who started six times late last season, and right-hander Dean Kremer, who had four starts.

But these potential starters are better than the ones the Orioles had last year.

Akin and Kremer were in camp last year, but they weren’t serious contenders to begin the season with the Orioles.

This year, right-hander Michael Baumann and left-handers Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells will be there. Like Akin and Kremer a year ago, they’re not considered contenders to begin the season with the Orioles on April 1st.

Eshelman is back again on a minor league deal after he went 3-1 with a 3.89 ERA. Two more Rule 5 right-handers, Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, will try to make the team.

Jorge López, a right-hander who started six games last season, and Bruce Zimmermann, a left-hander who had just one start, are also possibilities.

It’s likely Elias will sign more starting candidates to at least serve as placeholders for the young talent the team thinks is on the rise.

A year from now, Means might be joined by Akin, Kremer and Zimmermann, and/or Baumann, Lowther and Wells. On the way, are 2017’s first-round pick, left-hander DL Hall, and 2018’s top choice, Grayson Rodriguez.

The overall pitching talent in the Orioles’ camp, which begins in Sarasota, Florida on February 16th, will be better than it was last year. It should be even better in 2022.

Remembering Grant Jackson: Grant Jackson, who had a successful six-year stint with the Orioles, died on Tuesday at 78. The Pirates, with whom he also spent parts of six seasons, said Jackson’s death was due to COVID-19 complications.

From 1971-1976, Jackson, a left-hander, was 24-12 with a 2.81 ERA and 39 saves for the Orioles.

Jackson was traded to the Orioles by Philadelphia in 1970 along with utilityman Jim Hutto and outfielder Sam Parilla for outfielder Roger Freed.

Freed had terrific minor league power numbers in the Orioles’ organization but couldn’t break into their major league outfield rotation. He played parts of eight seasons in the majors, but Jackson’s career was far better. It was an excellent trade for the Orioles.

Jackson was part of an even better trade for the Orioles in June 1976, when he, Elrod Hendricks, right-hander Doyle Alexander and left-handers Jimmy Freeman and Ken Holtzman were sent to the New York Yankees for catcher Rick Dempsey, left-handers Scott McGregor, Tippy Martinez and Rudy May, and right-hander Dave Pagan.

In 1979, Jackson won Game 7 of the World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He appeared in four games of the Series, allowing just one hit in 4 2/3 innings.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Orial

    February 3, 2021 at 8:29 am

    I know the O’s will be looking to add a journeyman pitcher after trading Cobb–but LeBlanc? Ouch. We’ll see. That $million threshold is a back-breaker I guess. Lotta pressure gonna be put on these young arms(Akin,Kremer,etc.) but that’s ok I suppose. RIP Mr. Jackson–you got to see the O’s/Pirates rivalry from both duggouts.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    February 3, 2021 at 8:55 am

    Wade LeBlanc? I get it …. this is a comedy .. isn’t it?

    • CalsPals

      February 3, 2021 at 10:22 am

      Wasn’t he on “Friends”?…LOL…go O’s…

    • Bhoffman1

      February 3, 2021 at 3:30 pm

      Is there something wrong with a 8.06 ERA

    • WorldlyView

      February 3, 2021 at 4:32 pm

      BRR: Not a comedy. Wade’s signing is the latest move in a social experiment to see how dreadful the current O’s team has to be in order for the cheerful “it’s ALL about developing the farm system” crowd to become critical of the scorched earth short-term strategy. Since some commentators here accepted the signing of Mr. 8.06 ERA and still focus exclusively on future possibilities, look for management to take the next step in the experiment: trading Mancini and Santander for, what else, more prospects. Even this move to more talent drain and less payroll might not quell the “a rebuild takes several years and current quality of play is of minor importance, so stop carping about the short-to-medium” assertions. If so, look for Means to be swapped out and be replaced by the return of Ubaldo.

      • Tileman

        February 3, 2021 at 4:46 pm

        We’ve tried the CD “Lets buy a championship” way. How’s that working for us??

        • BirdsCaps

          February 3, 2021 at 6:51 pm

          They never tried to buy a championship. I’m a little biased, but I assume either Angelos was a complete moron, and thought CD was worth the contract, or he wanted to give the illusion of spending money, so not resigning more expensive pieces such as Machado wouldn’t come across as the birds being complete cheapskates. Hopefully the future will be better.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 4, 2021 at 10:26 am

            Signing CD was ownerships knee-jerk reaction to blistering fan backlash for failing to re-sign Nelson Cruz. It’s simple as that.

  3. Tileman

    February 3, 2021 at 9:03 am

    Come on BRR I know you know The Oriole Way when we had the best farm system in the majors. It was fun watching the O’s smack around the woeful Yanks and Sox every year. This is the closest we’ve been to The Oriole Way since Earl retired. Hopefully with our farm system now ranked in the top 10 we can see winning more than losing for the next two decades. Patience my man. Let’s lose some today to win a lot more tomorrow.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      February 3, 2021 at 10:53 am

      Sure, I’m more than happy to see progress being made on the farm, but what does that have to do with losing on the major league level? The only correlation I can make between the two is if you’re tanking for draft position.

      Did you watch LeBlanc throw last year? As soon as Mike Elias discounts ticket prices, I’ll stop complaining about signings like this one.

  4. mmcmillan1123

    February 3, 2021 at 9:04 am

    I told you the O’s would walk into a vet nobody else wanted. There had to be at least one. Why waste the money. If you want the young pitching to get more games in. Hopefully, the next year or two will be the time to sign better veteran pitching.

  5. B.C. Bird

    February 3, 2021 at 9:08 am

    The more things change, the more they stay the same
    keep the faith

  6. BarstoolSleeper

    February 3, 2021 at 9:32 am

    You need more than 5 starters in today’s game to complete a full season. Leblanc fits the mold the Os are looking for. This year is about further developing the young arms and getting a couple of veterans to eat some innings. I agree with you Tileman.

    • Tileman

      February 3, 2021 at 4:55 pm

      Here’s my take – why spend your dry powder on a guy to fill a slot who isn’t in the long term plan especially since the Orioles aren’t contending for post season passes this year.
      Let some filler with potential aka the Cobb trade have a shot.
      Once the O’s field a team with their top prospects then drop the hammer to bring in a couple the studs that gets us to the party.

      • WorldlyView

        February 3, 2021 at 5:56 pm

        Mr. T: In the interim, management has dropped the hammer on the collective heads of those O’s fans not welcoming a team that will contend for the record of most losses in a season.

        • Tileman

          February 4, 2021 at 8:11 am

          No pain no gain

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            February 4, 2021 at 10:28 am

            A loser’s rationalization. Not that you’re a loser … it’s the rationalization of losing.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 12:25 pm

      Then we must REALLY be gaining…LOL…go O’s…

  7. Tony Paparella

    February 3, 2021 at 10:00 am

    Not crazy about Leblanc at all but I suspect he is being signed because of his major league experience albeit there is nothing to brag about there. I hope the emphasis is to see what the youngsters have by bringing them up and putting them into the lineup by starting games.The more so called vets are in there that means someone is not getting a chance to show their wares. I think the time is now to start inserting the prospects and letting them get their feet wet. There may be a need for more patience from the fans but I am very optimistic there are some really qualified guys who will do ok. Condolences to Grant’s family and may he RIP.

  8. jimcarter

    February 3, 2021 at 10:54 am

    The rebuild marches on!??

  9. willmiranda

    February 3, 2021 at 10:58 am

    Thanks, Rich, for noting Grant Jackson’s passing. A solid player and man. One of the good guys who make following baseball a rewarding experience.

  10. NormOs

    February 3, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    They are going to pay LeBlanc 700K but wouldn’t give Alberto $1.2M? Genius 1 at work! What a STIFF!

  11. dlgruber1

    February 3, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    I’m gonna be keeping my eye on the pitching staff this season to see if it progresses at all. Of all the “cost saving” measures they’ve done this off season the most head scratching to me was getting rid of Brocail. I thought he did a terrific job with what he had to work with last season. The last thing the club can afford now is for the pitching staff to take a step backwards.

    • CalsPals

      February 3, 2021 at 6:58 pm

      I thought so too, was he pricing himself off the O’s with experience? I’m amazed at how some teams always seem to have great pitchers, other than the Yankees, they buyem when they get good…go O’s…

  12. Ekim

    February 3, 2021 at 8:12 pm

    Why bother? Why bother go to the park… or to even follow what promises to be another season to forget. It would not surprise me to see Santander and/or Mancini be traded for more of Elias’ treasured “prospects”. I’ll be dead before the
    O’s ever get to be even marginally competitive. (I’m 84)

    • Bhoffman1

      February 3, 2021 at 10:00 pm

      I feel for you brother. A rebuild can be a lot quicker if you sign a few decent veterans to mold in with the youngsters. Yes giving CD the massive contract was a colossal blunder so was the signing of Ubo and Cobb but that was old management. Owners serious about winning and growing the fan base would spend some money this year to improve the club especially when so many decent players are available. Instead we sign a guy with a 8.06 ERA and have no real major league third baseman

  13. tomnov

    February 4, 2021 at 1:29 am

    “But these potential starters are better than the ones the Orioles had last year.”

    That gives me about as much optimism as giving a new coat of paint to the junk car that doesn’t run.

    • CalsPals

      February 4, 2021 at 9:42 am

      Putting lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig…lol…go O’s….

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