Jair Jurrjens signing: Orioles make good bet

Kevin C. Cox

The Orioles made a good bet in signing right-hander Jair Jurrjens.

The Baltimore Orioles have spent the entire offseason in search of a veteran arm to add to their relatively young starting rotation. Yesterday they found there pitcher in the form of right-hander Jair Jurrjens.

Prior to Jurrjens' signing, the Orioles were tied to veteran free agents such as Joe Saunders and Kyle Lohse, as well as Detroit Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. They instead opted for Jurrjens, who ultimately cost the team less in the way of salary or prospects.

In signing Jurrjens, general manager Dan Duquette continued his string of low-cost additions. Someone like Saunders, Lohse or even Porcello would likely have been a safer bet. However, each player carried with them a greater price tag than Jurrjens.

Instead, the Orioles wound up with the enigma that's been Jurrjens on a one-year, $1.5 million guaranteed contract.

The soon-to-be 27-year-old finished the 2009 season with a 2.60 ERA over 34 starts. That mark ballooned to 4.64 in 2010, but the right-hander was one of the best arms in the league to start the 2011 campaign. Unfortunately for the Braves and Jurrjens, this run was cut short by injury issues which carried over into his awful 2012 season.

So which pitcher are the Orioles getting?

That remains to be determined, but at the price they are committed it's a good bet to make. He can slot anywhere from the bottom to near the top of their current crop of starters depending on how he performs, and he provides the team with a higher ceiling than someone like Saunders at a fraction of the cost.

Last season, Duquette's unassuming, prudent moves -- and perhaps a helping of luck -- generated a 93-win team. We'll see if this trend continues or if those calling for increased investments are ultimately proven correct.

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