The Orioles will sign Jose Iglesias to a one-year contract to fill their shortstop vacancy, according to multiple reports.
The agreement is for one year and $3 million, as first reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. The deal includes a $3 million club option for 2021, according to Feinsand.
Iglesias, who is considered a plus defender at short, will fill a key hole in the Orioles’ infield. After Jonathan Villar was traded to the Miami Marlins, the Orioles had few players with big-league experience at shortstop. Richie Martin, who played 117 games at shortstop last year, is likely ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk to develop his bat. That left Hanser Alberto (22 big-league games) and Pat Valaika (38) as the only infielders on the 40-man roster with experience at shortstop.
Iglesias, an eight-year veteran, was signed by the Boston Red Sox out of Cuba in 2009 and made his big-league debut for the Red Sox in 2011. He carved out a regular role with the Red Sox in 2013 before being traded to the Detroit Tigers as part of a three-team deal that sent right-hander Jake Peavy to Boston. Iglesias split the 2013 season with the Red Sox and Tigers, finishing second in the American League Rookie of the Year voting year thanks to his sterling defensive play and decent bat (.303/.349/.386).
Iglesias, 30, missed the 2014 season due to stress fractures in his shins, but he’s been a steady shortstop since returning to health. He’s racked up at least 454 plate appearances in each of the last five seasons, hitting .273/.313/.375 during that time. He spent the 2019 season with the Cincinnati Reds, swatting a career-high 11 homers.
But where Iglesias really makes a difference is in the field. Because of his glove, he’s been worth at least 1.5 wins above replacement in each of his six full seasons, according to Fangraphs. His defense should help out an Orioles pitching staff that struggled mightily last season.
The Orioles also recently signed right-hander Kohl Stewart, who should compete for a spot in the rotation. Stewart, 25, was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2013 MLB Draft. He had a 3.68 ERA in 36.2 innings in 2018 but posted a 6.39 ERA in 25.1 innings in 2019.