DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Rockies acquired veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, a move that bolsters their young rotation.
In exchange, the Rockies sent reliever Matt Lindstrom and right-hander Jason Hammel to the Orioles.
Guthrie, the Orioles’ opening day starter three of the last four seasons, lost 17 games last season, the most in the American League, and finished with a 4.33 ERA.
He agreed to a one-year, $8.2 million contract with the Rockies, avoiding an arbitration hearing that had been scheduled for Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. Guthrie, who turns 33 in April, is eligible to become a free agent after the season.
“They got two great arms,” Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd said. “But we got a guy we feel fits in with our younger pitchers very well.”
The acquisition of Guthrie certainly gives the Rockies another experienced pitcher in their rotation, especially with lefty Jorge De La Rosa still mending after elbow surgery that sidelined him last season.
Guthrie will be in the mix to start on opening day along with hard-throwing righty Jhoulys Chacin, the ace of the staff last season. Chacin is part of the Rockies’ young stable of arms, which also includes Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, who were acquired in the deal last summer that sent Ubaldo Jimenez to the Cleveland Indians.
The presence of Guthrie may also save some wear and tear on the bullpen, given that he’s logged at least 200 innings for the Orioles in each of the last three seasons.
“We’ve been trying to find an innings-eater and somebody who’s pitched at the top of a rotation,” O’Dowd said. “Someone who understands how to handle that. Certainly, in Jeremy’s case, he’s been that type of player with the Orioles.”
Colorado has been steadily stockpiling potential starters all winter. Last month, the team traded outfielder Seth Smith to the Oakland Athletics for right-hander Guillermo Moscoso and lefty Josh Outman.
The Rockies also picked up right-hander Tyler Chatwood from the Los Angeles Angels in late November for catcher Chris Iannetta.
“The success of the season will depend a lot on the maturity of our younger pitchers,” O’Dowd said.
Guthrie was caught off-guard by the trade, especially with spring training just around the corner. He was all set to head to Florida for a little baseball and beach time. Now, it’s off to Arizona.
“It was bittersweet,” said Guthrie, who’s been working out near Salt Lake City, throwing bullpen sessions in cold weather. “I appreciate my teammates and the fans in Baltimore. ... I’m very excited at the prospects of coming to Colorado and pitching for a team built to win now. I hope I can go in there and do what I do and help the team.”
Given that Guthrie was free to bolt after this season, Orioles Executive Vice President Dan Duquette felt it was simply the right time to make a move.
“We explored the market for Jeremy,” Duquette said in a teleconference. “We felt this would be the best deal to help our team. We are adding to the pitching staff pitchers who have good command and quality stuff.”
Hammel was solid for the Rockies last season as he was shuffled between the bullpen and the rotation. He was 7-13 with a 4.67 ERA in 32 appearances.
The 29-year-old is quite familiar with the American League East as well after starting his career with the Tampa Bay Rays before joining the Rockies.
“I’m going to have to learn some new guys,” Hammel said. “But no matter what league or division you’re playing in, the game doesn’t change. It all comes down to execution and making pitches.”
Lindstrom is a former closer whom the Rockies relied on to bridge the gap to their late-inning relievers. He went 2-2 with a career-best 3.00 ERA in his first season in the Mile High City.
The 27-year-old has 45 career saves with the Marlins, Astros and Rockies.
“I definitely look forward to the opportunity of getting out there and helping close games down, whether it be in the seventh, eighth or ninth,” Lindstrom said. “I try to use the same mind-frame and approach every time I go out there. I definitely look forward to the opportunity to maybe get some of those save chances, for sure.”
To make room on their roster, the Orioles designated lefty Clay Rapada for assignment.
Duquette also said the Orioles have had some exploratory talks with the agent for Manny Ramirez, who applied for reinstatement to Major League Baseball last month.
The slugger was suspended for 100 games last year but the ban was trimmed to 50 because he sat out nearly all of last season. The suspension would start with the first game he is eligible to play after signing with a club.
“We’re aware that Manny is on the market,” Duquette said. “We’ve seen Manny work out. We’re still considering the composition of this club and some of the challenges of integrating a player like Manny into our ball club and market.”