The Baltimore Orioles yesterday signed veteran knuckleballer Wade LeBlanc to a minor league contract. He’s expected to compete for a starting job, and will be in camp in a few weeks once it starts. If he makes the Orioles, his contract would allow him to make up to $800,000.
LeBlanc made 27 starts for Seattle last year, going 9-5. He also pitched to a 5.71 ERA, which has a lot to be desired. However this is a low risk move by the Orioles, given that it’s a minor league contract. Another interesting aspect of this is that LeBlanc had other teams interested and picked the Orioles. Might that be a nod to the positive culture that’s being created?
It very well could be. I personally noticed that the O’s came together a bit during the final two months of last year. That doesn’t mean that they won more games, but they looked more like a team. So I might believe that wanting to be a part of what’s going on in Baltimore played a role. However I suspect that LeBlanc also saw an opportunity to start in the big leagues.
The real interesting thing is that he’s a knuckleballer. I think that’s something that could truly be an asset for an Orioles’ rotation that lacked depth last year. Teams will have to be wary of the fact that he’s a knuckler, and prepare for it. This of course assuming that he makes the team and the rotation in spring training.