Left-hander Danny Coulombe, a breakout reliever for the Orioles last season, agreed to terms on a 2024 contract that includes a club option for 2025, avoiding an arbitration hearing.

Coulombe, in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility, was set to be a free agent at the end of the 2024 season. Now, Baltimore has the option to keep the southpaw around.

The Orioles have in recent years made club options something of a team policy for players who don’t agree to a salary before the arbitration deadline. The club can lock in a team-friendly price for the following season and the player avoids going to an arbitration hearing.

At last week’s Birdland Caravan, Executive Vice President and General Manager Mike Elias said he would rather not offer one-year deals after the deadline has passed because it drags the process out.

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Coulombe filed with the league’s office asking for a $2.4 million contract in 2024; the Orioles filed at $2.2 million, according to ESPN. An arbitrator would have selected one of those two figures in a hearing, but the sides resolved the contract situation independently.

Coulombe was a late addition to the Orioles in 2023, joining at the very end of spring training in a cash-trade deal with the Minnesota Twins. The 34-year-old excelled, posting a 2.81 ERA in 61 appearances. Coulombe quickly ascended into a high-leverage role because of his 1.110 WHIP and his 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.

“I was really happy with it,” Coulombe said last week at a Birdland Caravan event. “I’m a perfectionist. There’s things I know I can get better at. But, no, I was really happy with the way it went. I really enjoyed the role, and I’m excited to get it rolling again.”

Coulombe has spent the offseason working on pitch sequencing, ensuring he’s throwing the right pitches at the right times. But beyond that, Coulombe isn’t adjusting much of his mechanics or how he throws certain pitches.

Part of what made Coulombe so effective was his ability to live in the strike zone. He walked just 12 batters in 51 1/3 innings. And he mixed his offerings well, relying mainly on a cutter but also showing a knuckle curve, sinker, sweeper, four-seam fastball and change-up.

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“I threw all six of my pitches [in 2023],” Coulombe said, “and as a reliever, that’s kind of rare. So, I think they [the Orioles’ pitching coaches] said, ‘Hey, go be you,’ and that’s why I was successful.”

Baltimore avoided arbitration hearings with eight players ahead of the deadline, and they’ve since signed left-hander Cionel Pérez to a similar one-year deal plus a team option. Hearings start Tuesday and run into mid-February, leaving time for deals to potentially be struck with outfielder Austin Hays, infielder Ryan O’Hearn and right-hander Jacob Webb.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville. 

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