Late last night the Baltimore Orioles re-signed infielder Alexi Casilla to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. The Orioles had previously non-tendered Casilla as opposed to picking up his option for 2014, however now they have him back in the organization at a much cheaper rate. However before people start saying that this is the owner cheaping out again, there’s something that fans should keep in mind. While Buck Showalter is planning on having Manny Machado ready for opening day, that’s still up in the air. Machado sustained a very serious knee injury, and there’s a chance that in fact he won’t be ready come March 31st. So now I have you asking how that’s related to Casilla, right?!
Personally I believe that the unofficial plan has been to give Ryan Flaherty a shot at the everyday second base job going into this season. If Flaherty is able to be the everyday second baseman moving forward, Jonathan Schoop becomes a great trade chip moving forward for the Orioles. And by that, I mean potentially this year in June or July. However with Machado’s injury last September it became obvious that someone else MIGHT have to be playing third base at the beginning of 2014. Flaherty is able to play all four infield positions, and he finished the season at third base in Machado’s stead last year. So if Machado isn’t able to go coming out of spring training, Flaherty would probably be the franchises best option at the hot corner.
Granted the Orioles got Jermile Weeks in a trade, and of course Schoop. However signing Casilla
gives them depth within the organization at second base, and it also allows them to have a player that they can move around to and from the minors when necessary. I suppose my point is that fans shouldn’t worry about seeing Casilla at the big league level for too long – if people think that he was (re-) signed to be the everyday second baseman, they’re just wrong. But the scenario(s) I laid out above does stand to show people how one little ripple in the organization can cause a bit problem. Incidentally this is not to say that Schoop is on the trade docket, however theoretically speaking if they found that they have a decent second baseman in Ryan Flaherty that would make Schoop expendable if the Orioles were looking to make a deal at some point.