Oft-injured Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold completes his latest 20-game minor league rehab assignment today, forcing the Orioles to soon make a decision about whether to add him to the 25-man roster, or expose him to waivers, allowing another team to claim him.
Reimold has been very productive during his time in AA Bowie, batting .340/.446/.520 over his last 16 games with two home runs and nine RBI.
However, the decision isn’t only about Reimold, it’s about what player the Orioles should demote or waive, if any, to make room for him.
With other players like the hot-hitting, right-handed OF/DH’s Steve Pearce and Delmon Young filling the same role on the team as Reimold would, why would the Orioles risk getting rid of anyone for Reimold, who has never played a full season in the major leagues?
Some would point to the weak-hitting David Lough or Ryan Flaherty as candidates for demotion, but each player is a valuable and versatile defensive backup at all three outfield positions, or all four non-battery infield positions, respectively. Without them, an injury to say, Adam Jones or J.J. Hardy, would leave the team vulnerable.
Reimold, on the other hand, can only play a corner outfield position or DH, exactly like Pearce and Young, who have each found success this year at the major league level. Given their performance, Reimold doesn’t add a new dimension to this ballclub.
Considering the inability of Orioles starters to go deep in games consistently, the team also may not want to again shorten its pitching staff by demoting a long reliever like Brad Brach or T.J. McFarland to make room for Reimold.
Reimold has shown flashes of solid production in parts of five major league seasons, but has never been able to stay healthy. He is a career .252/.327/.439 hitter who has a good bit of power packed in his 6-foot-4-inch frame. But since Reimold first made the Orioles’ roster out of spring training in 2010, Reimold has played 182 of a possible 648 games (about 28 percent) at the big league level.
Reimold spent 94 games in AAA Norfolk in 2010 after he was sent down due to a slow start, but most of Reimold’s time off the field can be attributed to injury. Most notably, Reimold endured a frayed left Achilles in 2009, a herniated disc in his neck in 2012, and spent nearly two months on the disabled list with a torn hamstring in 2013 before he underwent corrective surgery repairing a false fusion of his previously injured neck vertebrae, ending his season with 40 games played.
Then, when it appeared Reimold had a chance to return to the 2014 Orioles, manager Buck Showalter announced that Reimold would begin the season on DL as he continued to recover from his second neck fusion surgery.
Barring an unforeseen injury, I don’t see a place for Reimold on the 25-man roster as its currently constructed. The skills he brings — right handed power and the ability to play corner outfield — are already replicated on the 2014 Orioles.
Given Reimold’s success when he has been on the field and recent performance in the minor leagues, he’s unlikely to pass through waivers unclaimed. But, the Orioles are really left with no better options than to place the outfielder on the wire.
Reimold has shown that he can’t be relied upon throughout his career, and ditching a proven player for the often-ailing 30-year-old seems foolish after the Orioles have been burned by his health issues for the last five years.
Reimold has the potential to help a major league team, but doesn’t fit on the Orioles. The time has come to cut bait. Enough is enough.