Orioles Could Use Another Lefty
The Orioles have completed most of their off season wish list except for a couple more moves. Andy MacPhail would still like to add another left handed reliever and a veteran starter. Despite the left handed reliever move likely being a minor one, it can really help the Orioles bullpen.
The left handed reliever most likely will be a minor league signing with an invitation to spring training. Mark Hendrickson’s name has come up since he played the last couple seasons with the Orioles and has been a model teammate while providing flexibility out of the bullpen. However, if you look at his numbers he hasn’t been that good with a 5.26 ERA last season and left handed batters hit .317 off of him. That isn’t going to cut it.
Mike Gonzalez will be the primary left handed reliever out of the bullpen pitching late in games against left handed batters, but I think having that second left handed reliever who can get left handed batters out is a huge asset to Buck Showalter and the Orioles. First, it allows Showalter to mix and match earlier in the game if need be and bring in that second lefty to face one or two batters in the 6th or 7th innings and still have Gonzalez available later. Second, Gonzalez hasn’t exactly been Mr. Health in his career and if he gets injured Showalter needs another lefty in the bullpen who can take over that role.
Andy MacPhail and the Orioles reportedly don’t want to spend much more money this off season, especially on their bullpen. Considering they won’t be spending a lot, you can cross off Brian Fuentes off your wish list. In addition, Joe Beimel (who would be my pick for the job) likely is still looking for a multi-year deal. Beimel is probably too expensive anyways. The only other interesting left handed reliever name on the free agent market is Dennys Reyes. Again he is going to deserve at least a major league guaranteed contract. He isn’t a guy the Orioles should be interested in anyways because he doesn’t get left handed batters out. Yup, that is kind of important when looking for a left handed specialist.
Two names that intrigue me and could possibly be signed at the Orioles price is Ron Mahay and Tim Byrdak. Mahay is going to be 40-years-old next season, but as a second lefty out of the bullpen who will just be required to face a batter or two, that won’t be as big an issue. Both relievers have pitched well the last couple seasons and both have the ability to get left handed batters out.
The Orioles don’t seem to want to give a guaranteed roster spot to a second left handed reliever, but if the Orioles can sign one of these guys, who both have proven track records, they should just give them a major league contract. If the Orioles sign a Ron Mahay or Tim Byrdak, they are already going into the season with them as the front runner for the job. Either way, the Orioles need to pick up a second left handed reliever to bolster their bullpen even more.