Baltimore Orioles Free Agent Options Are Dwindling
By Jamie Ellis
The Baltimore Orioles still have holes to fill in right field and at designated hitter. With free agents coming off the board, what options remain for the Birds?
Mike Napoli could be close to a deal with the Texas Rangers despite the Baltimore Orioles showing some interest. According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, “Major League sources indicate the Rangers are moving closer to a deal with Napoli, with discussions centered around a two-year deal. An agreement is not yet imminent, but both sides are highly motivated to get a deal done, even though there remains interest in Napoli from other clubs, including possibly Oakland and Baltimore.”
Napoli would be a solid DH option for the Orioles. Despite a .239 average with the Indians in 2016, Napoli reached base at a .335 clip and belted 34 home runs while driving in 101. That said, reuniting with the Rangers makes sense for both the club and the player.
In other news, Jon Morosi is reporting that the Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista have intensified discussions leading one to believe that a reunion between team and player is becoming more likely.
options are much more limited. The list includes Mark Trumbo, Angel Pagan, Colby Rasmus, Rajai Davis, Pedro Alvarez, Michael Bourn and Michael Saunders. Trumbo makes the most sense for the Orioles as a designated hitter option. The Birds will likely be willing to offer him a bit more money than other teams since the signing wouldn’t cost the Orioles a draft pick while other teams would have to forfeit their first round pick to the Orioles.
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Pedro Alvarez could also reunite with the Orioles as primarily a designated hitter with some limited outfield duties. If the Orioles sign Trumbo, I believe the addition of Alvarez is less likely as Trumbo will likely be the full time designate hitter. Of course, that assumes the Orioles fill their right field need.
In right field, Michael Bourn or Michael Saunders, both left handed hitters, could be possibilities; however, I don’t feel either would be a full time right fielder. It’s more likely the Orioles would platoon either player. Rajai Davis, a right handed hitter, could be a good option as both a right field and left field platoon player. Davis could spell Bourn or Saunders against lefties and, at times, share a platoon with say Joey Rickard as a right handed hitting left fielder.
Angel Pagan is another option as a switch hitting left and right field platoon player. I should note that both Saunders and Bourn haven’t been terrible against lefties – especially last season. However, giving either 500+ at bats would likely divulge weaknesses against left handed pitchers. Hence, I believe a platoon of some sort is in order.
If I am Dan Duquette, I get the Trumbo deal done. This would give the Orioles their designated hitter power bat who could also get some (limited) time in right field. Next, I would try to finalize a deal with either Michael Bourn or Michael Saunders. I prefer Saunders due to his power. It also gives the Orioles the opportunity to sign Rajai Davis as a corner platoon player. The Orioles would have Jones in center, Kim in left and Saunders in right. Against lefties, Saunders could still get some at bats while Rajai Davis spells Kim in left field. At times, Saunders could sit against lefties allowing Davis to move over to right field while Joey Rickard mans left field. I like an outfield of Jones, Kim, Saunders, Rickard and Davis.
Next: Orioles Left Field Platoon
Dan Duquette still has work to do and he better do something before more players are off the board. While he has had some late offseason success, he can’t rest on his laurels.