Baltimore Orioles Add Depth But Lose Outfield Option
By Jamie Ellis
The Baltimore Orioles added some potential mid-year depth while also losing out on a solid outfield option. Is Dan Duquette’s hand being forced?
The Baltimore Orioles made their first 2017 “signing” today by agreeing to terms with catcher/first baseman/designated hitter Jesus Montero on a minor league contract. Does the name sound familiar? For avid baseball fans, it might. Jesus Montero was a highly regarded prospect for the New York Yankees, ranking as high as the #3 prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America after the 2010 season.
Montero was traded by the Yankees to the Mariners in the Michael Pineda deal in 2012. He had a solid first season with the Mariners, batting .260 with 15 home runs and 60 RBI. What followed was a series of unfortunate events including a meniscus injury to his knee; involvement in the Biogenesis scandal; a lack of conditioning which saw Montero’s weight increase by 40 pounds between the end of the 2013 and beginning of 2014 seasons; an altercation with a an opponent’s roving instructor which involved – I kid you not – the throwing of an ice cream sandwich; and, a recent suspension for a banned substance that will keep Montero out of baseball for the first 50 games of the 2017 season.
Dan Duquette does well at finding diamonds in the rough – even if the rough is several feet long! We saw this with Delmon Young a few seasons ago. If Montero can live up to a portion of the early expectations, he could fill a bit role come mid-season. That said, I don’t think anyone should hold their breath.
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While Montero could do himself some good by hanging with players like Adam Jones and a manager like Buck Showalter, this is a minor league deal and Montero will have to fully prove himself to get a look by the big club.
It’s a low-risk for a potential high reward. A solid move by Dan Duquette. It could also be a move to fill a possible need in Norfolk should the Orioles promote first baseman Trey Mancini to Baltimore. Christian Walker moved to the outfield last year thus leading to a first base hole should Mancini make the Orioles roster at some point during the season.
Another Outfilder Off the Board
While Dan Duquette was finalizing the deal with Montero, another outfield option came off the board as the Oakland Athletics signed free agent outfielder Rajai Davis to a one-year, $6M deal. Davis would have been a good outfield fit due to his ability to play all outfield positions. That said, he is another righ-handed hitter in an outfield that begs for a left-handed hitter. Regardless, he is off the board.
The Orioles remain interested in several outfielders/designated hitters – a list that includes Mark Trumbo (OF/DH); Pedro Alvarez (DH); Michael Bourn (OF); Michael Saunders (OF); Angel Pagan (OF); and, Colby Rasmus (OF). Nothing is imminent. In addition, there is no guarantee that any of these players will be signed by the Orioles. There are still trade possibilities that could become more probable if the Orioles sign a reliever such as Boone Logan.
Next: Baltimore Orioles Best Remaining Free Agent Options
I remain confident that the Orioles will re-sign Trumbo and add at least one additional (if not two) outfielder(s).