Baltimore Orioles Add Veteran Outfielder On Minor League Deal
By Nick Stevens
The Baltimore Orioles have added a veteran outfielder to the mix.
Per MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko, the Baltimore Orioles have signed veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr. to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. The 33-year-old, 10-year veteran has played for the Los Angeles Angels for the past two seasons.
Just this morning on The Athletic, Orioles’ beat writer Dan Connolly released his interview ($) with general manager Mike Elias, which touched on a variety of topics, including the odds of signing any free agents between now and the start of the season.
Elias reiterated that he didn’t want to bring in any free agents who would block playing time for the young talent on the roster now, as the team begins their evaluation of the roster.
"We’ve got to keep our eyes on the guys that we have in the organization and getting them better."
This means the rest of the offseason will consist of filling out the upper-minors with minor league free agent signings and adding veterans like Eric Young Jr.to come in and compete for a spot in spring training and add depth to positions like the outfield and bullpen. While some fans want to see big names sign on with the Orioles, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to add major dollars to the payroll before 2019.
At 33, Young doesn’t block the likes of DJ Stewart or Austin Hays and can serve primarily as a fourth/fifth outfield option for Brandon Hyde and the Orioles, if he makes the team.
Playing mostly left and center field in his career, Young brings 651 games worth of major league experience to spring training, playing with the Angles, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Atlanta Braves, and Colorado Rockies.
He’s a career .245 hitter with a .312 OBP, 13 home runs, and 22 triples. Young also brings a career 81% successful stolen base rate, swiping 162 bags, including three seasons of 30+ stolen bases.
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Currently, the Orioles have Trey Mancini, Stewart, Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, and Joey Rickard on the 40-man roster.
Hays is likely to begin the year in the minors as he continues to return from late-season ankle surgery. Santander will also likely begin the year in the minors as he continues his development.
That leaves a starting outfield possibility of Mancini, Mullins, and Stewart, with Rickard and now Eric Young Jr.battling for the fourth outfield spot, along with non-roster invitee Mike Yastrzemski.
Young’s advanced defensive metrics aren’t spectacular, overall, but does have a career Ultimate Zone Rating of 5.4 in left field and offers the flexibility to play in the infield, having logged innings at second base. Bringing in veterans who provide flexibility on the field was another topic Elias touched on in Connolly’s interview.
He can play multiple positions, provides a veteran presence, and still has wheels on the basepaths and in the outfield, making this minor league contract well worth it for the Baltimore Orioles. What do you think? True, it isn’t needle-moving or a move that will mean much in the grand scheme of things, but what do you think, Birdland?