Orioles acquire versatile infielder in second trade of offseason with AL Central team

The Orioles added another infielder to the mix ahead of spring training

Aug 6, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Maton (9) makes a throw towards first base during a game at Comerica Park
Aug 6, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Nick Maton (9) makes a throw towards first base during a game at Comerica Park / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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While the Orioles have gone out and gotten the big fish Corbin Burnes in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, they have also made moves to add to the depth of the roster this winter. With a week until Spring Training, the Orioles announced the acquisition of infielder Nick Maton from the Detroit Tigers in exchange for cash considerations.

The move is the second trade the Orioles and Tigers have made this offseason, with the Orioles re-acquiring infielder Tyler Nevin from Detroit in January after trading him there a year before. With this move, the question has to be asked, where does Nick Maton fit best?

What role could Nick Maton have on the Orioles in 2024?

Maton is out of minor league options, so the Orioles will have to keep him on the active roster or risk losing him on waivers if they wish to assign him to the minor leagues. Maton played shortstop, third base, and second base for the Tigers last season.

The way things stand right now, the best fit for Maton appears to be at second base. Jordan Westburg is the undisputed starter over there and Maton was best at second defensively by outs above average, although it was still a sub-optimal -1 OAA in 171 innings.

While he played a career high 93 games in 2023, Maton didn't do a whole lot at the plate. He ended the year with a .173/.288/.305 slash line with a far below average OPS+ of 63, though he did set career highs in home runs with eight, doubles with nine, and RBIs with 32.

Maton is on the 40-man roster, but he enters Spring Training on the outside looking in at a roster spot, as the Orioles have Westburg, Ramón Urías, Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo and Nevin also on the 40-man roster who can play the same positions Maton can, with baseball's best prospect Jackson Holliday also banging on the door for a roster spot.

The best case scenario for Maton appears to be one where he makes the team as a backup infielder with the ability to spell any of the starters when they need a day off. The more likely scenario is he winds up in Triple A and is a call-up option if injuries hit the big league roster.

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