Trying to improve a woeful corner outfield situation that’s plagued them all season, the Orioles have found their man hours before Friday’s trade deadline.
The Orioles acquired Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Zach Davies. Baltimore designated right-handed pitcher Bud Norris for assignment to temporarily make room for Parra on the 25-man roster.
The 28-year-old Venezuelan is in the midst of a career season at the plate, hitting .328 with nine home runs, 31 RBIs, 24 doubles, and an .886 on-base plus slugging percentage in 351 plate appearances. Parra hits and throws from the left side and was also a two-time Gold Glove outfielder with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has repeatedly stated a desire to acquire a corner outfielder in recent weeks after failing to adequately replace veterans Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis last offseason. The Orioles have also engaged in trade discussions for Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Ben Revere.
While Parra represents an upgrade over the likes of Travis Snider, Nolan Reimold, and David Lough in the outfield, the acquisition does not come without some risk as the outfielder will be a free agent this offseason and is only a .279 career hitter with a career .738 OPS, leading one to wonder if some regression to the mean could occur over the next two months. One of the biggest differences in Parra’s 2015 campaign compared to the rest of his career has been an improved ability to hit left-handed pitching (an .819 OPS in 53 plate appearances against southpaws compared to a .604 career mark).
Manager Buck Showalter will likely look to use Parra at the top of the order — especially against right-handed pitching — as he sports a .369 on-base percentage this season.
Davies was 5-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 19 games (18 starts) spanning 101 1/3 innings. The 22-year-old right-hander was recently ranked as the No. 3 prospect in a thin Baltimore system by MLB.com.
It was widely known that the Orioles had little ammunition to make a major splash at the deadline with top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Hunter Harvey both currently injured. The departure of Davies further depletes a farm system in need of major retooling, but Parra does fill a need for a push for a third trip to the postseason in four years.