Tag Archive | "MLB"


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Fowler would bring needed skills to Orioles lineup

Posted on 12 February 2016 by Luke Jones

As the Orioles try to close an agreement with veteran starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, much discussion has shifted to their desire to add another hitter for the 2016 season.

Free agents Dexter Fowler and Pedro Alvarez as well as Cincinnati Reds right fielder Jay Bruce have been mentioned in multiple reports, but all carry concerns — or at least a hang-up of some sort.

According to MLB Network, the Reds believe the Orioles have the necessary prospects to make a trade for the 28-year-old Bruce, but should they want to do it? Not only is the left-handed hitter owed $12.5 million in the final year of his contract that includes a club option for 2017, but he’s posted a combined .695 on-base plus slugging percentage and minus-0.3 wins above replacement over the last two seasons.

In 2015, Bruce hit .226 with 26 home runs, 87 RBIs, a .294 on-base percentage, and a .729 OPS, unappealing numbers that were a marked improvement from a nightmare 2014 season in which he posted a .654 OPS and hit a career-worst 18 homers.

Those struggles coupled with a switch from the NL to the AL shouldn’t make the Orioles eager for his services, even if Bruce posted an OPS of .800 or better from 2010-2013. If you’re going to surrender what few valued commodities you have in a depleted minor-league system, Bruce isn’t one to target as he doesn’t bring defensive value, either, and is expensive.

A free agent whom the club could sign without forfeiting a draft pick, Alvarez would make sense if the Orioles didn’t already have Mark Trumbo penciled in as their primary designated hitter. The 29-year-old Alvarez hit 27 home runs and posted a .787 OPS in 2015, but he is a poor defensive player at either first base or third base and should only be considered as a DH.

Hypothetically, the Orioles could sign Alvarez and move Trumbo to right field, but the latter is not a good defensive outfielder and most of his offensive value would be wiped away from his shortcomings in the field. On top of that, Alvarez holds a .309 career OBP and would be just another one-dimensional power bat to add to a lineup already sporting plenty of those.

Again, not a good fit if you value defense, which the Orioles certainly have over the last few years.

That brings us to Fowler, who rejected a $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Chicago Cubs and would require the Orioles to give up a draft choice to sign him. It’s a hefty price in addition to whatever you’d have to pay in the contract, but his .363 career OBP would be a godsend for the top of the order and allow Manny Machado to shift into more of a run-producing spot hitting second or third.

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has annually expressed a desire to improve the club’s ability to get on base — the Orioles have finished 10th or worse in the AL in OBP over the last four seasons — and Fowler would provide that skill ahead of the likes of Machado, Adam Jones, and Chris Davis. Even his career-low .346 OBP in 2015 would have ranked third behind only Machado and Davis on last year’s Orioles.

Turning 30 next month, Fowler has also reached double-digit stolen bases in seven straight seasons. It’s no secret that the Orioles have lacked speed on the bases for several years.

Despite being a below-average defensive player in his career, Fowler has played exclusively in center field and could presumably make the transition to right field at no worse than an satisfactory level. He’s not a superstar, but Fowler brings unique skills to a lineup needing someone at the top to set the table.

Of course, it makes sense for the Orioles to have multiple options for negotiating purposes, but Fowler is the clear choice among these three to give the offense what it sorely needs. Truthfully, he’s the only one who makes sense.

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Orioles add veteran reliever Thayer on minor-league deal

Posted on 10 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles agreed to a minor-league deal with veteran relief pitcher Dale Thayer on Wednesday.

The 35-year-old right-hander will receive an invitation to major league spring training, bringing the total number of pitchers in this year’s camp to 30.

Most recently with the San Diego Padres, Thayer pitched to a 4.06 ERA in 37 2/3 innings in 2015, but he holds a 3.47 career mark in seven major league seasons. From 2012-2014, he pitched to a 3.02 ERA and averaged just under 63 innings per year as an effective member of the Padres bullpen.

Of course, Thayer enters a crowded bullpen picture that already includes two 2015 All-Star selections — closer Zach Britton and primary setup man Darren O’Day — as well as Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz, Chaz Roe, Dylan Bundy, and T.J. McFarland. He will be competing for a roster spot with other non-roster invitees with major league experience such as lefty Jeff Beliveau and right-hander Todd Redmond.

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Could Orioles be planning free-agent repeat of 2014?

Posted on 10 February 2016 by Luke Jones

Spring training is only a week away, but the Orioles appear far from finished building their 2016 roster.

With multiple reports indicating movement toward striking a three-year deal with veteran starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, the Orioles are also reportedly interested in free-agent outfielder Dexter Fowler. Both free agents rejected qualifying offers from their previous clubs at the start of the offseason and would require forfeiting a draft pick to sign, but executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette and Baltimore could be willing to sign each using a strategy we witnessed two years ago.

In February of 2014, the Orioles forfeited the 17th overall pick of that June’s draft to sign Jimenez, a move that received mixed reaction and hasn’t worked out in the first two seasons of a four-year, $50 million contract. However, the Jimenez signing prompted Duquette to ink outfielder Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 million deal that only required the club to surrender its second-round pick (55th overall) since the first-round choice had already been relinquished. Needless to say, that deal worked extremely well as the slugger hit 40 home runs to help the Orioles win the American League East that season.

If the Orioles were to forfeit the 14th overall pick to sign Gallardo, they would only need to part with the current 29th overall selection awarded to them for losing Wei-Yin Chen in order to sign Fowler. Though that would be a bigger sacrifice than the pick given up to sign Cruz two years ago, the switch-hitting Fowler owns a .363 career-on-base percentage and would fill an obvious need at a corner outfield spot.

In 2015, Fowler hit .250 with a career-high 17 homers, 20 stolen bases, and a .346 OBP to help the Chicago Cubs to the National League Championship Series. His addition would also allow manager Buck Showalter to lower Manny Machado to more of a run-producing spot in the batting order.

Even if the thought of parting with their first-round pick to sign Gallardo to a pricey three-year deal isn’t appealing, the Orioles could recoup some of that value by adding Fowler for a lesser pick to improve a shaky corner outfield situation currently flanking All-Star center fielder Adam Jones.

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Orioles reportedly closing in on free-agent starter Gallardo

Posted on 10 February 2016 by Luke Jones

After stating a desire to improve their rotation and subsequently losing their best starter from 2015 this winter, the Orioles appear on the verge of finally making a significant pitching addition.

According to multiple reports, Baltimore is moving closer to a three-year deal with free agent Yovani Gallardo to sure up a rotation that finished 14th in the American League in ERA last season. Turning 30 later this month, Gallardo carries a 3.66 career ERA over nine major league seasons and has made at least 30 starts in seven straight years.

The right-hander was reportedly seeking a three-year, $40 million deal a month ago, but the possibility of an opt-out clause has also been discussed.

The sides have been linked as a potential fit for much of the offseason, but Texas made a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Gallardo in early November, meaning the Orioles would forfeit the 14th overall pick in June’s draft to sign him. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has expressed hesitancy to surrender the pick at several points this offseason, but the free-agent departure of Wei-Yin Chen left a huge void in an already-suspect rotation and the Orioles passed on a variety of options who weren’t given qualifying offers.

The Orioles currently have six picks over the first 100 spots in the 2016 amateur draft.

Beyond surrendering a pick, signing Gallardo would come with additional risk as his average fastball velocity has dipped from 92.6 miles per hour in 2011 to 90.5 last season. His strikeout rate has also decreased in three straight seasons and fell to a career-low 5.9 per nine innings in 2015 after averaging more than a strikeout per frame in his first six seasons in the big leagues.

However, his strong ground-ball rate hovering around 50 percent over the last few years would be attractive when he’d be starting half of his games at homer-happy Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

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Orioles increase ticket prices for 2016 season

Posted on 09 February 2016 by WNST Staff

The Orioles announced an increase in both season and individual ticket prices for the 2016 season on Tuesday.

Season tickets will go up $3 to $10 per ticket based on the type of plan, location of the seat, and the opponent. Individual tickets will rise $3 to $7.

The club sent out season-ticket invoices via email, which were accompanied by a letter from executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explaining the price increase. Tickets for individual games are not yet on sale.

With the club projected to have a payroll north of $130 million — the highest in team history — most expected ticket prices to be raised for just the third time in the last 12 years. First baseman Chris Davis was signed to a seven-year, $161 million contract in January, shattering the previous club record for the richest deal awarded to a player.

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Harvey, Mancini among 17 non-roster Orioles invited to spring training

Posted on 08 February 2016 by Luke Jones

Top pitching prospect Hunter Harvey and 2015 Orioles minor league player of the year Trey Mancini were among the 17 non-roster players officially invited to major league spring training on Monday.

The list includes a total of seven pitchers — four lefties and three right-handers — as well as three catchers, four infielders, and three outfielders. Of course, the list below does not include players on the 40-man roster, who are automaticallly invited to spring training.

Orioles pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota on Feb. 18 with the first full-squad workout set to take place at the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 24.


RHP Pedro Beato
Skinny: Originally a first-round pick of the Orioles in 2006, the 29-year-old bounced around the majors in 93 1/3 career innings before posting a 2.65 ERA pitching in relief for Triple-A Norfolk a year ago.

LHP Jeff Beliveau
Skinny: Signed to a minor-league deal in December, the 29-year-old southpaw has a 4.00 ERA in 45 career major league innings with the Chicago Cubs and Tampa Bay.

LHP Cesar Cabral
Skinny: He received a cup of coffee with Baltimore in early June, but Cabral posted an underwhelming 4.95 ERA in 40 innings for Norfolk in 2015.

RHP Hunter Harvey
Skinny: The health of the 2013 first-round pick will be a big story of the spring after Harvey, 21, missed the entire 2015 minor-league season with a broken fibula and lingering forearm and elbow issues.

LHP Andy Oliver
Skinny: After pitching briefly for Detroit in the 2010 and 2011 seasons, the 28-year-old has bounced around the minors and was picked up by the Orioles last July and posted a 3.72 ERA for Norfolk.

RHP Todd Redmond
Skinny: The 30-year-old veteran posted a 4.13 ERA for Toronto over the last three seasons and is now in his second stint with the Orioles organization.

LHP Ashur Tolliver
Skinny: A fifth-round pick of the 2009 draft, Tolliver, 28, has overcome some injuries and used a three-quarters throwing motion to post a crisp 2.91 ERA for Double-A Bowie in 2015.


Jonah Heim
Skinny: The 2013 fourth-round pick saw his 2015 season with Single-A Delmarva derailed by a Lisfranc injury in his foot, limiting him to just 164 plate appearances in his third professional season.

Audry Perez
Skinny: Acquired from Colorado in late March, the 27-year-old posted a .582 on-base plus slugging percentage for Norfolk in 282 plate appearances last season.

Chance Sisco
Skinny: Rated the Orioles’ No. 3 prospect by Baseball America, Sisco had an .809 OPS at Single-A Frederick before being moved to Bowie where he produced a .729 OPS in 84 plate appearances in 2015.


Paul Janish
Skinny: The slick-fielding infielder hit .286 in 35 at-bats for the Orioles last season, but he carries a career .574 OPS in seven major league seasons and is off the 40-man roster.

Trey Mancini
Skinny: The 23-year-old took off in 2015 by hitting a combined .341 with 21 home runs, 89 RBIs, and a .938 OPS between Frederick and Bowie to land himself firmly on the organization’s radar for the future.

Ozzie Martinez
Skinny: The starting shortstop at Bowie hit only .252 with a .613 OPS, but the 27-year-old plays good defense and provided veteran leadership for the Baysox in 2015.

Steve Tolleson
Skinny: Having already spent time with the Orioles in 2012, the 32-year-old utility man signed a minor-league deal in November and appeared in 128 games for Toronto over the last two years.


Xavier Avery
Skinny: The 2008 second-round pick has been with a number of organizations since being traded by the Orioles three years ago and signed a minor-league deal to return in November.

L.J. Hoes
Skinny: Reacquired in November, the 25-year-old was outrighted to Norfolk but still figures to compete for a roster spot despite an underwhelming .617 OPS in parts of four major league seasons.

Alfredo Marte
Skinny: After seeing limited action with Arizona and the Los Angeles Angels in the last three years, Marte, 26, inked a minor-league deal in November and had an .850 OPS with Triple-A Salt Lake in 2015.

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Delmon Young arrested for allegedly choking, threatening to kill valet

Posted on 08 February 2016 by Luke Jones

Former Orioles outfielder Delmon Young was arrested for battery after allegedly choking and threatening to kill a valet attendant in Miami on Sunday night.

According to Andy Slater of WINZ and other reports, Young allegedly grabbed the attendant by the neck and began choking him after he was denied entrance into a club that was closed. The 30-year-old was later arrested at his residence in Miami.

Young allegedly told the victim, “Stupid Cuban, open the (expletive) door. I’m gonna (expletive) kill you, you Latin piece of (expletive).”

Police said that Young answered the door of his residence wearing no clothes below the waist and was unsteady on his feet while initially denying any knowledge of the incident. Young allegedly told one of the officers on the scene, “I’ll slap you in the face with money, you (expletive) Cuban.”

This is not the first time in which Young has been in trouble with the law as he was arrested in New York for aggravated harassment as a hate crime for making an anti-Semitic remark in 2012. He was suspended by Major League Baseball and ordered to undergo counseling after pleading guilty to that charge.

Released by the Orioles last July, Young spent two seasons in Baltimore and was the hero of Game 2 of the 2014 American League Division Series for hitting a game-winning three-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning, providing one of the most exciting moments in the history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Young has not signed with another club since being let go by the Orioles.

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Pot-committed Orioles may need to push chips in on Gallardo

Posted on 06 February 2016 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have pushed plenty of chips to the center of the poker table this winter.

A seven-year commitment to first baseman Chris Davis worth $161 million, the richest contract in franchise history.

Making All-Star relief pitcher Darren O’Day one of the highest-paid setup men in the majors.

Paying just under $25 million for the services of three-time All-Star catcher Matt Wieters and designated hitter Mark Trumbo for the 2016 season.

In other words, the Orioles are what the poker world labels as “pot-committed” with a projected payroll now north of $130 million. But there’s still a problem with that spending.

They’re currently no better than they were a season ago when they finished 81-81. In fact, they’re worse on paper after the free-agent departure of starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen and his 3.72 ERA over the last four seasons.

It’s reasonable to expect Chris Tillman and Miguel Gonzalez to rebound — at least somewhat — from last year’s difficulties, but that doesn’t mean a return to their exceptional performances of 2014, either. Kevin Gausman could be ready to take off at age 25 and the Orioles may see more good Ubaldo Jimenez than the bad Jimenez in 2016, but that would still be too much hoping and not enough improving.

After turning their nose up to the cost of starting pitching all winter, the Orioles find few viable options remaining. The likes of David Price or Zack Greinke were never realistic, but second- and third-tier options such as Scott Kazmir (three years, $48 million) or even Doug Fister (one year, $7 million) were still available to slot into a thin rotation.

That finally brings us to Yovani Gallardo, the man linked to the Orioles throughout the offseason and probably the best option remaining on the market. Soon to be 30, the veteran right-hander is far from a sure bet despite a career-best 3.42 ERA in 2015 and a 3.66 lifetime mark in the majors.

Signing him would require the Orioles to forfeit the 14th overall selection of the 2016 draft after Texas made him a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason. That is an understandable deterrent for an organization in need of restocking its farm system, and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said several times this offseason that the Orioles would prefer not to forfeit the pick.

Despite a strong ground-ball rate hovering around 50 percent that would figure to be perfect for Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a strong infield defense, Gallardo has seen his average fastball velocity dip from 92.6 miles per hour in 2011 to 90.5 with the Rangers last season. His strikeout rate has declined in three straight seasons and fell to a career-low 5.9 per nine innings in 2015 after averaging more than a strikeout per inning in his first six major league seasons.

Those numbers make a long-term commitment to Gallardo a risky one, but he’s still a much better option than the newly-acquired Odrisamer Despaigne, Vance Worley, Mike Wright, or Tyler Wilson, who are more scratch-off lottery tickets than good starting candidates for a club already lacking dynamic talent in its first four starter spots. Even if you’re not keen on the Orioles giving Gallardo a long-term contract, he would instantly move to the top half of the rotation and slide the aforementioned names into more appropriate roles as relievers or depth at the Triple-A level.

Losing the 14th overall pick would be disappointing, but the Orioles would still hold five selections in the first 100 spots. An increased financial commitment to international talent — something the organization should be making anyway — could also offset that sacrifice.

At the start of the offseason, Gallardo would have been far from the top choice, but the Orioles are now less than two weeks away from spring training and haven’t replaced their best starter from a year ago when their rotation finished 14th in the American League in ERA. Beggars can’t be choosers when you’re in need of starting pitching at this late stage of the winter.

Gallardo’s addition wouldn’t guarantee a trip to the playoffs, but it would be foolish to spend as much as the Orioles have this winter without seriously addressing a rotation that was the biggest reason for their downfall in 2015. There’s no sense in playing a high-stakes hand of poker if you’re just going to muck your cards after committing more than $200 million earlier this offseason.

If you’re going to do it, go all the way.

The Orioles’ spending says they’re in win-now mode — especially with both Manny Machado and Adam Jones hitting free agency after the 2018 season — but their starting rotation suggests otherwise. There isn’t enough depth, and there certainly isn’t enough quality depth.

Signing Gallardo comes with risk and sacrifice, but he could help a neglected rotation compete in 2016.

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Orioles can’t afford to experience déjà vu in outfield

Posted on 27 January 2016 by Luke Jones

The surprise expressed by some over L.J. Hoes being designated for assignment on Tuesday says all you need to know about the current state of the Orioles outfield.

Dan Duquette still has work to do with spring training only a few weeks away.

Any notion that Hoes — a former third-round pick who has yet to establish himself as a bona fide major leaguer — was even a sleeper candidate to start in right field reflects how little quality depth the Orioles have at the corner outfield spots. The acquisition of Efren Navarro from the Los Angeles Angels doesn’t change that reality, either.

The Orioles cannot afford a repeat of last year at the positions flanking five-time All-Star center fielder Adam Jones. In 2015, Baltimore left fielders combined to hit .210 with a .640 on-base plus slugging percentage and were worth minus-0.7 wins above replacement. Right field was better at 2.0 wins above replacement, but nearly half of that value stemmed from the 29 starts Chris Davis made at the position.

If the season were to begin today, Korean newcomer Hyun Soo Kim would likely be the starting left fielder with Nolan Reimold trotting out to right field. That combination doesn’t inspire confidence in an otherwise-strong lineup.

To be fair, the Orioles have spent gobs of money this offseason re-signing Davis and Darren O’Day to long-term deals, inking Matt Wieters to a $15.8 million qualifying offer, and acquiring slugger Mark Trumbo and his $9.15 million salary for 2016. The Kim signing at $7 million over two years could pay major dividends, but you’d prefer a relative unknown who was playing in the Korean Baseball Organization a year ago to be slated as the No. 4 outfielder to start a season for a contending club.

The 32-year-old Reimold managed to stay healthy last year, but a .247 average with a .738 OPS in 195 plate appearances doesn’t scream starting right fielder. The club’s other options don’t carry great appeal, either.

Rule 5 selection Joey Rickard, 24, hit a combined .321 at three levels in the Tampa Bay system last season, but why did the Rays — a club always needing cheap talent — leave him off their 40-man roster? At the very least, he’ll be a name of interest to watch during spring training.

Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez was promoted to the big leagues in late August, but he’s 27 and received a meager 31 plate appearances with the Orioles, making you wonder whether manager Buck Showalter has much confidence in him. He has an exceptional throwing arm, but a .305 on-base percentage at Triple-A Norfolk in 2015 isn’t what you’re looking for.

Henry Urrutia provided one of the feel-good moments of the 2015 season with his walk-off home run against the New York Mets in August, but the 28-year-old struggles to pull the ball and isn’t a graceful fielder despite some improvement over the last couple years. He was optioned back to the minors just before September call-ups and wasn’t summoned to Baltimore again.

The Orioles could always turn to Trumbo at a corner outfield spot, but the fielding metrics suggest first base as his only suitable position without compromising the overall defense. Showalter has already indicated that he’ll serve as Baltimore’s primary designated hitter with Davis back in the fold.

And there’s always Jimmy Paredes, who played right field regularly in winter ball this offseason in hopes of finding a defensive position he can handle. But the bigger problem could be Paredes’ .517 OPS in the second half of 2015 after he posted an .807 mark before the All-Star break.

This group sounds a lot like last year’s flawed collection that included Alejandro De Aza, Travis Snider, Delmon Young, Steve Pearce, and David Lough. If we’re being honest, it looks even worse on paper than that group did at this point last year.

Wednesday’s report indicating that the Orioles still had a five-year offer on the table for Yoenis Cespedes even after re-signing Davis to a $161 million contract creates hope that Duquette will still make an impact addition to the outfield. A couple attractive options still remain on the free-agent market.

His signing would require the Orioles to surrender their first-round pick in this year’s draft, but Dexter Fowler holds a sparkling .363 on-base percentage in his career. His speed would also be a nice addition, and he could probably make a positive transition to a corner outfield spot after less-than-impressive defensive metrics in center over the last few seasons.

Austin Jackson is coming off consecutive years with an OPS below .700, but he’s only 29, is still a solid defender, and performed fairly well before being traded in the midst of each of the last two seasons. Perhaps some stability would help get his career back on track, and he wouldn’t command a draft pick or — one would assume — a lucrative commitment to sign him.

There’s always the possibility of a trade, but the Orioles’ shortage of quality prospects has been discussed ad nauseam. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Other platoon types such as Will Venable, David Murphy, and Matt Joyce remain unsigned as well.

In a perfect world, fans would probably like to see the Orioles add two quality outfielders to the current mix, but the rest of the lineup is strong enough to carry a question mark at one of those corner positions as long as that individual plays good defense, which was another issue at those spots.

There’s still time, but the Orioles need to do whatever it takes to fight off that feeling of déjà vu in the outfield that plagued them throughout the 2015 season.

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Orioles acquire outfielder Efren Navarro from Angels

Posted on 26 January 2016 by Luke Jones

Still needing to add a corner outfielder and a starting pitcher before spring training begins next month, the Orioles made a minor roster move on Tuesday with the acquisition of outfielder Efren Navarro.

Sending cash to the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore added the 29-year-old Navarro and designated outfielder L.J. Hoes for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. The Orioles’ third-round selection in the 2008 draft and part of the Bud Norris trade in 2013, Hoes had been reacquired from the Houston Astros in exchange for cash considerations in late November.

The left-handed Navarro has batted .246 with a .303 on-base percentage in 280 major league plate appearances over the last four seasons. He carries a .365 career OBP in the minor leagues and hit .326 or better for Triple-A Salt Lake in each of the last three straight seasons (2013-15), but he never showed more than gap power in the minors — Navarro has hit more than seven home runs in a minor-league season just once —  and his success at the plate has yet to translate to the big leagues.

Navarro appeared in 118 games over the last two season for the Angels, but he was designated for assignment last week. Primarily a first baseman in the minor leagues, Navarro has learned to play the corner outfield spots over the last couple seasons and is considered a solid defensive player.

Meanwhile, Hoes had been discussed by some fans as a potential sleeper candidate to win a starting job, which is more a reflection of the Orioles’ lack of quality outfield depth. The addition of Navarro does little to improve an outfield picture that consists of All-Star center fielder Adam Jones and a list of question marks headlined by Korean newcomer Hyun Soo Kim and veteran Nolan Reimold.

Mark Trumbo is also capable of playing the corner spots, but manager Buck Showalter has already indicated that he will primarily serve as the club’s designated hitter while receiving occasional starts at first base or in the outfield.

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