Looking to add more speed and defensive ability to their current crop of outfielders, the Orioles re-signed veteran Michael Bourn to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training on Monday.
The 34-year-old will earn $2 million if he makes the major league roster, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The deal includes a March 27 opt-out clause, according to multiple outlets.
Bourn was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 31 of last season and made positive contributions down the stretch, batting .283 with two home runs and a .793 on-base plus slugging percentage in 55 plate appearances with the Orioles. Having frequently served as a late-inning defensive replacement, Bourn is capable of playing all three defensive spots and started in right field in the American League wild-card game against Toronto.
His career in jeopardy after being released by both Atlanta and Toronto earlier in 2016, Bourn will need to continue the renaissance that began with the Diamondbacks and continued with the Orioles last September. After posting a .592 OPS between Cleveland and Atlanta in 2015, Bourn hit a combined .264 with five homers, 38 runs batted in, and a .684 OPS in 413 plate appearances last season. He also stole 15 bases in 20 attempts, but all but two of those steals came with the Diamondbacks.
The two-time Gold Glove and All-Star outfielder sports a career .266 average and .687 OPS in 11 major league seasons.
It remains to be seen how the Baltimore outfield will shake out beyond the projected starting trio of Hyun Soo Kim, Adam Jones, and Seth Smith from left to right against right-handed starters. Smith’s career .594 OPS against lefties all but guarantees that he’ll need a platoon partner in right, but Kim was hitless in only 22 plate appearances against lefties all last season, making it unknown whether he’s capable of thriving in an everyday role.
Joey Rickard entered spring training as the clear favorite for the fourth outfielder job — with Mark Trumbo being used as the primary designated hitter — but the additions of Bourn and Craig Gentry on minor-league deals provide some defensive-minded competition. Baltimore’s Rule 5 pick last year, Rickard posted an .861 OPS in 90 plate appearances against left-handed pitch, but he registered minus-eight defensive runs saved in the outfield as a rookie and had a .618 OPS against right-handed pitching.