Posted on December 29, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
The Baltimore Orioles are hoping to build off of last season’s postseason appearance, but with the birds likely to lose both Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters from their lineup, there are some holes to fill if Baltimore expects to return to the playoffs in 2017. Specifically, there is a void in Baltimore’s outfield that needs to be adequately filled before the season. The Orioles are set to run with Adam Jones in center field and Hyun Soo Kim in left field, but they are still considering several options to fill the void in right field.
The internal options to join Jones and Kim in the outfield are not all that exciting. Joey Rickard profiles more as a fourth outfielder than an every day player. He’s also coming back from a thumb injury, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be fully healthy and ready to go by opening day. Dariel Alvarez is another option, but he has yet to distinguish himself in the majors and is far from a sure thing offensively.
The free agent market appears to be Baltimore’s best option to find a right fielder. However, with the team breaking off talks with Mark Trumbo, the Orioles will be looking at the second tier of free agent outfielders. Among the players they are reportedly considering are Michael Saunders, Rajai Davis, Angel Pagan, and Michael Bourn.
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Saunders appears to be the best player on that list after making the all-star team in 2016. The Orioles were reportedly targeting Josh Reddick earlier this winter, indicating they may prefer a left-handed hitter in right field. Saunders could be seen as the best possible alternative to a player like Reddick, although there are several teams likely to be in the mix to sign Saunders.
Meanwhile, candidates like Davis, Pagan, and Bourn are all aging center fielders who may fit better playing a corner spot at this stage of their careers. Pagan had the best season offensively of those three, but he doesn’t appear to be Baltimore’s top option of the three. The Orioles have been most linked to Davis in rumors, indicating her may be their preference. Bourn, meanwhile, was with the Orioles late in 2016, and that familiarity could work in his favor.
If the Orioles were to explore the trade market, Jay Bruce of the New York Mets could be an option. The Mets are more than willing to trade Bruce, who is far better than Baltimore’s other free agent options outside of Trumbo. However, Bruce would be a one-year solution at $13 million, far more money than anyone but Trumbo would command. The Orioles would also have to give up something to acquire Bruce, making the price a little steeper.
Finally, the Orioles have a pair of Rule 5 Draft selections who could factor into the mix in right field in Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander. Tavarez is a left-handed hitter who has excelled in double-A and has some experience in triple-A. He has a good chance to stick with the Orioles all year, but he may not be an every day player, which could explain interest in Davis as a right-handed complement. Santander, on the other hand, is a switch-hitting power hitter who hit 20 home runs and 42 doubles last season. However, he’s never played above A-ball, making it doubtful he’ll be ready to provide that kind of production at the big league level.
Unless the Orioles can rectify things with Trumbo, they look like they will have to settle for one of the lesser options they are considering. There are pros and cons to each option, but none is the perfect solution. Still, one way or another, the Orioles will have to find the right fit for right field; otherwise, they may find it difficult to get back to the postseason in 2017.