Jayson Nix really sucked at baseball in 2014. He was less awful in the 2013 season, though still bad. Now he's going to start out the 2015 season with an invitation to spring training with the Orioles. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported the O's inked a member of the excessive-Y clan to a minor league contract that would pay him $750,000 if he manages to make the big league roster.
Suggesting that a player sucks is often one of those phrases thrown around by fans out of frustration in the heat of a moment. Seldom does it apply as much as to Nix, who, for three different teams last year, batted a combined .120/.169/.157. That's awful. It was "only" in 91 plate appearances, but what can you even do with a wRC+ of -8? Terrible. The year before that, pressed into service by the Yankees for 303 plate appearances, he batted .236/.308/.311, which is concerning enough. It's sub-Flahertian. A complete disaster.
This Nix signing is another one of those moves that would have been much more concerning before we had come to understand the mind of Dan Duquette. In a previous Orioles era not so far in the past, the signing of a veteran on the outs would have meant he was for sure making the team, and we'd hear all about his veteran presence or whatever. Nix, 32, has now appeared in parts of seven big league seasons, although he's only logged about two and a half seasons worth of games in that time.
Now we know better. We will only see Nix at the major league level if he is performing acceptably at Norfolk and if there is some kind of catastrophic injury to one or more infielders who figure to begin the season with the Orioles. Nobody wants to see something like that happen, whether it's a nagging injury that knocks J.J. Hardy out of commission or another knee problem for Manny Machado or something else entirely. Nix would have to pass Ryan Flaherty and probably also Rey Navarro to get playing time of any kind.
More likely he will spend time in Norfolk until his contract opt-out date rolls around, if he has one, and then he will bounce elsewhere. At best he is insurance, perhaps even insurance to the insurance. At times in his big league career he's been competent in the field at third base, second base, and shortstop. A player like that is useful if he's employed properly. The Orioles have proven to be adept at using those kinds of players where they best fit.
The Duquettian platitude of choice for this signing:
Duquette: "Nix is a proven professional SS and an excellent competitor"— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) February 17, 2015
An excellent competitor? That is a new one from the Duquette quote bot. So is "proven professional" for that matter.
It's another one of those minor league signings that doesn't matter unless it does. Hopefully the kind of injury situation that would press him into service will not occur. Maybe he will somehow turn himself into the next Nate McLouth- or Delmon Young-type Oriole. Stranger things have happened than that.