Not every roster move can be the exciting re-signing of Chris Davis. Orioles GM-analogue Dan Duquette revels in the fringe roster moves that probably won't end up mattering. Tuesday afternoon, the Orioles dabbled in this market yet again, acquiring first baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro from the Angels in exchange for cash considerations.
With a full 40-man roster, any move like that is a zero-sum move. For one to join, another must leave. In this case, well-named local favorite L.J. Hoes has been designated for assignment by the Orioles.
Functionally, the move is a swap of a right-handed outfielder for whom the O's probably wouldn't have had any space with a left-handed sorta-outfielder for whom the O's also probably won't have any space. Navarro, who will be turning 30 in May, was originally a 50th round pick by the Angels in the 2007 draft. The Angels had designated Navarro themselves on January 19. He made his big league debut in 2011 but since then he's logged only a total of 280 major league plate appearances, putting up a .246/.303/.324 batting line.
Navarro does have an option remaining on his contract despite making his big league debut in 2011. The Angels outrighted Navarro off the roster before the 2012 season, so a minor league option was not used up for either that year or 2013. That means he had options burned in 2014 and 2015, with one remaining for 2016. Maybe that will save him, although having an option remaining did not save the recently-DFA'd Joey Terdoslavich..
You might look at Navarro's big league performance and think, why bother? You can look at his minor league numbers to see why the Orioles might have taken a flier on the guy. In 2013, Navarro batted .326/.404/.454 in 134 games for Triple-A Salt Lake City. He was even better in 2014, batting .326/.418/.462 before earning a call-up. The 2015 season was another success story at Triple-A before stumbling in MLB.
Salt Lake is in the Pacific Coast League, which is well known as a hitter-friendly league due to the parks and environments across the league. So that's probably one reason why Navarro was able to succeed there. Additionally, some players just have what it takes to beat Triple-A but not the MLB level. Hoes is another one of those players.
Most likely, Navarro will come in to spring training and compete for the job in right field. If he does well, he could end up as either the starting right fielder outright or he could end up in some kind of platoon situation with a right-handed batter like Nolan Reimold. Navarro has only ever played six innings at the big league level in right field.
Of course, that kind of thing never stops the Orioles. If Navarro hits, they'll figure out where he can play. If he doesn't hit, he'll be off to either Norfolk or to the great DFA in the sky by the end of spring training. It'd be a surprise to me if he's on the big league roster come Opening Day, but stranger things have happened.