Earlier this week, Orioles GM Dan Duquette famously, hilariously, and absurdly told Jose Bautista’s agent that the Orioles would not be pursuing his client because Orioles fans do not like Bautista. Although he’s since gone on to repeat that statement in front of anyone who will put a microphone in front of his face, I don’t believe him, and neither should you.
One way we can be fairly sure that there’s not a “no villains of Birdland” policy in the Orioles front office is that the Orioles have made inquiries about at least one other, lesser-known villain of Birdland this offseason. According to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, the Orioles made inquiries about the Royals regarding outfielder Jarrod Dyson.
If you don’t hold baseball grudges like I hold baseball grudges, you may not remember Dyson. If not, you’re probably happier for that. To refresh your memory, Dyson, in what is, despite the Royals going on to win that series in four games, still one of the most ridiculous pieces of trash talk in history, proclaimed, two games into the 2014 ALCS, that the series would not go back to Baltimore.
I haven’t read that post I linked above again because thinking about that series is still bad for my health, but if you look at it, I’m fairly sure you’re going to find my applying a bunch of negative phrases towards Dyson, including calling him a “failed pinch runner” and also a “bench-warming gum-flapper.”
Make no mistake, Dyson was both of those things in that series and in the subsequent World Series that his team lost. Over the balance of those series, he stole no bases and in fact was thrown out the two times he attempted to steal. He was not good enough to play regularly, probably because of what was at that time a career .256/.323/.335 batting line. Yet there he was, talking trash.
It was all two years ago, and really, it was the only time Dyson has ever done anything to give me any reason to notice him. Yet he was not liked in Baltimore during that series and to the extent that he’s remembered, isn’t liked now. I have specially selected the photo for this article because when it happened this past April, it made me happy, and looking at it again today makes me happy still.
Of course all of that is not going to stop the Orioles from inquiring about Dyson. That would be stupid. Even if Dyson was somehow worth being public enemy #1 in Birdland - which he’s not and never will be - the Orioles would be idiots if they didn’t check in on Dyson solely because some fans like me think he’s annoying. Who cares? If he comes here and he’s good, all will be forgiven.
Dyson is a lot of what the Orioles say they’re looking for. He’s a left-handed outfielder who has played all three outfield positions and played all three well in his career. Dyson was a +9 by DRS in 462 innings in center field this past season and added another +5 in 177 innings in right field and +5 more in 119.2 innings in left field. That’s a total of +19 runs saved.
The Orioles, who had the absolute worst outfield defense in all of MLB this past season, do not have any player who can do that. They act like Joey Rickard could, but they’re wrong. The 32-year-old Dyson, who will be a free agent after next season and is expected to get a $2.5 million salary in his final year of arbitration, is that player the Orioles need.
Dyson is coming off what was, for him, the best offensive season of his career. He batted .278/.340/.388 in a career-high 337 plate appearances. No, that’s not great, but it could be worse.
Bat him eighth or ninth and sometimes he might get on base and still be on base when the lineup turns over and someone better hits a freakin’ dinger. He can even steal: 30 stolen bases in 37 attempts this past season. All on his own, he stole far more bases than the entire Orioles team, who only stole 19.
Dyson’s defense gives him so much value that he was worth 3.1 WAR according to both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs this past season. By comparison, Orioles home run champion Mark Trumbo, despite those 47 home runs he hit, which were awesome, was worth just 1.6 or 2.2 WAR, depending on which you look at. Trumbo’s defense dragged him down that much.
Are the Orioles going to get Dyson? Probably not. The O’s don’t have much to trade for even a guy like that. Other teams, including, according to Heyman, the Athletics and Rangers, are interested in Dyson.
The Orioles shouldn’t go trading Brad Brach for one year of Jarrod Dyson, nor should they trade any of the rest of their bullpen surplus for him. They shouldn’t give up a top prospect.
But if they can get Dyson in a reasonable trade, whatever that might be they should. I’m sure that they would, because the Orioles are not actually dumb enough to let fans not liking a player stop them from doing something to improve the team, no matter what Duquette says about Bautista.