As spring training nears its end and teams set their rosters, some veteran players will become free agents as they either opt out of contracts or are released as they fail to make those other clubs. The Orioles, always on the lookout for possible upgrades, figure to keep tabs on some of those players.
Two names in this category that have been vaguely linked to the O's in the past couple of days are David Murphy and Matt Joyce, a pair of left-handed batting veteran outfielders. Murphy, 34, has opted out of his contract with the Red Sox, meaning they'll have to add him to the roster by tomorrow or release him. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo cited a major league source who said the O's have some interest.
Joyce, 31, is in camp with the Pirates, but as Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune notes, he may not make that club. If the Pirates don't pay him a $100,000 retention bonus to send him to the minors, he would become a free agent as well, and Biertempfel has heard the O's have some interest in him as well.
It's not just out-of-towners hearing about this stuff. MASN's Roch Kubatko also added that the O's are out there "looking hard" for lefty outfielders.
Murphy is not very exciting, based on his age and performance last year. He batted .283/.318/.421 in 132 games between the Indians and Angels. That isn't great, of course, but it would have been a whole lot better than the garbage the O's fielded out there last year.
Joyce is even less exciting. He had the worst season of his career by far, mustering only a .174/.272/.291 batting line in 93 games. He was so very bad, although one thing you can say about him is that even while he was very bad, Joyce walked with some frequency.
One way to read the tea leaves about these pursuits is that the O's want to shuffle the struggling Hyun Soo Kim out of the picture, about which "internal discussions" reportedly took place over the weekend. One lefty outfielder in, one lefty outfielder out. Or something like that.
That's not necessarily the case, though. Murphy or Joyce or someone of that ilk, if the O's bring them on board, might squeeze out Nolan Reimold instead. The O's have been seeking lineup balance all offseason, as they are very righty-heavy.
This is something of a pointless pursuit, given that the Orioles were already terrible against lefty pitchers last year, and they're bringing back most of the same lineup, but it hasn't stopped them from talking about left-right balance throughout the winter and spring.
As always, the standard rule for baseball rumors is in effect: Probably nothing will happen. Maybe neither Murphy nor Joyce will become free agents. Maybe some other team will sign them before the Orioles do. Maybe the disillusionment with Kim has been overblown or the interest in these players has been exaggerated.