If you feel like you’ve been reading pretty much the same Orioles offseason rumors for the past two months or five years, that’s probably because you have. Every now and again a different name will enter the picture, but otherwise it’s a lot of the same. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick joined the “Orioles are waiting for a bargain” chorus on Friday morning.
Also repeating what has been said elsewhere many times before, Crasnick said the Orioles are “intent” on adding a lefty bat. That leaves the usual assortment of names remaining on the free agent market.
Michael Saunders and Michael Bourn are the two that come up most frequently, and Crasnick adds Colby Rasmus and Brandon Moss as possibilities.
Moss, 33, who just batted .225/.300/.484 in 128 games with the Cardinals in 2016, has that particular Orioles feel since he crushed 28 home runs but also struck out 141 times. Set him up in Camden Yards and cut him loose? This has worked for the Orioles before, at least for a little while.
Rasmus is a player the Orioles should have signed before the 2015 season, which doesn’t mean they should sign him now that it’s two years later. Rasmus batted only .206/.286/.355 in the most recent season. At age 30, he probably has better than that left in the bank, but that recent struggle could be what drops him into the O’s price range.
One player the Orioles have discussed, but shied away from, according to Crasnick, is free agent infielder Luis Valbuena. That’s an interesting one if only because it’s not one of the same names we’ve been hearing for two months.
Valbuena, 31, is coming off a season where he batted .260/.357/.459 in 90 games with the Astros. A hamstring injury that ended up requiring surgery shut him down for the year in late July. He had been in the middle of what could have been a career year.
However, Crasnick notes that the Orioles would prefer an outfielder, which Valbuena is decidedly not. Given the current state of the O’s depth chart, this is a reasonable preference. Valbuena has played all of 15.1 innings in the outfield over a nine year MLB career. I have seen quite enough of infielders playing in the outfield, thank you.
Another one that’s new, to me, is Crasnick’s suggestion that the Orioles could “revisit” trade talks regarding Mariners outfielder Seth Smith. I consume a lot of Orioles rumors and I missed the memo that Smith trade talks were visited in the first place. The Mariners were said to be shopping the 34-year-old outfielder back in December but the Orioles were not linked to him directly at that time.
Smith will make $7 million this season. Over his past two years with Seattle, he’s batted a combined .248/.336/.429, in line with a career performance that was consistently decent but never great. Given the black holes that the Orioles have occasionally had in left and right the last couple of seasons, that would have been welcome.
In his career overall, Smith has been acceptable according to the publicly available defensive metrics, though the 2016 season was the worst of his career to date, so that’s worth keeping an eye on.
Should the Orioles trade for Smith? They could probably do worse than him, and may well do worse than him, but I’d rather see them sign a free agent, who’s only going to cost them money rather than money as well as a player in trade.