The Orioles shuffled their outfield picture again on Saturday, making a move to designate Dwight Smith Jr. for assignment. They also selected the contract of outfielder Mason Williams to bring him to Baltimore from the alternate training site in Bowie.
The immediate logic to this move probably has more to do with the Orioles calling up prospect Ryan Mountcastle on Friday. Mountcastle appears to be ticketed for the left field starting job on a regular basis. Whether this is wise remains to be seen. As Smith is mostly a left fielder, and with the Orioles not really having a backup center fielder on the roster, dumping Smith for Williams seems to be about having the fourth outfielder be an actual fourth outfielder.
If the strange twists and turns of roster machinations don’t bring Smith back to Baltimore at any point, he’ll end his Orioles career with a battling line of .238/.298/.405 in 122 games across the 2019 and 2020 seasons. That is performance that will keep a guy around on a rebuilding team as long as he isn’t playing the same position as a prospect the team deems MLB-ready. Once the prospect is ready, well, here we are.
Smith, 27, may end up being more memorable as an Oriole for his virtual Orioles performance than for his real world O’s performance. He was selected as the O’s representative in MLB’s Player’s League, based in the game MLB The Show 20, for some alternate entertainment in the early, anxious days of the pandemic where nothing was happening and people mostly hadn’t adjusted to that yet.
This was some fine entertainment for what it was, and the fact that Smith had some success with a bunch of poorly-rated players that make up the Orioles roster in that game was fun. It’s never going to show up on his Baseball Reference player page, but it was cool and I’m glad the O’s had a player who was good at this game with a good personality to play in the league.
Good memories from a video game tournament are only worth so much. The recent Orioles swoon has included poor defense and poor baserunning from Smith, including a play where he blew through the third base coach’s stop sign and was thrown out. He also had a poor read on a fly ball that fell for a hit even though its Statcast expected batting average was .000. Add to that his 2020 hitting line of .222/.306/.365 and again, here we are.
According to Fangraphs, Smith has a minor league option remaining. The O’s could have sent him to the alternate training site if they wanted. Instead, they sent him to the great DFA in the sky to clear a 40-man roster and 60-man player pool spot. Williams, 29, who appeared in 11 games for the 2019 Orioles, gets the 40-man spot. We’ll see who is added tot he player pool, if anyone.