clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Wednesday Bird Droppings: Orioles add another left-handed first base option

O is for O’Hearn, McCann is introduced, and the offseason rolls on.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

MLB: JUL 07 Royals at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Mike Elias is absolutely dedicated to having a fringy left-handed first base option on the Orioles’ 40-man roster. On Tuesday, the front office made their first “major” move of the new year, acquiring Ryan O’Hearn from the Kansas City Royals in exchange for cash considerations. They also designated pitcher Chris Vallimont for assignment in order to open up a spot for O’Hearn.

This is the latest transaction in an offseason that has also seen the Orioles add Franchy Cordero and Lewin Díaz to the mix. Cordero is still part of the organization on a minor league deal while Díaz has since been DFA’ed and traded himself. Perhaps it’s a coincidence, and the Orioles just happen to like the value, but moves like this—plus their reported interest in Eric Hosmer—would seem to indicate that they want to shore up that role.

It’s unlikely that O’Hearn has been brought in as an everyday option, though. The 29-year-old has played in parts of five big league seasons as a first baseman and corner outfielder, and owns a career batting line of .219/.293/.390 with an 83 OPS+. That’s not exactly inspiring, but his historic exit velocities and peripheral numbers from 2022 do indicate that he’s been a bit unlucky, so maybe there is more to tap into.

Even so, it’s interesting that the Orioles opted to trade cash for O’Hearn, who is also due a salary of $1.4 million after avoiding arbitration with the Royals earlier this winter. It’s not a huge investment, and it will seem smaller once his new teammates receive their arbitration raises, but there were certainly cheaper options. So you have to imagine Elias and company are excited about something with the player.

Ultimately, if the Orioles really want a left-handed hitting option at first base, then Anthony Santander feels like a more logical choice, provided they believe in his ability to field the position. Of course, that only works if he’s still on the roster, and there are still a couple months of offseason left for the folks in the warehouse to pull off a blockbuster trade.


McCann brings veteran presence to ‘exciting’ young O’s team |
One move that I have been quite pleased with this offseason is the trade for James McCann. The Orioles needed a more viable option behind Adley Rutschman. Something interesting that came up in McCann’s introduction is that he says he was told that both he and Rutschman could/will play some first base this year, further evidence that the O’s are looking to shake things up at the position.

A few more from the 2023 season wish list | Steve Melewski
Maybe I am alone here, but I don’t need to see much more from Terrin Vavra. He’s been in the organization for 2+ seasons. He got some big league playing time last year. It was...fine? There’s not a ton of pop in the bat, and Brandon Hyde didn’t seem excited about putting him on the infield. You have to imagine the organization has enough data on him to determine whether he’s capable of an everyday role. The signing of Adam Frazier indicates they don’t believe that to be the case.

Which Oriole would you deal — Mateo, Mullins or Santander? | The Athletic
I’m comfortable parting with Mateo and Santander. My reasoning is that Mateo’s bat is rough, and I think Gunnar Henderson and/or one of the middle infielder prospects can do a fine job as a replacement, and Santander’s bat isn’t as attractive as a 1B/DH type, which is the role he seems bound to take on. I would happily watch two months of Kyle Stowers in the outfield, and then maybe promote Colton Cowser if he’s deemed ready at that point.

Orioles birthdays

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

  • Jay Tibbs turns 61 today. The pitcher had a three-season stint with the O’s from 1988 through 1990, accumulating a 4.92 ERA over 263.2 total innings.

This day in history

2011 - Free agent reliever Kevin Gregg signs a two-year deal with the Orioles, coming over from the division-rival Blue Jays.