A split decision in left field

The Orioles are settled at most positions for the 2013 season, with Adam Jones set in center field, Nick Markakis in right, Manny Machado at third, J.J. Hardy at shortstop and Matt Wieters behind the plate. They would like to retain first baseman Mark Reynolds, but they must decide at what cost.

Left field is a moving target, to borrow one of manager Buck Showalter’s favorite expressions.

Do the Orioles attempt to re-sign Nate McLouth? Do they roll the dice again with Nolan Reimold, who was handed the job last spring and now is recovering from surgery to remove a herniated disc in his neck? Do they platoon McLouth and Reimold? Do they put Chris Davis in left? Do they go outside the organization in search of a big bat?

Reimold actually has put up slightly better numbers against right-handers. In 525 career at-bats, he’s hitting .263/.339/.465 with 24 homers and 78 RBIs. In 283 career at-bats against left-handers, he’s hitting .258/.336/.438 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs.

McLouth became a regular in left field with the Orioles and a productive replacement for Markakis atop the order. He also was the only player whose bat didn’t go into deep freeze in the American League Division Series. But he’s a career .223/.303/.346 hitter in 665 at-bats against left-handers, including .197/.293/.288 in 66 at-bats this season. He’s hitting .257/.346/.447 in 1,922 at-bats against right-handers.

Xavier Avery and LJ Hoes could be thrown into the mix in spring training. Hoes is starting in left field today for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League.

Can Alex Rodriguez play left field? I hear he may be available.

Definitely a moving target.

Here’s the list of potential free-agent outfielders and DHs, as provided by MLBTradeRumors.com:

Left fielders
Travis Buck (29)
Melky Cabrera (28)
Jonny Gomes (32)
Scott Hairston (33)
Josh Hamilton (32)
Eric Hinske (35)
Reed Johnson (36)
Andruw Jones (36)
Austin Kearns (33)
Carlos Lee (37)
Ryan Ludwick (34)
Darnell McDonald (34)
Juan Pierre (35)
Juan Rivera (34)
Drew Sutton (30)
Delmon Young (27)

Center fielders
Alfredo Amezaga (35)
Rick Ankiel (33)
Michael Bourn (30)
Curtis Granderson (32)
Scott Hairston (33)
Mitch Maier (31)
Angel Pagan (31)
Cody Ross (32)
Grady Sizemore (30)
B.J. Upton (28)
Shane Victorino (32)

Right fielders
Brian Bixler (30)
Travis Buck (29)
Matt Diaz (35)
Kosuke Fukudome (36)
Torii Hunter (37)
Andruw Jones (36)
Ryan Ludwick (34)
Xavier Nady (34)
Juan Rivera (34)
Cody Ross (32)
Ichiro Suzuki (39)
Nick Swisher (32)

Designated hitters
Bobby Abreu (39)
Johnny Damon (39)
Travis Hafner (36)
Raul Ibanez (41)
Hideki Matsui (39)
David Ortiz (38)
Luke Scott (35)
Jim Thome (42)
Delmon Young (27)

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