Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has added a hitter one week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training, claiming first baseman/outfielder Russ Canzler off waivers from the New York Yankees.
The Orioles also designated catcher Luis Martinez for assignment to make room for Canzler on the 40-man roster.
Canzler, 26, is a career .278/.347/.472 hitter in nine minor league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians. He’s hit .271/.304/.396 in 29 major league games in 2011 (Tampa Bay) and 2012 (Cleveland).
Canzler, a right-handed hitter, has batted .400/.419/.667 in 31 major league plate appearances against left-handed pitching.
His power is evident in the minors. He hit 21 homers with Double-A Tennessee in 2010, 18 with Triple-A Durham in 2011 and 22 with Triple-A Columbus in 2012. He hit three homers in 26 games with the Indians last year.
The Indians designated Canzler for assignment on Dec. 19, 2012 to make room on the 40-man roster for former Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds. The Toronto Blue Jays claimed him off waivers on Dec. 21. The Indians claimed him off waivers on Jan. 2, 2013. The Yankees claimed him off waivers a day later, then designated him on Feb. 1 after they signed Travis Hafner.
Now it’s the Orioles’ turn.
“Canzler is an experienced right-handed batter with power who can compete for time at first base, outfield and DH, especially versus left-handed pitching,” Duquette said in a text message.
“He’s been very productive against major league left-handed pitchers.”
If Canzler makes the club in spring training - and he’s been known to change organizations at the drop of a hat - he could play left field against left-handed pitching while Nolan Reimold shifts to designated hitter, or he could be used as the DH. We’ll find out later how his presence impacts Danny Valencia, who’s much more effective against left-handers and could platoon at DH with Wilson Betemit.
The Orioles claimed Martinez off waivers from the Texas Rangers on Jan. 4, giving them four catchers on the 40-man roster.
Note: Valencia’s name appears in the records of the Miami-area Biogenesis clinic that is alleged to have distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of baseball players, according to this report from Yahoo! Sports.
The report states that Valencia’s name doesn’t appear next to any specific PEDs.
Major League Baseball is investigating the Biogenesis clinic and its operator, Anthony Bosch.