Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette phoned into “The Mid-Atlantic Sports Report” earlier today on MASN. Not surprisingly, last night’s trade was the first topic of discussion.
What motivated the Orioles to send closer Jim Johnson to the Athletics for infielder Jemile Weeks and a PTBNL?
“Jimmy did a nice job and that was a difficult choice for us, but we were looking to create some flexibility for the team to go out and staff some of the other areas. And we think we’ll be able to find and maintain a good, strong bullpen,” Duquette said.
“We traded Jimmy for an infielder, Jemile Weeks, who is good on-base and he’s a good offensive player and he can play some other positions. And we’re going to take the money that would have funded Johnson’s $10 million and we’re going to go out and staff some other areas of our ballclub.
“I think when you take a look at the trade, you have to take a look at some of the other people that we will sign here in the next couple weeks to fill out our roster in order to properly evaluate the trade.”
The shopping list hasn’t changed beyond a closer. The Orioles want an outfielder, a starting pitcher who can absorb innings, and a left-handed designated hitter.
Multiple reports today have linked the Orioles to outfielder Nelson Cruz, who’s hit 33, 22, 29, 24 and 27 home runs over the past five seasons with the Texas Rangers. MLBTradeRumors.com listed him as the 17th-best free agent on the market.
You know about the baggage, and it goes beyond his defensive limitations. He was suspended 50 games for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. Also, he would cost the Orioles a first-round pick in the 2014 draft.
It would make more sense if Cruz, 33, batted from the left side and could primarily serve as the designated hitter. He’s a career .262/.317/.489 hitter against right-handers, and a .285/.356/.513 hitter vs. left-handers.
Manager Buck Showalter won’t tolerate defensive lapses. He won’t give away runs in order to score a few.
It would be an interesting pairing if it came to fruition.
Cruz made $10.5 million this year. He’s probably looking for a three-year deal, and who could blame him in this market?
As for Weeks, he’s got a minor league option remaining and could be sent down if he doesn’t make the club in spring training. That’s worth noting.
Maybe he could wrestle Jonathan Schoop for the second base job at Triple-A Norfolk. Maybe Schoop starts at second base for the Orioles on opening day. Maybe it’s Weeks - or someone else.
It’s anybody’s guess on Dec. 3.