SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles have invited outfielders Delmon Young and Jack Cust to their mini-camp, according to an industry source, and both players are expected to arrive Tuesday at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
The Orioles are interested in signing Young and Cust to minor league deals with invitations to spring training, according to the source. Young is more likely to be signed than Cust, but it’s possible that the Orioles extend contracts to both of them.
Young, 28, is viewed strictly as a right-handed designated hitter due to his .303/.341/.471 career slash line against left-handed pitchers. He could replace Danny Valencia, who was traded to the Royals for outfielder David Lough.
Outfielders Nolan Reimold and Steve Pearce also are candidates to serve as designated hitters against lefties this season.
The first-overall pick by the Rays in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, Young is a career .282/.316/.423 hitter with 100 home runs in parts of eight seasons and 3,692 at-bats.
Young’s finest season came in 2010 with the Twins, when he batted .298/.333/.493 with 46 doubles, 21 homers and 112 RBIs and finished 10th in Most Valuable Player voting in the American League. He split last season between the Phillies and Rays, batting .260/.307/.407 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 103 games.
Cust, who turns 35 on Thursday, hasn’t played in the majors since batting .213/.344/.329 with 15 doubles, three homers and 23 RBIs in 67 games with the Mariners in 2011. Cust has a career .374 on-base percentage in 10 seasons, which appeals to the Orioles, and he led the league with 111 walks for the Athletics in 2008. However, he also led the league in strikeouts for three straight seasons in Oakland.
Cust totaled 164 strikeouts in 124 games with the A’s in 2007, 197 in 148 games the following year and 185 in 149 games in 2009.
Cust spent the 2012 season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Las Vegas. The Rays released him on March 23, 2013.
The Orioles could provide a reunion for Cust, who appeared in 23 games for them back in 2003 and batted .260/.357/.521 with seven doubles, four homers and 11 RBIs. He got into one game in 2004, striking out in his only at-bat.
The Orioles acquired Cust from the Rockies on March 21, 2003 for Chris Richard.
Last winter, the Orioles signed veteran left-hander Mark Hendrickson after giving him a tryout at their mini-camp at Camden Yards.
In other news, the agent for Mark Reynolds has contacted the Orioles to gauge their interest in the veteran infielder. Reynolds would like to return to Baltimore this season, but he isn’t a priority at the moment. The Orioles have a clear preference for Young as a right-handed designated hitter.
Former Rays catcher Shawn Riggans will accompany Young to Sarasota on Tuesday, but the Orioles aren’t expected to sign him.
Third baseman Manny Machado won’t attend the mini-camp this week because he has an appointment Thursday to have his left knee examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles. Machado could receive clearance to begin baseball activities.
Machado will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 6.
Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton and Miguel Gonzalez continue to work out in California with vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson and will participate in the second mini-camp that begins Friday. It’s not known whether Wei-Yin Chen will attend while rehabbing his right knee.