SARASOTA, Fla. - The Orioles decided not to wait until Delmon Young arrived at their mini-camp before signing him to a minor league contract.
Young is expected to report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex later this week, and he already will be a member of the organization. The Orioles just announced that they signed Young to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to spring training.
Young, 28, is a candidate to serve as a right-handed designated hitter due to his .303/.341/.471 career slash line against left-handed pitchers. That role previously belonged to Danny Valencia, who was traded to the Royals for outfielder David Lough.
Young, the first overall pick by the Rays in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, is a career .282/.316/.423 hitter with 100 home runs in parts of eight major league seasons. He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2012 American League Championship Series after going 6-for-17 with a double, two homers, six RBIs and three runs scored for the Tigers, and also was 5-for-14 with a double and home run in the World Series.
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 American League Most Valuable Player voting. He split last season between the Phillies and Rays, batting .260/.307/.407 with 11 homers and 38 RBIs in 103 games.
“We have an opening in our lineup for a hitter versus left-handed pitching,” said executive vice president Dan Duquette. “He’ll be a candidate for that slot. He’s done really well against left-handed pitching over his career. And the other thing he does well is hitting in the playoffs.
“He’s a very capable hitter, a former No. 1 pick and a minor league Player of the Year. He’s distinguished himself with significant talent. And he does a couple things really well to help a ballclub. And he’s only 28 years old. He has a chance to make a significant contribution to the team.”
Since he’s already working out in Florida, Young told the Orioles that he could stop by the Sarasota complex this week to “meet people and become familiar with the staff,” Duquette said.
The Orioles’ roster is becoming jammed with right-handed designated hitter candidates, including Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce and Rule 5 pick Michael Almanzar. Young, Reimold and Pearce also can play the outfield. Almanzar is mostly a third baseman who can slide over to first.
“Competition is good, especially in camp,” Duquette said. “Each of these players lends a different skill set besides a right-handed bat.”
Meanwhile, Jack Cust contacted the Orioles about receiving a tryout and he’s expected at the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Tuesday. The Orioles could choose to sign him to a minor league deal with a spring invite.
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. He owns a career .374 on-base percentage in 10 seasons.