Almost two full months after expressing confidence that they had a deal done, the Orioles finally reached agreement today with outfielder Nolan Reimold on a minor league contract, according to sources.
Final details are being worked out before the deal, which includes an invitation to spring training, becomes official.
The Orioles hadn’t been in contact with Reimold since December until reaching out to him a few weeks ago to reiterate their interest in bringing him back to the organization. The Indians were his most aggressive suitors, with manager Terry Francona getting involved, and briefly emerged as the favorites. The Athletics checked on Reimold last week, but they didn’t make an offer.
Reimold preferred to play on the East Coast and wanted to rejoin the Orioles, and an agreement apparently was reached today after they included an opt-out clause in his contract. The Indians’ offer also included an opt-out.
Reimold, 31, batted a combined .232/.282/.435 with five doubles, three home runs and 13 RBIs in 29 games with the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks in 2014. He went 11-for-52 with four doubles, two home runs, nine RBIs and 22 strikeouts in 22 games with the Blue Jays and 5-for-17 with a double, one home run, four RBIs and 10 strikeouts in seven games with the Diamondbacks.
The Orioles removed Reimold from the 60-day disabled list and designated him for assignment on July 1. The Blue Jays claimed him off waivers.
Reimold played in only 40 games in 2013 due to a hamstring injury and a corrective procedure to fuse vertebrae in his neck. He batted .313 with six doubles, five homers and 10 RBIs in 16 games in 2012 before suffering a herniated disk, an injury believed to be caused by his tumble into the seats at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.
Because Reimold was out of minor league options, the Orioles were left in a bind this summer once his injury rehab assignment ended at Double-A Bowie. He batted .315 with three doubles, two homers and nine RBIs in 17 games with the Baysox.
The Orioles had Nelson Cruz, Delmon Young and Steve Pearce on the roster, leaving no room for another right-handed corner outfielder and designated hitter.
Reimold is back in the organization that selected him in the second round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft out of Bowling Green University. He’s a career .251/.324/.439 hitter in six major league seasons.
The White Sox, Giants and Phillies also had some interest in signing Reimold to a minor league deal at various points during the winter. He sought a major league contract before settling on the Orioles.
Vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson confirmed tonight that the Orioles reached agreement with Reimold. A contract hasn’t been signed, however.
“A guy like Nolan, obviously his injury history is well-documented, but it’s not a huge risk for our club. It’s not a risk at all,” Anderson said.
“I think people are aware of his upside. He’s a talented, physical guy. The main thing he does is he has power and patience and has shown the ability to get on base even when he’s struggling at the plate, which we value. I think it’s a good fit for him, obviously. Being realistic, there are outfielders ahead of him, several of them. He’s got to work his way back and he knows that. But we feel he’s worth it.
“Buck (Showalter) wanted him back, Dan wanted him back, Ned Rice was an advocate of bringing him back. There’s probably a comfort level for Nolan, knowing that people know him and what he can do when at his best, and being aware of specific injuries he’s had and his progress coming back.
“The injury he had takes time and as it’s taking time, you’re losing at-bats. Then comes the inevitable spiral downward.”