SARASOTA, Fla. - Seeking a veteran outfielder to compete for a job in spring training, the Orioles have signed Eric Young Jr. to a minor league deal that includes an invitation to major league camp, according to an industry source.
Young, who turns 34 in May, is a career .245/.312/.332 hitter in 10 major league seasons. He appeared in 41 games with the Angels last year, slashing .202/.248/.303 in 117 plate appearances, and also has played for the Rockies, Mets, Braves and Yankees.
Though bringing limited power to the table with only 13 home runs, Young led the National League in stolen bases with 46 back in 2013 while splitting the season between the Rockies and Mets. Jacoby Ellsbury led the majors with 52 while playing for the Red Sox.
Young has spent most of the past two seasons at Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels’ organization, batting .305/.375/.449 in 83 games in 2017 and .300/.367/.453 last summer in 84 games. He’s a career .291/.379/.413 hitter in 1,025 minor league games.
With his most recent action coming in the Mexican Pacific Winter League, Young has batted .276/.358/.336 over 32 games with Hermosillo.
How the Orioles envision using Young in camp will be revealed later, but he’s played all three outfield positions and second base in the majors. Most of his experience is in left field with 342 starts among his 393 appearances. He’s made 80 starts in center, 34 in right and 46 at second base.
Young hasn’t been used in the infield at the major league level since making one start for the Mets at second base in 2014. He played seven innings at second for Salt Lake last summer and has been starting in center field for Hermosillo.
Early projections put Trey Mancini in left field and Cedric Mullins in center, but the former could switch to the opposite corner. Young could win a starting job in any spot, serve as a backup or be gone.
The competition includes Joey Rickard, also capable of playing all three positions in the outfield, and DJ Stewart, a former first round pick who made his major league debut in September and plays right and left. Yusniel Díaz, Ryan McKenna and Mike Yastrzemski are in camp as non-roster invites.
Young is a switch-hitter who has slashed .241/.314/.330 from the left side in the majors and .252/.307/.335 from the right.
Mark Trumbo, cautiously optimistic that he’ll be ready for opening day, likely will serve as the designated hitter rather than play the outfield. But he’s bringing a glove to camp just in case.
Manager Brandon Hyde will decide whether Jonathan Villar is the shortstop or second baseman, with the latter appearing to be the most likely scenario. Young could provide another option at second, but recent usage suggests he’s tabbed as an outfielder with the Orioles.
Hyde can shed more light on the subject Tuesday afternoon.
Pitchers and catchers report to camp on Tuesday, and position players are due to arrive on Sunday. The first full-squad workout is Feb. 18.
The initial camp roster included 18 non-roster invites, but the Orioles have added Young and catcher Jesus Sucre. They also signed veteran pitcher Nate Karns to a major league deal, their most recent transaction before Young, that guarantees $800,000 and includes a possible $200,000 in incentives based on innings.
Young, a 30th round pick of the Rockies out of Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) Community College, is the son of former second baseman and outfielder Eric Young, who last played in the majors in 2006 to conclude a 15-year career.