The Orioles have indicated they are planning to add another left-handed batter. It sure seems that the acquisition could also be an outfielder and maybe a right fielder.
Three outfielders that the club has shown some interest in this winter include Carlos González, Jon Jay and Jarrod Dyson. All three are free agents and all three may only get one-year deals or two years at the most.
They could be in the Orioles’ wheelhouse on a short-term deal. It would allow the club to potentially get Austin Hays more minor league seasoning without adding someone on a longer contract that could block any minor league outfielders from finding their way to Baltimore. The O’s outfield depth on the farm is as solid as its been in a few years.
González is a former three-time All-Star with a bat that produced an OPS of .855 or more seven times in his career and as recently as 2016. But he has also played for the Colorado Rockies and hit much better at home than on the road. He has a career home slash line of .323/.383/.593, while those numbers are .252/.308/.427 on the road. That is a home career OPS of .977 and .735 on the road. It was even a wider range last season when his home OPS was .923 compared to .606 away from Coors Field.
In 534 plate appearances for the 2017 Rockies, he hit .262/.339/.423 with 34 doubles, 14 homers, 57 RBIs and a .762 OPS. He did have a huge second half, batting .314 with an OPS of .921 after posting numbers of .221/.637 before the break.
The 32-year-old Gonzalez is a true right fielder, but also has some career time in left and center. He played almost solely in right for the 2017 Rockies. He won Gold Gloves in 2010, 2012 and 2013, but his defense is not nearly on that level anymore.
Jay has mostly played center field in his career, but can play all three outfield spots. A second-round pick of St. Louis in 2006, Jay turns 33 on March 15.
For the Chicago Cubs last season, he hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with 18 doubles, three triples, two homers and 34 RBIs. He posted 1.6 WAR according to FanGraphs.com.
While Jay brings little power ,he does bring the best on-base percentage numbers among the three outfielders being discussed here. He has a career .355 OBP, which was higher last year, and has been above .350 five times in his career.
Jay also brings splits that don’t make him strictly a platoon player. He has a career .288 average versus lefty pitching and .289 versus right-handers.
Dyson, 33, spent his first eight major league seasons with Kansas City before being traded to Seattle for pitcher Nate Karns in January 2017. Dyson brings some solid defense to the table and was ranked ninth among all American League position players in defensive WAR by Baseball-Reference.com in 2016 and 2017.
In 390 plate appearances for the Mariners last season, he hit .251/.324/.350. His career slash line is .258/.325/.352. But Dyson was never a regular for the Royals and was more of a platoon player, one that has hit .267 against right-handed pitching and .215 versus lefties over his career.
He can also bring stolen bases to the table. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 31 steals per year and that is without regular playing time. He averaged 302 plate appearances in those seasons. And he steals at a very solid rate, with a success rate of 80 percent last year (28 of 35) and a rate of 85 percent for his career.
While the Orioles stole 32 bases last season with a success rate of 71 percent, Dyson stole 28 with an 80 percent success rate.
Back in early November, MLBTradeRumors.com ranked its top 50 available free agents, rating Jay No. 39, González No. 40 and Dyson No. 42. The outlet projected that Jay would sign for two years and $14 million with Texas, González for one year at $12 million with the Orioles and Dyson for two years and $12 million with Pittsburgh. Of course, it seems the market that we expected to see back then has not quite materialized.
Even though González has the most impressive resume and track record of this group, I would rank them this way for the 2018 Orioles: Dyson, Jay, González. I value Dyson’s defense and speed the most and would also be more inclined to have interest on a one-year deal.
Two more prospects lists: FanGraphs released its list of the top 100 prospects in baseball on Monday. Just one Oriole made that list, and it was Hays, who was well down their list at No. 90. Baseball Prospectus released its list of 101 top prospects and rated Ryan Mountcastle No. 65 and Hays No. 72. We’ve also seen Chance Sisco make previous top 100 lists and five are now out, counting Baseball America, ESPN and MLBPipeline.com.
Where the Orioles were ranked:
* Hays: No. 21 by Baseball America, No. 23 by MLBPipeline.com, No. 72 by Baseball Prospectus, No. 79 by ESPN, No. 90 by FanGraphs
* Mountcastle: No. 65 by Baseball Prospectus, No. 71 by Baseball America and No. 98 byMLBPipeline.com
* Sisco: No. 53 by ESPN and No. 68 by Baseball America