Orioles sign Kemp to major league deal

The Orioles left their spring training complex but aren’t done conducting business.

They announced today that they’ve signed Tony Kemp to a 2024 major league contract and designated infielder Nick Maton for assignment.

The 40-man roster remains full.

Kemp, 32, signed with the Reds in February and was released less than a month later after exercising the opt-out clause in his contract. He appeared in eight exhibition games and went 7-for-21 with a double, triple, home run and five RBIs.

The Reds’ deal reportedly would have paid Kemp $1.75 million if he made the Opening Day roster, with $750,000 in bonuses available.

Kemp would receive $1 million with the Orioles, according to a source and first reported by The Baltimore Banner.

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias knows Kemp from their days with the Astros, who selected him in the fifth round in 2013 out of Vanderbilt University. Kemp made his major league debut in 2016 and spent parts of four seasons with Houston before being traded to the Cubs on July 31, 2019 for catcher Martin Maldonado.

Kemp played for the Athletics from 2020-23. His best season in the majors was 2021, when he hit .279/.382/.418 in 131 games.

Over 734 major league games, Kemp has batted .238/.325/.352 with 87 doubles, 15 triples, 35 home runs, 184 RBIs and 53 stolen bases in 69 attempts. He’s also drawn 226 walks and struck out 297 times.

Kemp offers some versatility with 229 starts at second base, 238 in left field, 38 in center and five in right. He’s a career .263/.364/.368 hitter in 27 games against the Orioles.

Maton was 0-for-23 in spring training after the Orioles acquired him from the Tigers on Feb. 7 for cash considerations.

The Orioles haven’t set their Opening Day roster, and there’s no way to tell at the moment whether today’s move impacts it. Kemp would provide a left-handed hitter for second base, which was a priority at some level during the winter.

In the meantime, right-handed-hitting Tyler Nevin remains in play for the last bench spot. He’s avoided the list of cuts and is in Baltimore.

A spot on the 40-man will open with outfielder Ryan McKenna not making the club, per a source. The team hasn’t announced McKenna’s status.

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