The Orioles remain open to re-signing free agent outfielder Delmon Young, who evolved into baseball’s best pinch-hitter this season. However, Young is looking for a two-year deal, which doesn’t figure to provide a match.
If Young returns to Baltimore, the agreement likely would cover only the 2015 season. Young, naturally, will seek a lengthier contract after auditioning for the Orioles at their minicamp in January and settling for a minor league deal.
Young batted .302/.337/.442 with 11 doubles, a triple, seven home runs and 30 RBIs in 83 games, went 10-for-20 as a pinch-hitter during the regular season and came off the bench to deliver a three-run double in Game 2 of the American League Division Series.
There’s also the good-luck factor. Young has appeared in the postseason in the last six years with four teams.
It’s true that teams have approached the Orioles about pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, who’s owed another three years and almost $39 million. And, yes, the Orioles would need to take on another big contract.
Before any rumors develop, the Orioles aren’t interested in Braves outfielder B.J. Upton, who agreed to a five-year deal worth $75.25 million in November 2012 and has batted .184/.268/.289 and .208/.287/.333 in two seasons. He’s also totaled 324 strikeouts.
The Braves checked with the Orioles to gauge their interest in an Upton-for-Jimenez swap, but it’s not happening.
Upton is owed $46.35 million through 2017. Any takers?
I’ve contributed to the speculation that the Orioles could non-tender outfielder Alejandro De Aza, who’s projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to make $5.9 million next season. Well, I’m hearing that the Orioles have every intention of keeping De Aza, who could platoon in left field against right-handed pitching.
The Orioles haven’t engaged in any formal talks with De Aza’s representatives at this point, but it’s early. The sides still need to exchange figures and negotiations will get serious after the Christmas holiday.
The Orioles currently have three positions that need to be filled on their minor league staff. They’re in the process of deciding on replacements for Triple-A Norfolk hitting coach Denny Walling, Single-A Frederick field coach Torre Tyson and minor league infield coordinator Dave Anderson.
Walling retired, Tyson didn’t have his contract renewed and Anderson was hired as Triple-A Salt Lake manager.
The Orioles could fill all three positions from within the organization. They’re evaluating their options.
Norfolk field coach Jose Hernandez and Double-A Bowie field coach Butch Davis are candidates to replace Walling.
I’ve heard that the Orioles also are interested in infielders Paul Janish and Rey Navarro.
Janish, 32, hit a combined .268/.323/.359 this year in 113 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs and Triple-A Omaha. Selected by the Reds in the fifth round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of Rice University, he is a career .214/.284/.288 hitter in 431 major league games with the Braves and Reds. He spent 2014 in the minors.
It appears that the Orioles will have lots of competition for Navarro, 24, a switch-hitter with speed and developing power who’s also regarded as a plus defender with exceptional range at shortstop.
The Diamondbacks chose Navarro in the third round of the 2007 draft and traded him to the Royals three years later. He batted a combined .282/.343/.435 this season with 34 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs and 57 RBIs in 132 games at Double-A Pensacola and Triple-A Louisville in the Reds organization. Navarro was a Double-A All-Star before starting at shortstop with Louisville.
The Orioles really are focused on upgrading the shortstop position, where Janish has played in 344 games in the majors and Navarro has played in 445 over eight minor league seasons. They signed Ozzie Martinez to a minor league contract this week because of his glove. They also signed Derrik Gibson to give them another option.
The deals for Martinez and Gibson don’t include invitations to spring training.
Infielder Buck Britton, brother of closer Zach Britton, remains a minor league free agent. The Orioles want to re-sign him, but there’s a sense that he may find an organization that offers a better chance for advancement to the majors.
Earlier this week, the Orioles signed pitcher Oliver Drake (Navy) to a major league deal after he led the Eastern League with 31 saves this summer. Drake drew interest from at least three teams that were willing to give him a major league contract.
Teams must set their 40-man rosters by midnight tonight. The Orioles are expected to add pitchers Mike Wright, Tyler Wilson and Parker Bridwell. They also must consider catcher Brian Ward and shortstop-turned-reliever Mychal Givens.
My colleague, Steve Melewski, provided a list of Orioles minor leaguers who would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if left unprotected. Cuban outfielder Dariel Alvarez isn’t eligible:
Reliever Darren O’Day and wife Elizabeth Prann became the proud parents of a baby girl, Claire, born last week. Mother and daughter are doing well.
I don’t have any sidearm jokes at the moment, but stay tuned.