The Orioles left three spots open on their 40-man roster Thursday as the midnight deadline approached to set it before the Rule 5 draft. They intended to add another player to it. They just needed infielder Rey Navarro to accept their major league offer.
It’s a done deal.
Navarro, 24, has agreed to terms with the Orioles after becoming a minor league free agent, according to an industry source. They gave him a major league contract, pending a physical, in order to secure him.
Plenty of teams were willing to give Navarro a minor league deal, including the Yankees, but he chose the best offer on the table.
Navarro is a switch-hitter with speed and developing power who’s also regarded as a plus defender with exceptional range at shortstop. 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 Diamondbacks chose Navarro in the third round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and traded him to the Royals three years later.
Navarro, a career .265/.312/.375 hitter in eight minor league seasons, currently is playing for Criollos de Caguas in the Puerto Rican Winter League.
The Orioles continue to stockpile infielders who are rated as plus defenders at shortstop. They signed Ozzie Martinez, Derrik Gibson and Paul Janish to minor league deals earlier this week. Janish received an invitation to spring training.
J.J. Hardy enters 2015 as the starting shortstop after signing a three-year extension in October, but the Orioles want viable options if he goes down with an injury. They weren’t satisfied with the infield defense at Norfolk this season.
Navarro could emerge as a second utility infielder to pair with Ryan Flaherty.
Navarro has played 445 games at shortstop in the minors, 320 at second base and 98 at third.