De Aza’s importance growing in quiet offseason

Another lazy and uneventful Sunday? Not this one.

The Orioles settled on a 2015 contract with infielder Ryan Flaherty and the Blue Jays may have decided again that they were done negotiating to acquire executive vice president Dan Duquette.

I’ll pause to let you catch your breath.

The Orioles have settled with six of their 11 arbitration-eligible players. In case you missed it last night, here are the remaining five and the figures that were exchanged:

* Alejandro De Aza submitted $5.65 million and the Orioles countered at $5 million. He made $4.25 million last season.

* Steve Pearce submitted $5.4 million and the Orioles countered at $2 million. He made $700,000 last season.

* Zach Britton submitted $4.2 million and the Orioles countered at $2.2 million. He made $521,500 last season.

* Bud Norris submitted $10.25 million and the Orioles countered at $7.5 million. He made $5.3 million last season.

* Miguel Gonzalez submitted $3.95 million and the Orioles countered at $2.5 million. He made $529,000 last season.

De Aza should be a simple negotiation, but it hasn’t turned out that way.

The Orioles haven’t made many moves this winter while losing Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz and Andrew Miller to free agency. De Aza suddenly has become an extremely important part of the 2015 roster.

De Aza looks like the starting left fielder. He looks like the leadoff hitter. Do you have a better suggestion?

I’m referring to in-house candidates, of course.

De Aza is a career .271/.334/.405 hitter atop the order, where he’s received most of his at-bats. He’s really the natural choice at this point.

de-aza-fist-bump-gray-sidebar.jpgDe Aza owns a career .330 on-base percentage in parts of seven major league seasons. The Orioles ranked 17th in OBP last season at .311.

The Orioles went 14-6 in games that De Aza played after the Orioles acquired him from the White Sox on Aug. 30 for minor league pitchers Miguel Chalas and Mark Blackmar.

He looks like a steal, and not because of the record. Chalas and Blackmar weren’t regarded as prospects.

De Aza batted only .243/.309/.354 with five triples and five home runs in 122 games with the White Sox last season, but he hit .293/.341/.537 with three triples and three home runs in 20 games with the Orioles.

The Orioles need to get him off to a better start this year. He’s a career .229 /.286/.415 hitter in March/April.

It may interest you to know that De Aza is a career .305/.365/.481 hitter with runners in scoring position.

It also may interest you to know that “The Hot Stove Show” starts tonight from 6-7 p.m. on 105.7 The Fan. I’ll join MASN’s Jim Hunter if I can find a couple of huskies to pull my car through the snow.

Catcher Matt Wieters is scheduled to call into the show.

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