The Orioles found their left-handed hitting corner outfielder today without spending in free agency.
The club announced that it acquired Seth Smith from the Mariners for pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations.
Smith, 34, batted .249/.342/.415 (94-for-378) with 16 home runs and a career-high 63 RBIs over 137 games with the Mariners last season. He hit .326 (28-for-86) with runners in scoring position and was 6-for-11 with the bases loaded.
Smith is signed through the 2017 season and is set to earn $7 million. Meanwhile, Gallardo will make $11 million and his contract includes a $13 million option for 2018 with a $2 million buyout.
Despite the cash going to Seattle, the Orioles are still saving around $4 million in the transaction, according to a source.
The Orioles remain open to re-signing Mark Trumbo as their designated hitter. They can plug Smith into right field, where he’s appeared in 349 games. He’s played left in 499 and center in nine during his 10 years in the majors.
“Seth Smith is a veteran leader, good on-base man a proven hitter,” executive vice president Dan Duquette wrote in a text message. “We look forward to his contributions to the 2017 Orioles.”
Smith is a career .261/.344/.447 hitter with the Rockies, Athletics, Padres and Mariners. The former second-round pick out of the University of Mississippi is a career .272/.355/.472 hitter against right-handers and a .202/.282/.312 hitter against lefties.
The Orioles could work Joey Rickard into a platoon with Smith or left fielder Hyun Soo Kim. They also could seek to obtain another right-handed hitting outfielder. There’s still lots of offseason remaining for Duquette.
The question remains whether Smith also could serve as a leadoff hitter. He’s made 80 starts atop the order and produced a .256/.327/.443 slash line. He’s mostly batted second, making 240 starts in that spot.
Smith homered in four consecutive games against the Orioles on June 30-July 3 at Safeco Field. He ranked fifth among American League outfielders with a .994 fielding percentage in 2016 and has posted a career .989 fielding percentage as an outfielder.
Today marks the fourth time that Smith has been traded.
Gallardo, 30, was a disappointment for the Orioles after signing as a free agent on Feb. 25 and having his contract restructured from three guaranteed years to two years and an option following the physical. Concerns over his shoulder led to a stint on the disabled list, and Gallardo finished 6-8 with a 5.42 ERA and 1.585 WHIP in 23 starts over 118 innings.
“Gallardo gives us the veteran presence that we have been searching for,” said Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto. “He has a track record of durability and success as a starting pitcher. After examining the free agent and trade market, Yovani is the best fit for our club as we move forward this offseason.”