Peterson returns to Orioles on minor league deal

The utility competition in Orioles camp next spring is going to include veteran Jace Peterson.

The Orioles have re-signed Peterson to a minor league deal, according to an industry source, and he’s likely to receive an invitation to spring training.

Thumbnail image for Peterson swinging white father's day.jpgPeterson was arbitration-eligible, cleared outright waivers earlier this month and elected free agency. The club has wanted to keep him in the organization, though there was an element of uncertainty attached due to the pending hire of a head of baseball operations.

New executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias is leaning on people like Brian Graham, the director of player development who’s been handling a variety of responsibilities on an interim basis.

Peterson came off the 40-man roster in a flurry of moves on Nov. 1 that created space for outfielders Mark Trumbo and Austin Hays and relievers Richard Bleier and Pedro Araujo to be reinstated from the 60-day disabled list. Pitchers Gabriel Ynoa and Sean Gilmartin and infielder Corban Joseph agreed to terms on minor league deals, but Peterson tested the market.

The Orioles value Peterson for his ability to play the infield and outfield - an important skill set for any team considering a three-man bench - and his approach to the game. Former manager Buck Showalter believed that Peterson would have fit on past playoff rosters.

Salary was an issue with projecting that Peterson would earn $1.3 million in arbitration, a steep price for the Orioles to pay for a utility player. He batted .195/.308/.325 with 13 doubles, two triples, three home runs and 28 RBIs in 93 games.

Selected off waivers from the Yankees on April 24, Peterson played third base, second base, shortstop, left field and right field and pitched one inning in an emergency relief role.

The Orioles designated Engelb Vielma for assignment yesterday to make room for pitcher Dillon Tate on the 40-man roster. It’s possible that he clears waivers and stays in the organization, and the utility competition in spring training also could include Breyvic Valera and Steve Wilkerson.

There’s also the chance that the Orioles sign or trade for another infielder. They could select one in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 13 in Las Vegas.

The 40-man roster is full, but the Orioles will open up at last one more spot in order to participate.

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