The Orioles are moving into the weekend with the same catching arrangement and the desire to find a veteran on a minor league deal. Unclear is whether the new player would be given a legitimate chance to win a job or be ticketed for Triple-A as a depth piece.
The sales pitch figures to include an opportunity to break camp with the team. But what happens after the ink dries on the contract?
Chance Sisco currently holds the advantage of being the only left-handed hitter among a trio that includes Pedro Severino and Austin Wynns, but he’s a career .203/.319/.357 hitter in 132 major league games. He’s been working with a hitting instructor in the offseason.
“When he got to us he was really swinging the bat well,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “For me, it was more of a confidence issue. I think he got in a little bit of a funk and had a hard time getting out of it. (But) I was happy with how he caught. I thought he really improved from spring training to the last game of the year, defensively, and I think there’s still a lot of room to grow defensively. But I know he’s putting it on himself this offseason to go to a facility and work on some swing thoughts that we had, as well as his body and other things.
“There was a lot of conversations at the end of the year about things he could do this winter to improve and come into spring training. I know Cos (Tim Cossins) is going to go see him and it sounds like he’s doing that.”
Severino is out of options, which is why the Nationals placed him on waivers in March. The Orioles claimed him late in spring training and he established offensive career highs across the board.
“Sevy is another guy that really improved his defense over the course of the year,” Hyde said. “He’s always been kind of a catch-first, throw-, bat-second guy and swung the bat well for us, especially against left-handed pitching.
“I like the raw power. Sevy’s really strong. I felt like he was coming into his own offensively. He played more this year than he has in the past, and is still kind of learning the big league game a little bit. Tough to do as a young player behind the plate without a ton of at-bats.
“I thought he improved defensively over the course of the year and he had a nice year offensively. He’s got some big power to center. He’s got bat-to-ball skills. So yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing Sevy in spring training.”
(Sign Bartolo Colon and let Big Sevy catch Big Sexy. The marketing ideas practically write themselves.)
I reported on Monday that the Orioles expressed interest in catcher Beau Taylor before he signed a minor league deal with the Indians.
Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias described the catching market this week as “thin and competitive.”
Baseball’s version of runway models.
“And it’s moving really quickly, as you can see,” Elias said. “There’s a lot of teams looking for catching and there just aren’t a ton of free agent catchers this year. So that’s tricky.”
If the Orioles tinker with the outfield, it’s likely to be a center fielder on a minor league deal. They could be set for starters with Anthony Santander in left, Austin Hays in center and Trey Mancini in right.
“Definitely a possibility, yeah, but there are other guys in the mix and we’ll see how it plays out,” Hyde said.
“I think Trey is an impact bat. I think he’s a run producer in the American League and a guy that’s going to hit a ton of home runs and slug and be able to play multiple positions.
“I think Anthony Santander is just scratching the surface of what kind of player he’s going to be. I like the three months that he had. I like the switch-hit. I like the corner defense a lot. And you saw what Austin did in center field. So excited about all three of those guys.”