Could the Orioles’ search for infield depth lead them to one of their former players?
It’s a possibility.
According the multiple sources, the Orioles are interested in veteran Tim Beckham and have discussed a minor league contract.
This is an intriguing development for a couple of reasons, the first being that Beckham spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Orioles before they non-tendered him on Nov. 30, 2018. But there’s also the 80-game suspension handed down on Aug. 6, 2019 after Beckham tested positive for the performance-enhancing substance Stanozolol, a violation of Major League Baseball’s joint drug prevention and treatment program.
Beckham, who turns 30 on Monday, appeared in 88 games with the Mariners before his suspension and batted .237/.293/.461 with 21 doubles, a triple, 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in 328 plate appearances. He was used in 41 games at shortstop, 13 in left field, 10 at third base, eight at second and five at first, and Baseball-Reference.com computed his dWAR at minus-0.9.
The Mariners had 48 games remaining at the time of Beckham’s suspension. He began the season as their starting shortstop before evolving into more of a utility role.
Beckham denied knowingly taking the substance through a statement from the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“I was given a product from a trusted source who had advised me that it was safe to take,” said Beckham, who presented his case to an independent arbitrator.
Beckham said the product was tainted he looked forward to resuming his career once the suspension had been served.
Perhaps it will be in the Orioles organization.
They non-tendered Beckham after MLBTradeRumors.com projected his salary at $4.3 million in arbitration. The Mariners gave him a one-year deal at $1.75 million, with another $250,000 possible in incentives, and he hit safely in nine of his first 10 games, slashing .410/477/.846 with four home runs and 11 RBIs.
Beckham also got off to a scorching start with the Orioles after they acquired him from the Rays on July 31, 2017 for minor league pitcher Tobias Myers. He hit .394 with a 1.062 OPS and 18 extra-base hits in August, but posted a .180 average over the remainder of the season.
The former first overall draft pick batted .230 with a .661 OPS in 2018 after the Orioles moved him from shortstop to third base. He underwent core muscle surgery that cost him two months.
The non-tender decision was an easy one, but it might not have ended his ties to the Orioles, who want to find another infielder after losing Pat Valaika on a waiver claim by the Diamondbacks. Jack Reinheimer signed a minor league deal with the Twins earlier in the winter.
Valaika was designated for assignment after the Orioles claimed Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays. Ureña, who’s out of options, could handle a utility role along with spring training candidates Stevie Wilkerson and Richie Martin.
Martin is more likely to be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and become the everyday shortstop.
Beckham, meanwhile, could work out at the minor league complex in Twin Lakes Park until eligible to return.
A starting pitcher also remains on the club’s shopping list, whether on a major league or minor league deal.