The Orioles made a nice addition on Friday. They added a lefty-hitting corner outfielder with solid numbers against right-handed pitching and one that could upgrade their team on-base percentage.
They acquired 34-year-old Seth Smith from the Seattle Mariners for right-handed starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo and cash considerations.
So what happens now and how does that deal impact the outfield, lineup and rotation moving forward?
Smith is a platoon player: Smith has clearly defined splits and he is a much better hitter against right-handed pitchers. This likely means he will be platooned by the Orioles, who faced right-handers in 75 percent of their 2016 plate appearances. This means Smith will play a lot.
Last season, he hit .167/.242/.233 against left-handed pitchers and .256/.351/.431 against right-handers. In his career, he has hit .202/.282/.312 with an OPS of .594 versus left-handed pitchers and .272/.355/.472 with an OPS of .827 against right-handers. Those are solid numbers against right-handers, and he has proven he hits righties well over many years.
The Orioles apparently are not done adding outfielders. As it stands today, they have one corner outfielder in Smith that needs a platoon partner and another in Hyun Soo Kim who didn’t play much at all against lefty pitchers last year.
Smith could bat first or second: No, he is not a prototypical leadoff hitter, but yes, he does have some experience batting leadoff in his career, although second is where he has hit the most since reaching the majors in 2007.
In 373 career plate appearances batting first, Smith has hit .256/.327/.443. In 1,016 plate appearances batting second, Smith has hit .249/.317/.415. He has his strongest career numbers in 558 plate appearances batting sixth at .280/.366/.513 with an OPS of .878, his best anywhere in the lineup.
What does this mean for Mark Trumbo?: Are the Orioles now out of play for Mark Trumbo? I don’t think so. If the plan had been for Trumbo to mostly serve as a designated hitter if they re-signed him, this shouldn’t really change that. The Orioles could still pursue him and they would now have a few extra million dollars available after Friday’s trade.
The Orioles are still a pretty righty-heavy hitting lineup with right-handed batters at catcher, second base, shortstop, third base and center field. Last season as a team, they hit .260/.310/.444 against right-handers, ranking sixth in batting average, 11th in OBP and tied for third in slugging. While Trumbo would add a right-handed bat to that, the Orioles may still be looking to acquire him.
What about the rotation now?: Well, it is now a more workable five starting pitchers for five spots with, in some order, Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley. Just like before the trade, they are going to need the front three to be every bit as good as we think they can be, maybe even better, and the back two to hold their own in the No. 4 and No. 5 rotation spots.
The depth has been thinned by one now, and the Triple-A rotation could/should include five of the following: Jayson Aquino, Jason Garcia, Joe Gunkel, Chris Lee, T.J. McFarland, Logan Verrett, Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright.
This is a mixed bag of potential and some pitchers with a little major league experience. Right now, they provide most of the depth at the higher levels of the minors. Parker Bridwell has been a starter but was moved to a relief role last year. David Hess pitched to a 5.37 ERA last year and is probably headed back to Double-A Bowie. It’s too soon for pitchers like Matthew Grimes and John Means, who advanced to Bowie last year.