Dan Duquette has many moves he must make before the Orioles’ 2016 chances can be seriously considered. Perhaps the most difficult will be added some left-handed bats to the lineup.
Not one of the six secure positions on the team is manned by a pure left-hander. J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop and Mark Trumbo are all right-handed hitters. Matt Wieters is a switch hitter.
With so many right-handed starters, the Orioles are going to need some more left-handed hitters.
Of the three likely candidates for reserve roles who are under club control -- Ryan Flaherty, Caleb Joseph and Nolan Reimold -- only Flaherty is a left-hander. Jimmy Paredes, who is a switch hitter, hits much better from the left side, but his second half swoon makes his return questionable.
The most natural solution is to re-sign Chris Davis, which the Orioles are eager to do, but that may not be possible.
It was suggested here on Thursday that Pedro Alvarez, who was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates, could work as an alternative.
If not Davis or Alvarez, what left-handed hitters can the Orioles get?
They can always circle back to Gerardo Parra. There hasn’t been much chatter about him so far, but he is left-handed and the Orioles are familiar with him.
Perhaps that familiarity is one reason we haven’t heard much chatter about him. His .268 on-base percentage in 55 games with the Orioles was far below the .369 OBP he had in 100 games with Milwaukee before his trade here.
Parra isn’t the sexiest free agent, but he is left-handed, and the Orioles need another outfielder or two.
Among available free agent first basemen, Ike Davis and Justin Morneau are both left-handed, but they are both far from their primes.
Among outfielders, how about Matt Joyce?
Joyce didn’t have a good year for the Angels in 2015, but he loves hitting at Oriole Park. In 47 games, Joyce has hit .322 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs, and the 31-year-old play against them often with Tampa Bay.
The Orioles have been interested in Alex Gordon, but he’ll be one of the most sought-after outfielders. He’d certainly be the answer, but they’ll have to compete with many others.
Some of the other available left-handed hitting corner outfielders aren’t nearly as appealing as Gordon—or even Parra.
Two are names the Orioles have shown interest in in the past, David Murphy and Will Venable.
The Orioles have tried to trade for both, and neither would be cost prohibitive.
Another interesting name is Shane Victorino. Manager Buck Showalter has spoken highly of Victorino, who said he’d like to return to switch hitting.
Victorino abandoned hitting from the left side during the 2013 season, and says that he thinks that’s a reason he’s struggled since.
The 35-year-old has played more right field than left, and could still be a backup to Adam Jones in center if the need arises. Showalter has said the Orioles would like a better alternative than what the Orioles had last year, if Jones again misses time.
Victorino has an extensive postseason resume, playing on six different teams that have played in October, winning World Series with Philadelphia in 2008 and Boston in 2013.
Duquette carefully looks at the list of players who were non-tendered, and in the past two years, signed two pitchers from the group, Ryan Webb and Wesley Wright. Neither was a success, and Wright was injured after just two games in April and never returned.
One name on the non-tender list that could intrigue Duquette is Mike Minor, who was non-tendered by the Braves. Minor could fill the Orioles’ need for a left-handed starter, but he missed the 2015 season after shoulder surgery.
Minor, who worked with pitching coach Dave Wallace and bullpen coach Dom Chiti in the Atlanta organization, was a double-digit winner in 2012 and 2013, and he’s only 27.
NOTE: Vouchers for autograph sessions for Dec. 12’s FanFest at the Baltimore Convention Center go on sale Saturday morning at 10 a.m. By 9 p.m. tonight, the Orioles will list the sessions at www.orioles.com/fanfest.
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