One of the most enjoyable things about writing about the Orioles is that the audience is passionate and full of ideas.
Everyone knows the Orioles are searching for another outfielder, and the list of competent free agents is, unlike at any other position, surprisingly rife with possibilities.
I’ve mentioned Matt Joyce, David Murphy, Will Venable and even Shane Victorino as left-handed hitting possibilities to play right field, and yes, I know that Victorino abandoned hitting left-handed a few years ago, but he says he’s willing to give switch-hitting another try.
A reader suggested another name that wasn’t on the MLBTradeRumors.com list of free agents.
What about Nate McLouth?
McLouth underwent a cleanup procedure in August on his right shoulder. He missed the entire 2015 season following surgery to repair a torn labrum he suffered in July 2014.
After leaving the Orioles in Dec. 2013, McLouth signed with the Nationals. His two-year $10.75 million contract with a $750,000 buyout for a third year has ended.
It was a deal the Orioles wouldn’t match—especially the $6.5 million option for 2016 that’s now been bought out.
The Orioles hoped that David Lough would be just as good as McLouth, and he’d be cheaper. He wasn’t, and he’s gone, too.
Hyun-soo Kim is presumably the new left fielder, and McLouth, who’ played some in right field, but never with the Orioles, is looking for work.
McLouth was invaluable in 2012, especially after Nick Markakis was lost in September with a broken thumb, and his .258 average with 12 home runs in 2013 looks better in retrospect than it did then.
He was hitting in the high .280’s into August, but in that month, McLouth hit .194 and .218 in September.
In 2013, McLouth stole 30 bases, and the Orioles could certainly use some speed.
Now for a dose of reality. McLouth is now 34 and hit horribly for the Nationals in 2014. When his season ended in July, McLouth was hitting just .173 with a home run and seven RBIs in 79 games.
He hasn’t played a major league game for more than 18 months.
McLouth is a genuinely nice man who adored Baltimore. He compared the Orioles crowds in 2012 to college football ones, and that wasn’t meant as a knock.
Buck Showalter called him and jokingly threatened him if he didn’t re-sign. In December he did, turning down an offer from Tampa Bay.
While readers often have good ideas for a blog, it would surprise me if the Orioles took this fan’s advice, and took a flyer on McLouth.
The Orioles already have Dariel Alvarez, Nolan Reimold, Rule 5 pick Joey Rickard, Henry Urrutia and newly acquired Efren Navarro to compete for the right field job.
They also have Xavier Avery, Alfredo Marte and Joey Terdoslavich on minor league contracts, and if he passes through waivers, perhaps L.J. Hoes.
While it’s tempting to say, let’s just add another player, McLouth would need games to play in, and there may not be enough innings to go around for all those outfielders.
Of course, if the Orioles add a player on a major league contract, they’ll get those innings and some of those on minor league invites won’t.
If 2012 or 13 comes back again, Nate McLouth would be a nice addition to the Orioles, but sadly for him, it’s now 2016.
It would be great to have the friendly man with the upbeat, honest personality in the clubhouse, but it would be better if he could recapture some of that magic that he’s seemingly lost.