O's don't rule out outside help for second base

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Brian Roberts headshot.jpgWhile acknowledging that the Orioles are confident Brian Roberts will be ready for the start of the season, team president Andy MacPhail concedes that he is beginning to worry about the pace of his recovery.

“It’s getting to be something that’s on my radar screen, even though at
the present time our athletic staff feels like he’s going to be ready by
Opening Day. By now we have to start thinking about, ‘What if he isn’t

Roberts was diagnosed with a small herniated disk in his back last month and experienced a setback this week with a reaction to some anti-inflammatory medication. Currently suffering with “flu-like” symptoms, Roberts is expected to be sidelined from baseball activities through at least Thursday. As the regular season looms, MacPhail hasn’t ruled out seeking outside help if Roberts continues to face setbacks.

“We will see what’s out there,” he said. “Obviously, we have weekly
calls with our pro scouts, and we have to let them know what’s going on
in our camp. We might have to shift their focus a little bit from what
the initial menu was. And then, obviously, we are going to have to start
exploring more internal options as well.”

There isn’t much left in free agency, but looking at current internal options, Justin Turner could be a decent stopgap in a pinch. Turner, 25, was acquired from the Reds in the Ramon Hernandez trade in 2008. He doesn’t project to be a major league regular, however he has a .307/.373/.430 batting line over four seasons in the minors, doesn’t strike out often and won’t hurt you with the glove. Unfortunately, he’s currently nursing a foot contusion.

Of course, the real concern is if Roberts’ back problems will be a lingering issue throughout the season.

Angels sign outfielder Rafael Ortega to one-year contract

Rafael Ortega
AP Photo/John Bazemore
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According to the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the club has agreed to terms on a one-year major league contract with outfielder Rafael Ortega.

It’s worth the MLB minimum, which should be a little north of $507,000 in 2016.

Ortega was once considered a top prospect in the Rockies’ minor league system, but he has made only six total plate appearances at the big league level since signing out of Venezuela in 2008. The 24-year-old batted .286/.367/.378 with two home runs and 17 stolen bases in 131 games this past season for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Memphis.

He’ll be in the running for an Opening Day roster spot next spring in Angels camp.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of MLB.com, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.