Randy Winn will compete for a spot on the Orioles’ bench after agreeing to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training.
Last offseason Winn signed with the Yankees for $1.1 million, only to be let go after hitting .213 with a .595 OPS in 23 games. He then latched on with the Cardinals and actually played quite a bit in St. Louis, but hit just .250 with a .693 OPS in 87 games.
He no longer has the range to be a capable center fielder defensively and batted just .227 against left-handed pitching during the past three seasons despite being a switch-hitter, so Winn’s potential for usefulness is pretty limited at age 38 and the Orioles actually have good outfield depth.
The Orioles singlehandedly kept the rumor mill churning this weekend. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the club is interested in making a play for free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, adding him to a list of potential candidates that also includes free agent righty Alex Cobb. The two are expected to command similar contracts in free agency, but Morosi notes that the Orioles may prefer Cobb based on his familiarity with the AL East.
Lynn, 30, is two years removed from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. Despite missing the 2016 season, he bounced back with a respectable 11-8 record in 33 starts and complemented his efforts with a 3.43 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 over 186 1/3 innings for the 2017 Cardinals. He lost several days with a blister on his pitching hand in early September, but managed to avoid any major injuries and can reasonably be expected to shoulder another heavy workload in 2018.
Lynn may not be the Orioles’ first choice to beef up their starting rotation, but there’s no doubt that he’ll be in high demand as one of very few viable starters on the market this winter. The veteran righty rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals on Thursday and will likely be seeking a multi-year contract, one that Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch estimates around five years and $100+ million. If the Orioles are willing to bite that bullet, they’ll still need to compensate the Cardinals with their third pick in next year’s draft.