Based on the strength of a .267/.326/.481 campaign with Boston, free agent Cody Ross is seeking a three-year deal worth at least $6 million and maybe as much as $8 million per season. Word is that the Orioles are one of the teams pursuing him.
They shouldn’t be.
In Nolan Reimold, the Orioles have a right-handed-hitting outfielder with a career line of .261/.338/.455 in 808 major league at-bats.
Ross, the older of the two by nearly three years, has a .262/.324/.460 line in 2,912 at-bats. And he’ll probably make at least five times as much as Reimold next year.
The only reason for the Orioles to consider Ross is if they don’t think Reimold can come back from last year’s neck surgery to fuse together two vertebrae. Reimold, though, has resumed working out and is expected to be ready to go in spring training. If Reimold is back at 100 percent, then Ross isn’t any kind of upgrade for Baltimore. He’d probably be a downgrade.
By signing Ross, the Orioles would simply be paying for certainty. And it’s not worth it, particularly not with a $20 million price tag. Ross isn’t any sort of star. He hammers left-handers, but he’ll probably revert to being below average against right-handers outside of Fenway Park next season (Ross hit .298/.356/.565 in Boston last season and .232/.294/.390 everywhere else). He’s a career .253/.312/.415 hitter against righties.
When it comes to left field, the Orioles either need to go big or stay home. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons of Josh Hamilton and maybe seeing if they have the right pieces to intrigue the Diamondbacks on a Justin Upton trade. But unless they can get a star, they should stick with Reimold and maybe re-sign Nate McLouth as a fallback. If that doesn’t work out, they can trade for another solution come June or July. But even in the worst case, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they’re going to be really disappointed about missing out on Cody Ross.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.