Brian Roberts has spent nearly his entire career as a leadoff man, hitting there in 93 percent of his 1,200 starts, but the Orioles have decided to shift him to the bottom of the lineup as he comes back from multiple concussions.
Roberts took the demotion well, basically saying that he’s happy to simply be feeling healthy for the first time in years and understands at age 35 a less prominent role would probably make sense regardless of health.
Of course, if Roberts returns to anything resembling his old form–which included a .364 on-base percentage and 35 steals per 150 games from 2004-2010–the Orioles will want him back atop the lineup soon enough. For now though he’ll bat ninth for the first time since 2004.
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.