After missing out on A.J. Burnett the Orioles “remain interested” in first baseman/designated hitter Kendrys Morales and “continue to be in contact with his reps,” according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun.
Baltimore has collected some designated hitter options like Nolan Reimold, Delmon Young, and Henry Urrutia, but the Orioles could definitely find room in the lineup for Morales as long as they don’t mind parting with a draft pick to sign him.
Last season the switch-hitter batted .277 with 23 homers and a .785 OPS in 156 games for the Mariners and Morales had similar overall numbers for the Angels in 2012.
The Orioles have signed outfielder Quintin Berry to a Minor League deal with an invitation to spring training, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN. If his performance merits it, Berry could land a job on the Orioles’ bench, adding some much-needed speed. Nate McLouth, who stole 30 bases in 2013 for the O’s, signed with the Nationals. Center fielder Adam Jones was second on the team with 14 steals.
Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette likes Berry for a lot of reasons, saying, “He’s a good outfielder, an outstanding basestealer and he’s shown good on-base capability, particularly against right-handed pitching.”
Berry spent the 2013 season with three different clubs, starting with the Tigers, then the Royals, and ultimately ending up with the Red Sox. Overall, in 381 plate appearances at Triple-A, he posted a paltry .566 OPS but he did steal 30 bases in 34 attempts. He only had nine plate appearances in the Majors with the Red Sox, but he proved useful in the post-season, stealing three bases in as many attempts.
Britt Ghiroli suggests that Berry’s competition includes David Lough, Francisco Peguero, and Henry Urrutia.
The Orioles retained outfielder Nate McLouth on a one-year deal following an unexpected strong finish last season and now they’d like to bring him back for 2014.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are interested in re-signing McLouth and have talked with his representatives since the free-agent signing period began. However, the thought is that they’ll likely have to give him a multi-year deal this time around, especially after David DeJesus and Marlon Byrd each got two year deals in recent days.
McLouth, who turned 32 last month, batted .258/.329/.399 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI this season while going 30-for-37 in stolen base attempts. His production dropped off considerably during the second half and he did very little damage against southpaws, but the door for a return is open in part because prospect Henry Urrutia might not be ready for a full-time gig in left field to begin 2014.
Henry Urrutia is back from the restricted list after not being allowed into Canada due to visa issues and to make room for his return to the roster the Orioles designated Wilson Betemit for assignment.
Betemit missed the first four-plus months of the season recovering from a spring training knee injury and struggled to find at-bats after returning, as manager Buck Showalter stuck with Danny Valencia as the primary designated hitter.
Betemit ended up going 0-for-10 and he’ll hit the open market as a 32-year-old free agent following what was essentially a lost season.
Henry Urrutia didn’t travel with the Orioles for their road trip to Toronto that begins tonight because the Cuban defector can’t get into Canada due to immigration issues.
Instead he’ll head to Florida to work out at the Orioles’ spring training complex and Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com reports that the team may decide to simply shut him down for the season. “I alerted him to the fact that it could go either way so he didn’t take three changes of clothes down there,” manager Buck Showalter told Dubroff.
Urrutia initially got a July call-up after hitting .365 at Triple-A, but struggled and was sent back to the minors. He returned when rosters expanded on September 1, but has started just once since then as Showalter has gone with veterans Danny Valencia and Wilson Betemit in the designated hitter spot.