The Baltimore Orioles had two glaring weaknesses offensively this season at the second base and DH positions, and today we will take a look at second base. The long time Oriole Brian Roberts is a free agent this season, but should the Orioles bring him back?
Baltimore saw several guys get time at second base in 2013 in Roberts, Ryan Flaherty, Alexi Casilla, Jonathan Schoop and Yamaico Navarro, but their overall total production was mediocre at best. Orioles second basemen combined to hit .236 with 15 home runs, 63 RBI, and 22 doubles. The 22 doubles were the worst of any position for the Birds on the season.
When you break it down, there is no argument that Roberts was the most productive of the bunch as he hit .249 with eight home runs, 39 RBI, 12 doubles and 26 walks in 296 plate appearances this season. Flaherty was the closest to Roberts in terms of actual production hitting .224 with 10 homers, 27 RBI, 11 doubles and 19 walks in 271 plate appearances, but his 62 strikeouts are a major concern.
Schoop and Navarro looked ok in their limited number of at bats, but whether either one of them are ready to play in the big leagues defensively is still a question mark. The Orioles will likely buy out Casilla's team option for $200k rather than electing to keep him for $3 million in 2014.
Baltimore now has to make some decisions this offseason on what to do at the position. Everyone around the team tends to believe that Flaherty would benefit from getting consistent at bats, so the Orioles could elect to start him off in Norfolk next season, but his versatility as a defensive player is valuable and Manager Buck Showalter loves that about him.
Roberts is not likely to get a lot of interest from other teams as he has struggled to remain even close to healthy over the past four seasons and is now 36 years old. If Baltimore wants to bring him back, one would be led to believe that Roberts would like to stay and try to finish his career as an Oriole so the price tag should be fairly inexpensive. It's predicted that Roberts is likely to get a one year, incentive laden deal no matter where he signs, so that option is certainly there for the Orioles, especially if they want to buy some more time for Schoop to be able to grow and develop as an all around second baseman.
What about free agency? Legitimate question, but outside of Robinson Cano, who would be the surprise of the century if the Orioles somehow signed him, the second base market is pretty grim. Omar Infante is considered by many to be the next best second base free agent, but at age 32, he is likely looking for a multi year deal and with Schoop so close, Baltimore would likely not commit to another second baseman for more than one season.
We believe that Baltimore will resign Roberts to said one year, incentive laden deal as they would already have a backup plan in place with Flaherty and Roberts, when healthy did produce for the Orioles. Having a switch hitter is never a bad thing, and he was one of the few Orioles hitters that would take opposing pitchers deep into counts on a consistent basis. With an incentive laden contract, the Orioles would not be on the hook for a lot money by signing Roberts, and if he can remain healthy long enough to allow Schoop to iron out some of his flaws in Norfolk, that could be the best case scenario for the Birds.
What do you think? Should the Orioles bring Roberts back? If so what kind of deal should they give him? Let your voice be heard by posting a comment!
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