The Baltimore Orioles struggled in multiple areas in 2013, and as we analyzed last month, one of those spots was left field offensive production. Nate McLouth was the primary option in left field for the Orioles in 2013, and is a free agent this winter, but what kind of contract could the speedster draw in this market?
MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes predicts that McLouth will get a two year deal worth $10 million. We fully respect Dierkes and his ability to predict the contracts that free agents could garner as he has a track record of success in that regard, but will McLouth really get an eight figure deal?
McLouth has had a career resurgence the past season and a half after basically being an afterthought when he hit rock bottom with the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates three seasons ago. Since joining the Orioles mid-season in 2012, McLouth hit .261 with 19 home runs, 54 RBI, 43 doubles and 42 stolen bases in 201 games with the Birds. In addition, and perhaps his biggest contribution to the team is that he has committed just five errors in the field.
In Dierkes' free agent profile of McLouth, he reports that Nate had a 2.4 Win Above Replacement in 2013, but his defensive and stolen base ability makes him very valuable. We saw him make several fantastic defensive plays in left field, but one thing that does hurt him is his arm as it is not good enough to play right field.
Baltimore fans fell in love with McLouth, labeling him the "base-burglar" and pushed for the Orioles to sign him to an extension during this summer when he was leading the AL in stolen bases and was handling the leadoff duties against right handed pitchers.
We have been fans of McLouth's as well and even wrote that Baltimore should have tried to sign him to an extension during the season as well, but perhaps Executive VP/GM Dan Duquette knew what Dierkes is suggesting; McLouth is going to get eight figures.
When the season completed, the Orioles did not have a clear cut option to replace McLouth in house, but due to his fine performance in the Arizona Fall League, Henry Urrutia would be the obvious front runner in house to replace him. Urrutia demonstrated some power and improved his defensive play and earned a nod in the league's Fall Stars Game.
Although his numbers, which we presented earlier, are not eye popping whatsoever, he has managed to stay healthy, hits right handers very well, and provides a good defensive outfielder that can also play center field with stolen base ability.
It may be hard to fathom that McLouth could garner a two year, $10 million deal, but Dierkes made some great comparisons as Johnny Gomes signed that same exact deal with the Red Sox last offseason, as well as David DeJesus did with the Cubs. McLouth's tools make him just as, if not more valuable than both of those players. Believe it or not, expect McLouth to sign for two years, $10 million this offseason and if that is the case, do not expect to see him in Baltimore in 2014. The Orioles only hope to resign him will be if he is so in love with Charm City that he wants to give Baltimore a discount to keep him here.
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