Jul 31, 2015; Baltimore, MD, USA; Baltimore Orioles newly acquired outfielder Gerardo Parra (18) sits on the bench during the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Along with the disintegration of much of the starting rotation for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015 was the downward spiraling situation at the corner outfield positions. It was as if the Birds were cursed for not re-signing popular players Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis. The cumulative batting average for left fielders for the Orioles was .210 — 14th in the American League.
However, when one examines the numbers more closely, right field was a good bit better at .275 and fourth in the league. The player with the most games in right field turned out to be Gerardo Parra. He hit .272 in 43 games and 168 at-bats. Delmon Young was next at .270 in 40 games, while Chris Davis was out there for 30 games at .252. And even a couple of Orioles dropouts hit well when in that position — Alejandro De Aza at .357 and Travis Snider at .308.
The question is now what to do about right field for 2016, asking also if the O’s should re-sign Parra. An argument could be made in both directions, and of course, as always, it depends upon how many dollars are involved. His is a good clubhouse guy and has said he would like to stay.
Supporting the argument are the following considerations: He is a plus defender with two Gold Gloves, he has above-average speed, he recently hit .312 over 146 games in parts of two season with the Brewers, he is a .309 career hitter at Camden Yards, and he has some power in spite of his 5’11” frame — especially to the flag court.
Arguing against signing Parra as a major fixture for the Orioles: He only hit .237 since coming to Baltimore, he is a career .232 hitter against left-handed pitching, all of his success has been in the National League, and his power numbers are rather diminutive for the right field position (56 career homers in 3,633 plate appearances). While hitting .272 in right field for the O’s, in other positions and DH/PH he was 9-for-67 (.134).
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It would be a shame to have traded away Zach Davies to only get the mundane performance that the Orioles got from Parra in August and September. Davies had a 3-2 record and 3.71 ERA over six September starts for the Brewers.
Parra’s drop in performance in the final months of the season may diminish his value and make him more price friendly for the ever-frugal Orioles. He made $6.24 million in 2015. A two or three-year deal at an annual price about that, or even less, might be workable. It all depends upon many factors, including the possibility of re-signing Chris Davis, who can play right field. There is also the consideration of the progress of Dariel Alvarez and if he can be a legit candidate long-term. Perhaps if the Orioles sign Steve Pearce, Parra could platoon with him, in that Pearce’s best lifetime batting numbers (.266) are as a right fielder. But again, if Davis is not re-signed, the Orioles may need to look to spend more on a bigger bang for the buck from this position.
So should the Orioles do it? It is neither obvious that they should or should not — it all depends upon a variety of other moving parts.