Baltimore Orioles Interested in Gonzalez, Aoki, Cabrera

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 26: Nolan Arenado
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 26: Nolan Arenado /

The Baltimore Orioles’ biggest need this offseason is upgrading their rotation, but they’re also in need of a left-handed outfielder, and a few on the market have intrigued them.

The Baltimore Orioles’ biggest need this offseason is upgrading their rotation, but the team is also in serious need of an outfielder, and preferably a left-handed hitting outfielder to balance out their lineup (currently the only lefties projected in their lineup are Chance Sisco and Chris Davis).

Back in October, we looked at 10 free agent left-handed outfielders the Baltimore Orioles could pursue, and according to the’s Dan Connolly, there are a few that have piqued their interest: Carlos Gonzalez, Nori Aoki, and Melky Cabrera (not to mention Jarrod Dyson).

Gonzalez had the worst year of his career last year, slashing .262/.339/.423 with 14 home runs, 72 runs, and 57 RBIs on a Colorado Rockies offense that seemed to really be clicking all year despite him. But he made some significant improvements, specifically in the way he was holding the bat.

He used to wrap his hands around the bat so that his palms were on the handle of the bat and his fingers were wrapped inwards, leading the barrel of the bat to drop more with a more undercut swing. You can see that here in this fly ball out:

In the first half of the season, holding his bat that way led to him slashing .221/.299/.338. But once he realized he was doing that, he fixed it and started loosening his grip, holding the bat more with his fingers than his palms, leading to a more level swing, as you can see here:

That adjustment was part of the reason Gonzalez slashed .314/.390/.531 in the second half of the year, and it’s a big reason why it’s not crazy to be optimistic about a bounceback season for him this year.

Aoki used to be a pretty solid leadoff hitter, he would get you a batting average in the high-.280s while stealing 20 bases. He’s 36 years old now, and that speed has faded a bit, but he’s still a solid hitter. Last year, he slashed .277/.335/.393 with five home runs, 48 runs, 35 RBIs and 10 steals.

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The Baltimore Orioles don’t necessarily need power, but what they do need is a guy who can get on base, and while Aoki’s walk rate is fairly average, he doesn’t strikeout much at all and still makes good contact while maintaining some decent speed. He’ll also likely be very cheap, something that could make him pretty attractive to the Orioles.

As for Cabrera, he’s typically been a player who does a lot of things well enough without excelling in one particular area. Last year, he slashed .285/.324/.423 with 17 home runs, 78 runs, and 85 RBIs.

On the plus side, he hasn’t hit below .273 since 2011 and he has good plate discipline, two things the Orioles really lack. He also has decent enough power so he doesn’t put too much of a drain on your lineup.

On the downside though, he’s a defensive liability. He finished last year with a defensive rating of -17.6, the worst of his career so far, as well as -20 defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating of -10.3. If you sign Melky, it’s for his offensive entirely.

Next: Orioles Interested in Outfielder Jarrod Dyson

Dan Duquette has said that he’s had extended conversations with a number of outfielders, and it’s getting increasingly likely that the Baltimore Orioles will be signing a new outfielder, we’ll just have to wait and see who it is.