The Orioles lost a key player from the 2015 roster when the Toronto Blue Jays claimed Jimmy Paredes off waivers today.
Paredes, 27, had been on the disabled list since spring training due to a left wrist sprain, but the Orioles were forced to make a decision this week because his injury rehabilitation stint in the minors expired Sunday.
The Orioles were hoping he would clear waivers and accept an assignment to Triple-A Norfolk, where he would be added roster depth.
But that didn’t happen.
The problem is Paredes is a major league hitter. No doubt. That’s why six different organizations have taken a chance on him since 2010. He batted .279 for the Orioles in parts of two seasons. Last year he hit .275 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 104 games. The switch-hitter was leading the American League in hitting in late May.
The problem also is that Paredes is not a major-league fielder. He has no true position, and has bounced from third base to second base to the outfield in his career as teams try to find a place to put his bat. Because, like I said, the guy can hit.
He would be an ideal DH for the Orioles, but that spot is clogged. Pedro Alvarez is the primary DH, but it’s also a good place to put right fielder Mark Trumbo or catcher Matt Wieters when the two need a respite from playing in the field.
What the Orioles could have done was send Ryan Flaherty to Triple-A Norfolk to keep Paredes, since Flaherty has a minor-league option remaining. But Flaherty is playing a lot of third base with Manny Machado at shortstop while J.J. Hardy is on the disabled list.
An argument can be made that Paul Janish and Alvarez (and even Paredes) could fill in at third while Hardy is hurt and Flaherty is in the minors, but Orioles manager Buck Showalter puts a premium on defense.
And none of those guys, except for Janish, can play third like the light-hitting and versatile Flaherty. So that meant that Paredes is gone from the organization – and is now with the rival Jays, who have done this claiming from the Orioles thing before (for instance, they claimed Nolan Reimold in July 2014 and Todd Redmond in March 2013).
The other factor here is that the Orioles have Reimold and Hyun Soo Kim on the bench and neither can be sent to the minors to make room for Paredes.
The gamble here is that the Orioles felt they had enough offense and enough pinch-hit options to let Paredes go while keeping their current defensive alignment intact.
It’s probably not a huge risk, but certainly a decision that had to be weighed carefully.
“(The Orioles) tried, but we just didn’t find a fit for Paredes on this year’s team when it was time for him to be reinstated,” executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “Jimmy worked hard with us and we appreciated his contributions the past two seasons.”