The Ex-Os Report: Looking at the 2017 Orioles that are elsewhere - or nowhere - this season - Page 8 of 9 -
Paul Folkemer

The Ex-Os Report: Looking at the 2017 Orioles that are elsewhere — or nowhere — this season

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The unsigned veterans

The slow-developing free agent market this past winter left three Orioles in a deep freeze, still unsigned — but not officially retired — as of this writing. One of those players was a widely popular Oriole for much of his tenure. Another was, well, the exact opposite of that.

The former is shortstop J.J. Hardy, who spent seven years in Baltimore and seems a shoo-in for the Orioles Hall of Fame. Hardy racked up three Gold Gloves, a Silver Slugger and an All-Star appearance during his stint with the club, locking down the shortstop position for three postseason clubs. His offense, though, fell off the table in his final years.

The last time Hardy was seen on a baseball field, he was “coaching” at the Brewers’ fantasy camp in January, along with retired former Brewers such as Prince Fielder, Corey Hart and Ben Sheets. Hardy insisted, though, that he hasn’t hung up his cleats just yet. He’s still working out at his home in Arizona in case the phone rings and the fit is particularly enticing.

An ex-Oriole not nearly as fondly remembered as Hardy is Ubaldo Jimenez, who hasn’t landed a job after his disastrous four-year, $50 million contract with the Orioles expired. During his Baltimore career from 2014-2017, Jimenez went 32-42 with a 5.22 ERA in 117 games. His final season was the worst. He led the majors in earned runs allowed (108) while posting a 6.81 ERA. It seems no team is willing to take a chance on the enigmatic Jimenez, even on a minor league deal.

The final unsigned Oriole is outfielder Seth Smith, which I find surprising. Smith had a perfectly fine season for the Orioles last year, delivering on his reputation as an on-base specialist by leading the team with a .340 OBP. He’s been a better than league-average hitter for nearly every season of his career, and while he’s not a defensive wizard, he’s not a butcher, either. You’d think his skill set would come in handy for some team in 2018 — including the Orioles, who haven’t yet found a right field solution this year.

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