When the Orioles signed OF Delmon Young yesterday, they had also invited former Orioles OF Jack Cust to minor league camp. Cust is not yet under contract. At age 35 his best days are behind him and even in his prime he was a shaky fielder anywhere in the OF and at 1B. He is mostly known for being one of the purest 3 outcome hitters in the league while enjoying his best success with the A’s. Mashing prodigious home runs, walking, or striking out Cust’s only value was if he hit for power and kept getting on base. Cust’s career major league line is .242 .374 .439 and last played for Seattle in 2011 where he saw his power all but vanish. If he shows something in camp there is a good chance the Orioles give him a minor league contract and see what happens with him. If he can have a hot start he could wind up with the major league team since they will be looking for a power bat for DH and also like high OBP hitters.
Luis Vizcaino is also an older pitcher that saw his career come to an abrupt end with an Achilles tendon tear and then was hit with a PED suspension. Despite not pitching in the majors since 2009, he did make a comeback to baseball in the Mexican League and pitched a very effective 45 innings going 1-3 with a 1.41 ERA and notching 25 saves. He was inked to a minor league deal so I look for him to be in the minor leagues to start the season and if he’s got anything left we’ll see him on the major league roster.
And lastly the Orioles have signed switch hitting INF Brock Bond to a minor league deal. He is mainly a 2B defensively but has also seen quite a bit of time as a 3B. A minor league career .300 hitter he also has notched a .398 OBP. The drawbacks, that all comes with virtually no power and he isn’t blessed with a lot of speed. He suffered an oblique injury last season and never seemed to be right after that, so the Orioles are taking a low risk chance with him to get more quality depth in the system.
None of these moves are ones that will make headlines, but they are moves every major league team does. They identify their key needs, try to address those as best as possible, and then evaluate where they need more help. They take a look around and see if they can find any talent that might be able to help their club at some point. If they blow up and don’t pan out, they really didn’t cost you much. If they make it to the majors and contribute in any way, you look like a genius. I can envision a scenario where all of these players could help the major league club at some point. The Orioles have an opening at DH and LF, at 2B, and in the bullpen and starting rotation. None of the candidates for those positions have really locked them down so it is open for anyone to claim. Injuries can also be a factor. You just never know what can happen, so you prepare by adding as much quality depth as you can.