While the Baltimore Orioles were one of the more aggressive teams leading up to last month’s trade deadline, the team is still hoping to find an upgrade to their offense at the designated hitter position. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is hearing that the team plans on “making multiple waiver claims” in order to hopefully facilitate a deal before August ends. Roch Kubatko of MASN reports, however, that the team isn’t yet done evaluating their internal options with the hope of increasing the offensive output of the position. Kubatko specifically notes Wilson Betemit as an option, as the infielder is currently on a rehab assignment with Double-A Bowie.
As a team the Orioles are hitting .264/.314/.438 entering play Sunday. That’s the 7th best batting average, 16th best on base percentage, and tied for the best slugging percentage in all of baseball. The team leads in home runs with 163 (Toronto is second with 150) and they’ve scored the 4th highest total of runs in the Major Leagues. On paper, it wouldn’t appear as though the team needs a big offensive pickup. Baltimore sat 5.0 games back in the AL East and 2.5 games back for one of the AL Wild Card spots at the start of the day.
Betemit first joined the Orioles on a two year deal with a vesting option prior to the 2012 season. He hit .261/.322/.422 in 376 PA last year, but has missed the entirety of the 2013 season after undergoing surgery on his right knee late in Spring Training. Considering the missed time he’ll become a free agent at season’s end, as the option necessitated a total of 700 PA over the two years in order to vest. He’s reportedly been progressing as planned and has hit .368/.455/.421 in 44 PA during his rehab assignment. It’s unclear when he’ll rejoin the Orioles lineup, but Betemit could end up being the added bat that the team is hopeful for.
As for outside options, it’s tough to predict who might become available between now and the end of the month (the team could still make an addition in September, but that player won’t be eligible for the team’s playoff roster). Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins has long been suggested as a possible (and likely) target of the Orioles. The two were heavily linked leading up to the non-waiver deadline, but there never appeared to be a deal close. Morneau has already cleared waivers, but sources suggest that the team’s interest in Morneau is “lukewarm” at best and a deal does not appear likely.