Perhaps no one suffered more from the Orioles’ lack of depth than Nate McLouth.
McLouth played in 146 games and batted .258 as a left fielder. That wasn’t bad, but in the second half of the season, he hit just .233.
For much of the season the Orioles didn’t have a reliable right-handed hitter who could play left field. Nolan Reimold, who didn’t play in the second half of the season because of neck surgery, also missed six weeks in May and June because of a hamstring injury.
Without Reimold and Steve Pearce, who was also injured much of the season, the Orioles had no right-handed alternatives to the left-handed hitting McLouth.
And the more Buck Showalter played him, the worse he hit. Against left-handers, McLouth hit .209. Versus right-handers, .272.
As late as August 2, McLouth was hitting .287, and his prospects for a multi-year contract looked strong, perhaps with the Orioles.
MLBTraderrumors.com estimates that he’ll get a two-year, $10 million contract. Last year, he played under a one-year, $2 million contract.
Tampa Bay was interested in McLouth, and manager Buck Showalter convinced him to take the Orioles’ offer.
While Henry Urrutia is busy learning left field in the Instructional League and the Arizona Fall League, the Orioles hope they don’t have to rely on the Cuban defector there.
A healthy Reimold would be fine, but he hasn’t been healthy since 2011. He may have to take a minor league deal with the Orioles.
If the market isn’t as robust for McLouth as predicted, he may well return to the Orioles. If not, they may have to get inventive.