Orioles signing of Peguero ends interesting week

Orioles signing of Peguero ends interesting week
December 7, 2013, 10:45 am
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The Orioles prepared for the winter meetings by officially signing outfielder Francisco Peguero to a one-year contract on Saturday morning.

Peguero played in 25 games with the San Francisco Giants over the past two seasons and batted .200 with a home run.

“He’s an interesting kid,” Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said.

“There are not too many lifetime .300 hitters. He just needs an opportunity to play.”

The 25-year-old Peguero batted .306 in his eight seasons in the Giants organization, and can play all three outfield positions.

“He’s a good runner, he’s a good hitter and he’s a good fielder,” Duquette said. “He’s young, has good tools and just hasn’t had an extended opportunity.”

[RELATED: Orioles acquire Brach, Phelps to boost depth]

With the departure of Nate McLouth, Peguero joins Nolan Reimold, Steve Pearce and Henry Urrutia as candidates for left field. The Orioles will look for more at the winter meetings.

It wasn’t a shock that both McLouth and Scott Feldman left the Orioles to sign elsewhere. It was a shock that both left on the same day.

The Orioles were already looking for another starting pitcher and a left fielder. Now the search becomes more intense.

As baseball’s decision makers gather for the winter meetings in Orlando, the Orioles have a hefty shopping list.

It seems obvious that they’ll have to leave Disney with more than another Rule 5 draft pick.

Losing Feldman and McLouth, who were both clubhouse good guys, wasn’t entirely unexpected. The Orioles would have liked Feldman back, but not at three years and $30 million. The Houston Astros, who were badly in need of starting pitching, stepped out on Feldman.

McLouth’s loss is more expected. The Orioles valued him, but didn’t want to pay him the two years and $10 million outside observers predicted. In the end, McLouth got even more than that, two years at $10.75 million plus a three-year option.

That’s not bad for a player who was in Norfolk in the summer of 2012 and needed an endorsement from Tides manager Ron Johnson to get back to the big leagues.

McLouth provided needed spark for the Orioles in 2012, especially after Nick Markakis was injured, and had a nice start to 2013. Once the Orioles lost Reimold and had no other reliable left fielder, McLouth was forced to play against left-handers too often, and his stats dropped off.

He was also an honest go-to guy, who didn’t especially enjoy the cameras, but was a great quote in front of small groups.

McLouth also showed off speed, stealing 30 bases in 2013, most in the early months.

In the National League, where McLouth has played most of his career, he can be used as a fourth outfielder, pinch hitter and pinch runner for the Nationals.

He’ll get to face the Orioles four straight times in early July, and undoubtedly will receive a warm welcome when he returns to Baltimore.

Feldman was only around for three months, but he was a reliable innings eater. He threw the only nine-inning complete game of the year, and easily adapted to the team.

Manager Buck Showalter, who had him as a young pitcher in Texas, always liked him, and would have loved for him to stay.

Feldman said that perhaps 15 teams were interested in him, and in that mess, the Orioles didn’t have much of a chance, particularly when the Astros went the extra year.

It’s been a rocky week for the Orioles. They traded Jim Johnson just before the midnight deadline for tendering contracts, getting back only second baseman Jemile Weeks from Oakland. Weeks spent nearly all of 2013 in the minors, and it’s no sure thing he’ll start the season with the Orioles.

The Orioles are in the process of searching for Johnson’s replacement. On Friday, Jim Duquette, a former Orioles executive and cousin of Dan Duquette predicted the team would end up with a new closer from three candidates: Joaquin Benoit, Chris Perez and Fernando Rodney. That would help.

The Orioles signed right-hander Ryan Webb, who was nontendered by Miami earlier in the week. He hasn’t closed, but can provide depth for the sixth and seventh innings. Webb has impressed with his ability to avoid the home run.

With Webb, Josh Stinson, Darren O’Day, Tommy Hunter and perhaps a new top shelf closer, the bullpen could again be a strength.

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Brian Roberts re-sign as long as he’ll accept a cut from his $10 million annual take over the last four years to perhaps $3 million plus incentives.

The Miami Marlins and Toronto Blue Jays won the last two offseasons. It didn’t help them in the regular season. While the Orioles don’t have to win the offseason, it sure would help if they could avoid losing it.