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Does signing Jhonny Peralta, as a left fielder, make sense for Orioles?

The hot-stove Orioles rumor of the day involves the club being interested in signing free agent Jhonny Peralta to play left field, according to FOXSports.com.

First, let’s get out of the way why the Orioles would be intrigued by Peralta, normally a shortstop: he’s coming off a good year in which he set career highs in batting average (.303) and on-base percentage (.358) while recording a .457 slugging percentage and .815 OPS, despite a 50-game suspension as part of the Biogenesis scandal.

And last season, Peralta mashed left-handed pitching, hitting .352/.404/.560 in 136 plate appearances against southpaws. The Orioles could use another right-handed bat.

Now why Peralta, who will turn 32 in May, doesn’t make sense:

The Orioles have built their success on defense. Last season, the Orioles recorded a .991 fielding percentage, the best in major league history, and committed just 54 errors, the fewest in a 162-game season.   

Placing Peralta in left field would be an experiment, to say the least. He’s played only three regular-season games there, all of them when he returned from suspension at the end of the 2013 season. It was an experiment in Detroit, forced upon the Tigers when they needed to get Peralta’s bat in the lineup after trading for shortstop Jose Iglesias.

And he wouldn't be playing shortstop or third base in 2014, not with Gold Glovers J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado there, especially if Machado is ready for Opening Day. While he recorded a .991 fielding percentage in 103 starts at shortstop last year, he’s not known for his range, and advanced metrics -- minus-2 total zone runs and zero defensive runs saved in 2013 -- suggest he’s a subpar defender.

A transition to second base wouldn’t necessarily be difficult, but Peralta’s never played there in his major league career.

But here’s the main reason Peralta-to-the-Orioles makes no sense: the money. Despite his involvement in Biogenesis, Peralta is expected to get a nice payday. The two-year, $16 million contract handed out last season to the Toronto Blue Jays' Melky Cabrera shows deep-pocketed teams have short memories.

Peralta is far less valuable as a left fielder than he is a shortstop, but it’s not far-fetched to think that he could get at least two to three years worth $20 million to $30 million. One report Friday said thank he's seeking five to six years and $56 million to $76 million.

What could the Orioles do with that money? Well, they could likely sign Nate McLouth to a two-year deal and re-sign Brian Roberts to a one-year contract, filling holes in left field and second base, and still have money left to dabble with in the free-agent market for a pitcher.

The question is, does Peralta make you that much better, especially when your primary need is starting pitching?

I say no. This time of year, there are a lot of rumors thrown out there. But knowing the Orioles, and what kind of players they're looking for in the warehouse, this one made me immediately shake my head.

What’s your take? 

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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