First baseman Travis Ishikawa, a big league veteran who was having a strong season at Triple-A Norfolk, filed his written request to exercise the “opt-out” clause in his minor league contract on Sunday morning, according to his representation.
If Ishikawa is not added to the Orioles’ 25-man roster in the next 48 hours – by Tuesday morning – he will be given his release and will become a free agent eligible to sign with any team.
He can still be traded during the 48-hour period, and the Orioles had been pursuing potential partners as the June 15 opt-out date loomed.
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Ishikawa, 29, was having a strong season at Norfolk, batting .316 with a .413 on-base percentage and .525 slugging percentage in 49 games. He had seven homers and 31 RBIs for the Tides and was named the Orioles’ organization’s minor league hitter of the month for May. He hasn’t played since Monday because of the contract situation.
A veteran of five major league seasons -- in which he hit .264 with the San Francisco Giants and Milwaukee Brewers and was known for his defensive ability -- Ishikawa was signed in the offseason as insurance in case Chris Davis struggled at first base and needed to return to designated hitter.
But Davis has excelled with the glove and bat while the Orioles have filled their designated hitter role with players such as Chris Dickerson, Steve Pearce, Danny Valencia and Nolan Reimold, while also using it to spell regulars.
Therefore, the left-handed hitting Ishikawa does not have an obvious spot on the 25-man roster and likely will be released if he can’t be dealt.
The Orioles encountered a similar dilemma last August when outfielder Nate McLouth exercised his opt-out clause in the minors. He was promoted and played a key role for the club in its pennant push.