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Orioles news and notes on Jonny Gomes, Nate McLouth, DeMarlo Hale

Baltimore OriolesJonny GomesBaseballNate McLouthBoston Red SoxCincinnati Reds

Several media outlets, led by the Boston Herald, reported Wednesday that the Boston Red Sox have a two-year deal in place for right-handed slugger Jonny Gomes.

Gomes, 31, hit .262 with 18 homers, a .377 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage in 99 games for the Oakland A’s last season. A designated hitter and outfielder who demolishes left-handed pitching, he looked like he’d be a good fit for the Orioles’ vacant DH/unclaimed left field spot.

And as Eduardo A. Encina reported last week, the Orioles had legitimate interest in Gomes, but only on a one-year deal. Considering Gomes had a down season in 2011 (.209 average and 14 combined homers in 120 games with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals) the Orioles didn’t want to be commit to a multi-year deal for someone who might end up as a platoon player (they did that last year with Wilson Betemit).

Makes plenty of sense, though part of Gomes’ value is his clubhouse presence. That might have been something the Orioles needed desperately last offseason, but the organization really likes the clubhouse chemistry now. That’s not to say Gomes couldn’t have fit in or made it better, but it’s probably fair to say that the Red Sox need that leadership a little more than the Orioles right now.

Will Gomes affect McLouth?

The Gomes signing may have more significance for the Orioles than just another free agent coming off the board, however. It could affect the market for free agent outfielder Nate McLouth, who spent the last two months of the season in Baltimore.

McLouth and Gomes are completely different types of players, but they are about the same age, play the same position and are probably in a similar financial range (although power hitters usually bring in more money than the speedy types). The teams that had interest in Gomes and didn’t get him could turn their attention to McLouth.

This is purely my speculation, but I think the Orioles preferred McLouth to Gomes simply because he was theirs and because he is a better defender. Both sides have expressed interest in McLouth staying with the Orioles, but the competition for his services may have heightened with Gomes off the board, especially because the Red Sox were looking more for a power addition than speed to their lineup and didn’t seem like a real player for McLouth.

Hale the only coach unsigned

The Orioles have agreed to a contract with hitting coach Jim Presley, guaranteeing that five of Buck Showalter’s six coaches from 2012 will return in 2013. The lone question now is third-base coach DeMarlo Hale, who has interviewed to be John Gibbons’ bench coach in Toronto.

There was one report out of Toronto speculating that the Orioles ultimately wouldn’t allow Hale to leave. Technically, they don’t have that power. The coaches’ contracts that expired in 2012 actually ran out at the end of October. Those guys essentially were free agents and were free to seek other employment.

Now, the Orioles do have some power. They could always match — or better — an offer if Toronto makes one to Hale. There’s a little more status in being a bench coach over coaching third base, but it’s not like Hale couldn’t make the transition to manager, his ultimate goal, from either spot. So it could come down to the almighty dollar. And, based on this offseason, we know the Blue Jays are solid in that department.

dan.connolly@baltsun.com
twitter.com/danconnollysun

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Baltimore OriolesJonny GomesBaseballNate McLouthBoston Red SoxCincinnati Reds
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