The Colorado Rockies announced today that they had signed third baseman Joe Crede to a minor league contract.
Crede, a former All-Star who didn't play at all in 2010 because of injury, is seemingly linked to the Orioles every offseason. Not this year, though.
With Josh Bell at Triple-A and Mark Reynolds manning third base in the big leagues, the Orioles didn't need to dance with Crede this winter.
But it did get me thinking: Who plays third base in 2011 when Reynolds needs a day off or if he is sidelined for a few games?
The Orioles really don't have another natural third baseman on the roster to spell Reynolds. Cesar Izturis is expected to be the club's utility infielder, so he'd probably be the first choice. But he's played just 47 games at third in 10 seasons, and he's not exactly a prototypical fit there.
Jake Fox has played 31 big league games at third, including four last year, and Robert Andino has played there nine times, including six in 2010. Both are considered roster bubble guys at this time.
Then there is Brendan Harris, who has played 120 big league games in his career at third base. He's a utility type that is comfortable on the hot corner. Harris, however, is not on the Orioles' 40-man roster and, at this point, is probably ticketed for Triple-A Norfolk.
There's always the possibility the Orioles sign a free-agent third baseman to a minor league deal with a spring training invite and see what happens. The best available is Jorge Cantu, who has put up some big numbers as a major league corner infielder in the past and should land a big league deal, though it is getting late in the offseason.
The rest of the available third base group includes Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Felipe Lopez and Andy LaRoche. Not a great list, but some interesting names.
Third base is definitely not a need like it was last season. And if Reynolds is out for any length of time, Bell probably would be promoted to fill that hole.
But good teams have solid contingency plans.
What's the best plan behind Reynolds at third?
O's re-sign Gabino
According to Baseball America, the Orioles have re-signed pitcher Armando Gabino to a minor league deal. He'll likely get an invite to big league spring training. Gabino appeared in five games last year for the Orioles, allowing seven earned runs in 4 2/3 innings (13.50 ERA). He was 7-0 with a 2.37 ERA at Norfolk.
Other minor signings
Here are some other players with Orioles ties who recently have signed elsewhere, according to Baseball America: infielder Freddie Bynum, a minor league deal with the St. Louis Cardinals; outfielder Lou Montanez, a minor-league deal with the Chicago Cubs; and catcher Robby Hammock, a minor league deal with Arizona. Bynum, who played for the Orioles in 2007 and 2008, was in Japan last season.
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