With the World Series ending early Monday morning, six Orioles are now free agents. The club has five days — until 11:59 p.m. Friday — to exclusively talk extensions before the players can begin negotiating with other teams.
Rarely do players sign during the exclusive period — since they are so close to testing the market and discovering what other teams think they are worth. Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette conceded this point recently, saying he expected all six to test the market.
Here's the fourth installment of a six-part look — in alphabetical order — at each Oriole free agent's prospects along with a prediction of the likelihood of their return (one being the lowest chance, 10 the highest).
Prospects heading into free agency: Solid, but should have been better. He was having a breakout offensive season with the Brewers, hitting .328 with a .369 on-base percentage and nine homers in 100 games before being dealt to the Orioles on July 31. The adjustment to the American League was a difficult one for the career National Leaguer. He hit just .237 with a .268 on-base percentage in 55 games with the Orioles, though he finished on a high note with eight hits in his final 13 at-bats of the year. He didn't look as sharp defensively as advertised, either. He occasionally made fundamental mistakes — such as throwing to the wrong base — that belied his status as a two-time Gold Glover.
Why he'll stay an Oriole: Throughout the first half of last season, the Orioles were searching for a good defensive outfielder with the ability to get on base and spark the top of the order. In essence, they were looking for someone to replace the free-agent loss of Nick Markakis. Scanning the available outfielders in July, Parra seemed like the best facsimile, and he was younger and potentially had more power than Markakis. He fit in seamlessly, and Orioles manager Buck Showalter applauded Parra's work ethic, personality and versatility. He can bat just about anywhere in a lineup, can drop a bunt and draw a walk, skills lacking on this roster. There's no one who immediately can replace Parra currently in the organization, so bringing him back on a solid, multi-year deal seems viable.
Why he'll leave the Orioles: If other teams gauge him more on his first half of the season than his second half. Frankly, he is probably somewhere in the middle — a .280s hitter who will get on base some, hit roughly 10 homers a season and play solid defense. He's obviously had more success in the National League, but his AL time was too much of a small sample size to say he can't thrive in the junior circuit. He is not an elite outfielder, but he is younger than most available in free agency and it's possible his first half could be the beginning of his peak years. So a four-year deal, perhaps similar to the $44 million Markakis received from the Atlanta Braves, is within reach. The Orioles seem willing to let the market develop on Parra, so if a club swoops in quickly with a solid deal, he could go elsewhere.
Best landing spot: Most teams could use him; contenders with deep pockets may view Parra as a platoon player (he's hit .289 in his career versus right-handers and .232 versus lefties). Mid-level clubs looking for steady defense in the corner outfield spots — the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, for instance — could fit.