Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette on Thursday lauded this week's trade for outfielder Travis Snider, saying the former first-round draft pick "looks to me like he's just coming into his own."
"Second half of the season last year, he put together a terrific campaign," Duquette said before the Aberdeen IronBirds Hot Stove Dinner. "Ended up hitting well, getting on base, slugged over .500 and hit nine home runs over the second half of the season. He's got excellent pull power, which should play very well in Camden Yards."
Snider batted .288 with a .356 on-base percentage and .524 slugging percentage in 60 second-half games last season, hitting 13 doubles, nine home runs and compiling 24 RBIs. He hit .237/.318/.342 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 80 games in the first half.
Duquette said he believes Snider, who was acquired from the Pirates on Tuesday in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Stephen Tarpley and a player to be named later, can also take advantage of Camden Yards' favorable power alleys and could be an everyday player for the first time in his big league career.
"He's got the kind of power to hit the ball out of the left-center field part of our ballpark," Duquette said. "If he hits one or two balls out there, he should be on track. He should do pretty well. He's a good defensive player. I like him. He's going to help our team. He's got a good work ethic. … And although he hasn't been given, to date, the chance to hit against left-handers in the big leagues, when he was given a chance last year he hit very well, and he's hit well against lefties in the minors. He could very well develop into an everyday ballplayer."
Snider is a career .249/.299/.399 hitter against left-handed pitching over, but was 16-for-42 against lefties (a .381/.435/.619 line) last season.
Even though Snider, who was the No. 6 prospect in the game going into the 2009 season, owns a .310 career on-base percentage in the majors, Duquette said he believes Snider is starting to become a more patient and disciplined hitter.
"You know the other thing that Snider does for us is he gives us a little more depth to our lineup," he said. "If you look at his record, the number of pitches that he sees, he'll be our most selective hitter. And toward the end of last year, he lowered his strikeouts and increased his walks, which leads me to believe he's really on his way to being a good major league hitter
"So, he gives us a little bit more depth. We were trying to replace the on-base capability that [Nick] Markakis gave us and Snider will help us do that, but he also has power and he's also a good defender. So, if you take a look at what he did last year in 300 at-bats, he should be able to make a good contribution to our ballclub here."
Duquette confirmed that the Orioles had discussed a deal for Snider with the Pirates during last month's winter meetings. Pittsburgh was looking for an everyday player in exchange at that time, but once they signed South Korean infielder Jung-ho Kang, making a trade for Snider became more possible.
"I had stayed in touch with [Pirates GM] Neal [Huntington] because we were still looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, so we continued our persistence and Neal made him available," Duquette said. "We did have some discussions at the Winter Meetings and we weren't able to get a deal done. I like his age, I like the way he profiles in our ballpark, I like the way he plays defense and I like his over-the-fence power."
Despite the losses of Markakis and the majors' home run leader, Nelson Cruz, Duquette said he likes his outfield options going into spring training.
"We signed Delmon Young so we have a potential DH there, and depending on how the team is structured he could see some more at-bats," Duquette said. "And we have [Alejandro] De Aza also, and [David] Lough, so that gives us plenty of people to replace Markakis. The at-bats that Cruz gave us … he gave us 40 home runs and we're not going to replace him with 40 home runs, but we've got enough power on our ballclub to still hit a lot of home runs."
Other items of note:
-- With Snider in the fold to fill the left-handed hitting outfielder spot the Orioles were searching to fill, Duquette said he'd like to add some bullpen depth before the team reports for spring training next month, preferably a right-handed reliever.
"So, we're looking around for that," Duquette said. "There's a couple [out there]. … We've got a couple left-handers. We signed [Wesley] Wright, we have [Brian] Matusz, we have [T.J.] McFarland. We have a couple other guys in the mix."
-- Duquette said the club has offered Nolan Reimold a contract, but said other teams were also interested in the former Orioles outfielder. Reimold was designated for assignment by the Orioles last July and played briefly with the Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks before becoming a free agent at the end of last season.
-- At Thursday's Aberdeen event, it was announced that Luis Pujols will manage the short-season single-A IronBirds this season. Pujols served as the manager at high Class-A Frederick in 2014 and low Class-A Delmarva in 2013.
-- The IronBirds are planning a second Hot Stove Dinner on March 23 at Ripken Stadium that will feature Cal Ripken Jr. and Bill Ripken. Tickets will go on sale to the general public on Feb. 9 and will start at $70 each.