Orioles baseball writers Eduardo A. Encina and Jon Meoli talk about how the Orioles are focused on slugger Mark Trumbo heading into this week's baseball winter meetings.
Even as the Orioles continue their pursuit of Mark Trumbo, last season's everyday right fielder, their intention at this week's winter meetings — and indeed throughout the offseason — is to improve their outfield defense.
"That's one of our offseason projects," executive vice president Dan Duquette said. "We think we can do that in a couple of ways."
While bringing Trumbo back would improve the Orioles offense, a defensive upgrade would come from an entirely different set of players.
Not all would be splashy signings, but there are only a handful of those types of players on the market. Because defensive metrics can be volatile from year to year, here are the top available defensive outfielders according to UZR/150, a rate statistic that credits or debits runs to a defender for whether he makes a play on a batted ball based on the ball's expected outcome.
All stats are courtesy of FanGraphs, and measure the past three seasons for players with at least 1,500 innings in the outfield.
A late-season addition to the World Series champion Chicago Cubs, Coghlan was brought in for his defense and did his part admirably. He hit .252 with a .779 OPS after his trade from the Oakland Athletics, and played well at both corner outfield spots in Chicago. His on-base ability also would be an asset to the Orioles, and at age 31, he likely won't require a long-term commitment.
A veritable star two seasons ago, Gomez was designated for assignment by the Houston Astros last season but caught on with the Texas Rangers and had a strong second half. Gomez can play all three outfield positions capably, and if he's anything close to the All-Star he was in 2013 and 2014, he'll be an asset. That might price him out of the Orioles' range, though.
Bourjos, a career .243 hitter, isn't the stolen-base threat he once was, but he's certainly a capable defender. He played primarily right field for the Philadelphia Phillies last season but had been a center fielder for his entire career before that. He took well to right field, though his range seems more valuable in center field.
Brandon Moss (29th overall, 5.1 UZR/150)
Moss has fallen off a little offensively since his All-Star season in 2014, but he's still a perennial 20-home run bat who can play both corner outfield spots and might be available for less than some of the other sluggers on the market this offseason.
The erratic Rasmus is another player with power that will tantalize the Orioles. He's a former first-round draft pick to boot, but isn't entering free agency with much momentum. There's plenty of value there defensively, though, and if he gets comfortable at Camden Yards, he could hit a bit as well.