Orioles have high hopes for outfielder Seth Smith as spring training approaches

When the Orioles get their first, long-term look at outfielder Seth Smith this offseason, they surely hope that the impression he made playing against them these past few years mirrors what they see in Florida and beyond.

The last time the team gathered as one, at last month's FanFest, Smith wasn't in attendance, but team brass and players alike heralded him as a difference maker in 2017.


"We picked up Seth Smith to fill a hole in right," executive vice president Dan Duquette said at FanFest. "He should be really additive against right-handed pitching in particular. He's a good RBI man, excellent teammate."

When Duquette and Mark Trumbo met ahead of the news conference to announce the slugger's new deal, Trumbo spoke highly of the player he shared a clubhouse with in Seattle in part of 2015.

"He's a great teammate," Trumbo said. "We had a great time in Seattle. I think he's going to be a really nice addition. He brings some of the skills that the team is looking for. He's obviously a veteran guy, and he's going to be a good influence on the younger guys. Him and I got along really well in Seattle, so that was a positive."

A career .261 hitter with a .791 OPS over 10 seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Oakland Athletics, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners, Smith was brought in to fill one of the Orioles' corner outfield needs, though his deficiencies hitting left-handed pitching means he might play only against right-handers.

Even in a division heavy on left-handed starters, the accepted wisdom is that Smith will get around 400 at-bats if he works as the big part of that platoon. His FanGraphs Steamer projection has him making 431 plate appearances, batting .261 with 15 home runs and a .795 OPS. That would be good for 1.2 Wins Above Replacement.

That's a fine output for a 34-year-old platoon outfielder, though he might not provide much defensive value over what they got at the position last year. And considering his possible platoon mate, Joey Rickard, had 131 weighted runs created plus (wRC+) against left-handers, according to FanGraphs, there could be a strong right field platoon in place, provided Hyun Soo Kim can handle left field on his own.

And even though the pitching staff was sad to see Yovani Gallardo go, they're glad to not have to see Smith in the opposing batter's box, at least this year.

"We got a great player for [Gallardo]," right-hander Keivin Gausman said. "I'm pretty happy I won't be facing him anymore. I think he hit two homers off me last year. I haven't seen him yet but I'm going to give him a big hug and tell him, 'Thanks for coming here, man.' "