The Orioles still have yet to fill their top offseason priority, acquiring a left-handed hitting outfielder, but executive vice president Dan Duquette believes that former first-round pick Chris Parmelee can help fill that hole.
The club signed Parmelee to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training, the club announced Monday. The team also announced the signing of right-handed pitcher Dane De La Rosa and confirmed the signing of right-hander Steve Johnson, both to minor league contracts with major league camp invitations.
"They're all very capable to [make] and they all [have] made contributions at the big league level," said Duquette, who once again declined to comment on the situation between him and the Toronto Blue Jays president and chief executive officer position.
Parmelee, a 2006 first-round pick of the Twins who was also one of the club's top prospects, struggled to live up to expectations in Minnesota. Despite a career .295/.395/.530 hitting line in Triple-A Rochester, Parmelee has a .249/.317/.392 line in parts of four big league seasons.
But Duquette said Parmelee is still only 26 years old -- he turns 27 on Feb. 24 -- and offers defensive flexibility because he can play both first base and outfield. The Orioles have been interested in Parmelee since he was designated for assignment by the Twins last month. He does fit the mold of the classic Duquette reclamation project, a former first-round selection with strong minor league numbers and is still in his mid 20s.
"Sometimes players just need a little more time," Duquette said. "He's still only 26."
Asked if the Orioles are still looking for a left-handed outfielder, Duquette said: "We're still working on that. Parmelee is an option for that job. We'll see."
The left-handed-hitting Parmelee has dramatic reverse splits, batting .261 against left-handed pitching compared to .245 against right-handed pitching over his major league career. Last season, Parmelee hit .325 against lefties and just .225 against right-handers.
De La Rosa, who will turn 32 on Sunday, was 6-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 72 1/3 relief innings for the Los Angeles Angels in 2013, but he is coming off an injury plagued season last year. He opened the 2014 season on the disabled list with right forearm inflammation, then upon his return, was shelved for nearly two months with right shoulder inflammation.
De La Rosa's season ended with surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee in September, but Duquette said he is expected to be fully recovered by the beginning of spring training.
Johnson, the Baltimore-area native and St. Paul's graduate, agreed to terms on a minor league deal last week. Injuries have prevented the 27-year-old from recapturing his form of 2012, when he was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA with the Orioles, winning his first three big league starts.
Johnson, who was 0-2 with a 7.11 ERA in 13 starts at Triple-A Norfolk last season, is coming back from surgery to remove bone spurs from the back of his right shoulder.
Duquette said Johnson might not be ready in time for the beginning of spring training, but his rehab is going well.
"Steve might take a little bit longer, but the reports we are getting say that he's making good progress," Duquette said. "He should be ready at some point in spring training."