The Orioles have had talks with the San Diego Padres regarding their outfield depth and are expected to continue to touch base with them, according to industry sources.
The Padres already had eight outfielders on their 40-man roster before factoring in the recently acquired Wil Myers and Matt Kemp (and now, reportedly, Justin Upton).
The Orioles have a surplus of arms. Lefty reliever Brian Matusz, who played at the University of San Diego, might be a trade chip.
We already knew the Orioles showed some interest in Smith, a 32-year-old left-handed hitter who is probably best served hitting primarily against right-handed pitching (all 12 of his homers last year came against righties).
I asked one source about Smith, who spent most of his career with the Colorado Rockies, and was told that there is still “some tire-kicking” going on there with the Orioles. But I get the sense that he’s not their lone target in the Padres’ outfield.
Some in the organization might be more intrigued by lefty-hitting Venable, who is coming off a rough season (.224 average, .288 on-base percentage) but hit .268 with 22 homers and 22 stolen bases in 2013.
The Orioles’ connection to Venable, now 32, goes back to 2004, when they drafted him in the 15th round out of Princeton. He didn’t sign, entered the draft the next year and went in the seventh round to the Padres.
Venable can play all three outfield positions and has hit in the leadoff spot than any other slot – and the Orioles don’t have an obvious replacement for Nick Markakis atop the order.
That said, Venable is not an on-base-percentage guy – something the Orioles sorely need. His career OBP is .316.
The 41-year-old can still run, get his slap hits and play some outfield. You can throw his name onto the heap with the others.
If he is still around in a month and is looking for a reasonable one-year deal, the Orioles' interest level could increase. Right now, the sense is they are more likely to trade for an outfielder than buy one.
** The Orioles will interview Texas Rangers minor league hitting instructor Scott Coolbaugh for their hitting coach opening – and it's likely he’ll be the final candidate.
The Orioles seem content with their choices, and want to make a decision soon.
Coolbaugh is intriguing for several reasons, including his history working with Chris Davis. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that how Davis performs in 2015 will have a profound effect on how the Orioles play.