The Orioles made their Wesley Wright signing official Friday, inking the 29-year-old left-handed reliever to a one-year, $1.7 million deal.
A veteran of seven major league seasons, Wright spent last year with the Chicago Cubs, going 0-3 with a 3.17 ERA in 58 appearances. Wright, who made $1.425 million last year, was not tendered a contract by the Cubs this offseason. He was primed for a raise in his final year of arbitration with the Cubs – and instead got a bit of a financial boost from the Orioles.
He has been particularly good against left-handed hitters in his career (a .238 opponents' average in 591 plate appearances), and he did not allow an extra-base hit to a lefty in 85 plate appearances last year. He has made 55 or more appearances in three consecutive seasons.
"Wright has been durable and effective the last few years, using his sinker to keep the ball in the park and consistently limit left-handed hitters," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said.
Wright's signing puts the Orioles' 40-man roster at 40. It also puts into question the future of left-hander Brian Matusz, who is set for another raise in arbitration above his $2.4 million salary in 2014. Although Wright and Matusz could co-exist in the bullpen, Matusz also is a solid trade chip that could land the Orioles an outfielder they desire.
The San Diego Padres continue to be an obvious trade partner for the Orioles. The Padres reportedly have agreed to a trade with the Atlanta Braves to acquire Justin Upton, the third highly touted outfielder that the Padres have acquired this week. They now have a surplus that includes left-handers Seth Smith and Will Venable, whom the Orioles initially drafted but couldn't sign as an amateur in 2004.
The Padres also have outfielders Cameron Maybin and Carlos Quentin, but Venable and Smith appear to be higher on the Orioles' wish list if a deal can be worked out.
One possibility would be sending Matusz to San Diego, where he attended the University of San Diego before the Orioles drafted him with the fourth overall pick in 2008.