This is the time in the offseason when clubs start supplementing their organizational depth by signing minor league free agents, and the Orioles began their stockpiling Tuesday by signing a reigning independent-league Most Valuable Player.
The team signed first baseman-outfielder Joe Maloney to a minor league contract, the club announced. Maloney, 27 — not to be confused with former Orioles farmhand Joe Mahoney — previously played in the Texas Rangers’ and Minnesota Twins’ minor league systems, reaching the Double-A level in 2016 with Minnesota.
Maloney spent this past season playing with the Rockland Boulders of the independent Can-Am League, winning league MVP honors after posting a .997 OPS and hitting a league-record 35 homers and 101 RBIs in 99 games.
Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said in a text message that Maloney “is versatile defensively and can hit, especially [against left-handed pitching].”
Maloney likely will open next season at Double-A Bowie.
Under Duquette, the Orioles have signed several players out of independent leagues, most notably outfielder Lew Ford from the Atlantic League’s Long Island Ducks in 2012. Ford became a contributor on the Orioles’ playoff team that season. Still, success stories out of the independent leagues are few and far between.