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Orioles sign reigning independent-league MVP, bolstering organizational depth

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.

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