With Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias asserting middle-infield depth and backend starting pitching as his team’s greatest needs this offseason, the club made a move to benefit the former Thursday.
Infielder Dilson Herrera has signed a minor league contract with Baltimore, the club announced. Herrera was ranked among Baseball America’s top 50 prospects after the 2014 season while a member of the New York Mets’ system, and although he hasn’t lived up to that billing, he’s only 25 years old.
Herrera last played in the majors in 2018 for the Cincinnati Reds, whom he joined as part of a trade package for outfielder Jay Bruce, and also had stints with New York in 2014-15. In his major league career, Herrera is a .203/.293/.394 hitter. He rejoined the Mets on a minor league deal for the 2019 season but didn’t reach the majors despite hitting 24 home runs with a .501 slugging percentage for New York’s Triple-A Syracuse affiliate in a year that was particularly offense-heavy in the highest rung of the minor leagues.
Although the Orioles’ greatest need on the infield is shortstop because of their trade of Jonathan Villar and the uncertainty of whether Richie Martin will open 2020 in the majors, Herrera likely won’t be a solution there. He played 26 games at shortstop as a minor leaguer in 2014 and none since, with the majority of his experience coming at second base, though he spent more time at both corner infield spots in 2019. He also saw time at the corner spots of the outfield.
Elias can be expected to continue culling the free-agent market for pieces like Herrera who will sign minor league deals and compete for jobs in spring training. Beyond Martin, the members of Baltimore’s 40-man roster with experience playing major league shortstop are Hanser Alberto, Stevie Wilkerson and Pat Valaika, though Valaika, a waiver claim from the Colorado Rockies, was the only one to play the position at any level in 2019.