xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement

While outlining plan to add lefty hitting, O's GM Duquette calls for improvement from Davis

Outside of the Orioles’ obvious need to acquire starting pitching this offseason, their other stated goal is to add left-handed hitting to a predominantly right-handed lineup.

However, when asked on the club's Hot Stove Show on 105.7 The Fan on Thursday where such a bat would fit in the lineup, executive vice president Dan Duquette veered off into a challenge for the club's main returning left-handed batter and highest-paid player, first baseman Chris Davis.

Advertisement

"I think we have an opportunity at the DH position," Duquette said. "We're going to need Chris Davis to step up and do what we asked him to do when he signed the contract. There's no question about that, because his left-handed bat balances out our lineup and he's going to have to come back and perform at the level that he did in prior years. Not last year. Last year, he didn't have a very good year. We're going to need him. And I think there's some opportunity in the outfield for a left-handed hitter, and also at DH."

Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said Thursday on the team's offseason radio show that they'll remake the rotation to contend, not rebuild, in 2018, and addressed the futures of Manny Machado, Zach Britton, and Jonathan Schoop with the ballclub.

Davis, who signed a seven-year, $161 million contract in January 2016, has in the two seasons since hit .218 while striking out 34.8 percent of the time and been worth a combined three wins above replacement (WAR), according to FanGraphs. In 2016, he hit 38 home runs while playing strong defense at first base, but in 2017, Davis hit just 26 in 128 games while batting .215.

Advertisement

He's also the club's lone left-handed hitter in the middle of the lineup. In years past, they've gotten production from that side of the plate from Pedro Álvarez, Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim. But Davis is the only constant, and while the team posted a .745 OPS against right-handed pitching last season, and many of their right-handed bats handle same-side arms well, the area is a clear need in 2018.

Duquette's assertion that a left-handed hitter could get at-bats in the outfield and at designated hitter creates a variety of scenarios. While there's likely no unseating left fielder Trey Mancini and center fielder Adam Jones, right field is up for grabs. Duquette talked up the prospect of rookie Austin Hays playing a role next year, but also left open that Hays could require more time in the minor leagues before becoming the regular right fielder.

Under this type of scenario, Mark Trumbo could return to the role he filled in 2016. Against right-handed pitching, a left-handed batter would serve as the designated hitter with Trumbo in right field; against left-handed pitching, Trumbo would move to DH and another right-handed hitter, such as Hays, would play right.

The team made a minor move to add left-handed-hitting outfielder Jaycob Brugman from the Oakland Athletics last week, but there's likely another move or two pending. What won't require any kind of hot stove stoking, however, is an improvement from Davis — which Duquette went out of his way to call for in his first public appearance of the offseason.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement