Baltimore Orioles' Best Options to Plug the Hole at Second Base
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The Baltimore Orioles have struggled offensively at second base since Brian Roberts' injury, causing some to entertain ideas of who else could fill the position. As it stands, veterans Ryan Flaherty and Alexi Casilla have taken turns playing second during Roberts' absence.
Neither has done an impressive job.
On the season, Casilla and Flaherty have hit for a combined average of .158 with two home runs and six RBI, with Flaherty having both homers and all the RBI. While it seems unlikely that Baltimore would make an attempt to replace Casilla or Flaherty at this point, it's still a thought worth entertaining.
What are some options the Orioles could turn to in order to fix their problem at second base?
Call Up Jonathan Schoop
This idea seems like a far shot as long as Casilla and Flaherty are both healthy and on the roster. But Jonathan Schoop is regarded as the best position player in the Orioles' farm system as it currently sits.
Schoop is listed as a third baseman on the Norfolk Tides' roster, but he has split time playing both shortstop and second base for the Tide this season. In 17 games at second base, Schoop has yet to commit an error, but has committed five errors in the 17 games he's spent at shortstop.
Offensively Schoop has not been great, but the fact that he has been better than Casilla and Flaherty is what's important. Schoop is hitting .268 for the Tide right now, with a .331 on-base percentage, and has driven in 18 runs on the season. No, Schoop likely wouldn't tear the cover off the ball should he actually be called up, but it doesn't take very impressive numbers to be an improvement for Baltimore's second basemen.
Free Agent Signing
Baltimore isn't a team that generally pursues many free agents, and I can't recall the last time they signed a player in the middle of the season to address a need. While there are only a few free agent second basemen on the market, and most are aging veterans, a signing could make for an intriguing move.
Any free agent second baseman worth considering is in the twilight of their careers, but that doesn't mean they couldn't step in for a few weeks or months while Roberts is out. One of the most attractive free agent second basemen on the market is veteran Ryan Theriot.
Theriot is 33 years old, but has been a solid second baseman since 2006. He is a lifetime .281 hitter, and hit .270 last season for the San Francisco Giants. He played in 104 games last season for the Giants, and has shown great durability. Throughout his career, Theriot has played in 132 games or more five times.
Theriot seems to be indifferent over whether or not he returns to baseball. In a way, he seems to be enjoying retirement, but could be open to a return to the field should the right offer from a contender come his way.
Trade for a Temporary Fix
If the Orioles were to acquire a second baseman either through free agency or trade, there is no doubt the player would be only a temporary fix with Schoop on the rise. That being said, it is not uncommon to see a team trade for a temporary fix in order to boost their roster for a playoff push. Baltimore did it last year when it traded for veteran Jim Thome, indicating that if the right offer were available, they could make yet another trade come midseason.
Brian Roberts is supposedly looking to return in about six weeks, but given his recent injury history, there is plenty of reason to doubt that he could make a return, or stay healthy. Making a trade for a second baseman would make a lot of sense for the Orioles.
If Baltimore does trade for a second baseman, expect it to be an established veteran who is going to be a free agent at the end of the season. There are always teams looking to deal with veteran players when their playoff chances appear to have faded. If the Orioles are still in contention by the trade deadline and Roberts is still out, the possibility of them trading for a second baseman could be very high.
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