Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The Orioles will enter next season without true intentions of competing for an American League East title. Baltimore, fully immersed in a rebuild, has its eyes set on the long-term future.
Because of this, the Orioles will not break the bank this offseason. There’s no point. Instead, the club will provide its young players an opportunity to succeed. Baltimore may be hard pressed to find free agent pitching for the right price, and it’s not clear who will handle middle-infield duties for the Birds. Still, one thing appears to be certain. The Orioles will bank on a young outfield prospect to handle center field next season.
The current depth chart on the Orioles official website lists Austin Hays as the club’s starting center fielder. Hays, the Orioles third-round pick in 2016, appeared in 21 games for Baltimore last season. Hays slashed .309/.373/.574 during his brief stint with the big club.
The Orioles did not immediately promote Hays once rosters expanded on September 1, and the Daytona Beach, Florida, native nearly missed out on his cup of coffee last season. Baltimore fully intended to send Hays to the Arizona Fall…