The Orioles have acquired first baseman/outfielder Efren Navarro from the Angels in exchange for cash considerations, the teams announced today. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Navarro, Baltimore announced that it has designated outfielder L.J. Hoes for assignment.
Navarro, 29, was designated for assignment last week to clear a roster spot in Anaheim for right-hander Al Alburquerque, who signed as a free agent. Navarro has seen Major League action with the Angels in four of the past five seasons, totaling a .246/.303/.324 batting line in 280 plate appearances. He’s hit just one home run in that time, though he’s shown a bit more pop in the minors, where he is a .316/.378/.449 hitter with 32 home runs in 2344 plate appearances at Triple-A. Navarro hasn’t hit much with the Angels, but he’s posted solid walk and strikeout rates (7.5 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively). He’s also graded out reasonably well in both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved at first base and in left field in his small samples of work at each position.
Navarro will, presumably, join the competition for corner outfield playing time in Baltimore. The Orioles currently have Hyun-Soo Kim as one option (in left field — they’re said not to like his arm in right), with Nolan Reimold, Mark Trumbo, Henry Urrutia, Dariel Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty among the other options that could conceivably see some time in right field. Trumbo, of course, is best suited for first base or DH work, but he does have considerable experience in the outfield. As a left-handed bat, Navarro could conceivably pair with Reimold to form a platoon, should not additional outside option be brought in by GM Dan Duquette and his staff. That looks like somewhat of an uninspiring group, on paper, but the Orioles took a piecemeal approach to their corner outfield situation last season, creating some precedent for such measures, and the team has spent heavily in other areas, perhaps limiting its offseason spending capacity.
Hoes has had good success at the upper levels of the minor leagues, including a .299/.388/.399 batting line in parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level. The 25-year-old was originally a third-round pick by Baltimore back in 2008, though the O’s traded him to Houston in the 2013 Bud Norris swap. Hoes was designated for assignment by Houston this offseason, though, and picked up in a trade similar to today’s transaction back in November. In spite of his solid on-base percentage and batting average in Triple-A, Hoes has batted just .237/.289/.329 in 337 Major League plate appearances.