The Orioles had interest in Donovan Solano earlier this offseason, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. The exact timing of the interest isn’t known, as since the O’s also signed Rougned Odor to a Major League contract just prior to the start of the lockout, Kubatko observes that Baltimore might have simply chosen Odor over the 34-year-old Solano to address its infield needs.
Then again, the argument can certainly be made that the Orioles might continue to have interest in Solano or other players, considering the many question marks around the infield. Odor is penciled into the regular second base role, though he could also see some time at third base along with Kelvin Gutierrez. Jahmai Jones and recent minor league signing Shed Long are also in the second base mix, plus the Orioles have several other prospects either competing for bench jobs, or are tentatively slated to receive big league promotions at some point in 2022.
With the O’s still rebuilding and the focus clearly on the younger members of the organization, Baltimore’s interest in veteran acquisitions has been limited to inexpensive short-term contracts. Odor, for instance, won’t actually cost the Orioles anything besides a minimum salary — the Rangers are still responsible for the rest of the $15MM ($12MM in 2022 salary, $3MM for the buyout of his 2023 option) owed to Odor, as per the terms of Texas’ original extension with the infielder back in March 2017.
The price tag might’ve been a bigger factor than the on-field performance for the Orioles, as since wins and losses aren’t important for a team not trying to contend, obtaining Odor for virtually nothing might be preferable to giving more significant guaranteed money to Solano on a one-year deal. While Odor has struggled badly for the better part of five seasons now, Solano is coming off three very solid years with the Giants.
One of the several unheralded pickups who blossomed in San Francisco, Solano hit .308/.354/.435 with 14 home runs over 775 plate appearances with the Giants from 2019-21, and won the 2020 Silver Slugger Award for NL second basemen. His production did drop in 2021, however, though a pair of trips to the injured list likely contributed to some diminished power. Still, Solano’s .280/.344/.404 slash line over 344 PA last year was still above average, as per OPS+ (103) and wRC+ (105).
Solano played mostly as a second baseman with the Giants, though he had a good chunk of playing time at shortstop in 2019 and a handful of games at third base. Assuming he is still on Baltimore’s radar, the Orioles could use Solano and Odor interchangeably at either second base or third base, or even in a platoon situation. (The right-handed hitting Solano did much of his damage against left-handed pitching over the last three years, though even his performance against righties has outperformed Odor’s recent hitting numbers.) The Orioles would then likely use Solano, Odor, or other short-term veterans as trade chips at the deadline, in order to clear room for any prospects who might get the call for some big-league seasoning.