The Orioles have acquired infielder Nick Maton from the Tigers for cash considerations, both teams announced. Detroit had designated him for assignment on Monday when they claimed reliever Kolton Ingram from the Angels. The O’s now have 39 players on the 40-man roster.
It’s the second time in recent weeks that the O’s swung a trade for an infielder squeezed off the roster in Detroit. Baltimore brought back Tyler Nevin in a January cash transaction after his DFA as well. They’ll again send some money to the Tigers to jump the waiver order and add to their infield depth.
Maton, who turns 27 later this month, had a disappointing year in Detroit. The Tigers acquired him from the Phillies among a three-player return for hard-throwing reliever Gregory Soto last offseason. Maton got a decent amount of early-season run but struggled on both sides of the ball. He hit .173/.288/.305 with eight home runs through a career-high 293 plate appearances. He also had a handful of costly defensive miscues and rated as a below-average defender at both second and third base.
Despite the sub-replacement level production, it’s unsurprising that someone was willing to take a flier on Maton. He responded well to a midseason optional assignment to Triple-A, hitting .293/.414/.457 over 38 minor league contests. Maton has demonstrated a very patient offensive approach throughout his career. He took free passes at a 15.4% rate in Triple-A and walked in 13% of his MLB plate appearances with Detroit.
Baltimore already has a strong collection of infield talent. Nevin and Maton join Gunnar Henderson, Ryan O’Hearn, Jordan Westburg, Ryan Mountcastle, Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías on the 40-man roster. Baltimore shipped out Joey Ortiz in the Corbin Burnes trade but is expected to add Jackson Holliday to the MLB team early in the year, perhaps on Opening Day.
GM Mike Elias nevertheless told 105.7 The Fan yesterday (X link) that the front office felt there was room for a left-handed hitter who could factor in at second base. Westburg, a righty bat, is the projected starter. Adam Frazier, who worked as a lefty-swinging second baseman a year ago, departed in free agency.
Maton hits from the left side, so he could battle for that job in Spring Training. Like Nevin, he is out of minor league option years. Baltimore can’t send him to Triple-A without first trying to run him through waivers. There’s no guarantee he makes the team — it’s hard to envision both Nevin and Maton cracking the Opening Day roster — but there’s also little harm for the O’s in leveraging their vacancies at the back of the 40-man to add competition in Spring Training.