The Orioles are in agreement with free agent second baseman Shed Long on a minor league contract, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (Twitter link). Long was outrighted off the Mariners’ 40-man roster and elected minor league free agency at the end of the season, making him eligible to sign a non-roster deal during the lockout.
Long was a well-regarded prospect coming up in the Reds’ farm system. A left-handed power bat, he posted above-average offensive numbers up through Double-A. Most evaluators were never enamored with his defensive ability, but he looked like a possible bat-first regular at the keystone. The Mariners acquired Long over the 2019-20 offseason as part of the three-team trade that sent Sonny Gray from the Yankees to Cincinnati.
The following season, Long had a fairly promising debut showing. He hit .263/.333/.454 over his first 168 MLB plate appearances, albeit with unimpressive defensive marks and batted ball metrics. That was enough for Long to open the 2020 campaign as Seattle’s starting second baseman, but his past two seasons have been plagued by injury. He played for much of that season with a stress fracture in his right shin, eventually undergoing surgery in September.
Unfortunately, the procedure didn’t work as planned. Long continued to experience inflammation in the area in 2021, delaying his season debut until early June. He played for a bit more than a month, struggling to post serviceable numbers, before winding up back on the injured list in early August. Long spent the reason of last season on the shelf, and Seattle cut him loose at the end of the year.
Altogether, he owns just a .216/.284/.376 line over 417 MLB plate appearances. It seems fair to assume he hasn’t been completely healthy in either of the past two seasons, though, making this a reasonable flier for the O’s to take. Long is still just 26 years old, and he can be controlled for four seasons if he earns a spot on the roster and finds his stride at the plate.
There should be plenty of opportunity for him to do just that if he shows well in Spring Training. Rougned Odor is currently pencilled in as the second baseman in Baltimore. He’s coming off a third straight well below-average showing, so the O’s probably aren’t wedded to Odor playing on an everyday basis. Long also has some experience in left field and could compete for a spot as a multi-positional bench bat, although it seems unlikely he’d take much playing time from Austin Hays in the grass.