Powered by the likes of Chris Davis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters, the Orioles lead the majors in home runs (177) and isolated power (.175). Baltimore added to its powerful bottom line by making a waiver trade with the Mariners for corner outfielder/first baseman Michael Morse, who slugged .516 from 2010-12 but who this season found Seattle’s Safeco Field as inhospitable as most righthanded power hitters do.
The Orioles parted with 23-year-old Triple-A center fielder Xavier Avery, who hit .259/.340/.345 with 29 extra-base hits and 29 steals in 120 games in the high minors this season. He reached the majors for 32 games in 2012 but wound up back in Double-A to begin 2013.
Avery (No. 7) becomes the fourth member of Baltimore’s preseason top 20 prospects list to be leveraged in a trade this summer, joining third baseman Nick Delmonico (No. 4), left fielder L.J. Hoes (No. 5) and lefthander Josh Hader (No. 19). In addition to Morse, the Orioles’ in-season acquisitions include righthanders Scott Feldman and Bud Norris and reliever Francisco Rodriguez.
Xavier Avery, cf
Age: 23 Bats: L
Career Transactions: Selected by Orioles in second round of 2008 draft; signed June 20, 2008
A lefthanded hitter and plus runner who can play a major league center field, Avery will carve out a career if he can get on base consistently. Given fringy power, though, his career might unfold as a fourth outfielder, though maybe a good one.
Michael Morse, rf/1b
Remaining Commitment: Prorated portion of $6.75 million salary for 2013, then eligible for free agency for the first time.
The Mariners made a concerted effort to add power last offseason, trading John Jaso for Morse and Jason Vargas for Kendrys Morales. In the case of Morse, he missed time in June and July with a sore wrist and has otherwise suffered through a rough year. That was particularly true at home, where he hit .210/.277/.363 in 34 games with just five of his 13 homers. Away from Safeco, though, he put up a .735 OPS and a solid .208 isolated slugging percentage. Assuming Morse hits for the Orioles, he will make for an upgrade at DH (where Danny Valencia, Steve Pearce and Wilson Betemit roam) as well as a nice platoon/reserve option for lefty-hitting regulars on the corner outfield (Nate McLouth and Nick Markakis) and at first base (Chris Davis).