The Orioles have reportedly made their second roster move in the past 24 hours, inking utilityman Ty Wigginton to a two-year, $6 million deal. Versatile in the field, powerful at the plate and good in the clubhouse, the 31-year-old former Met, Pirate, Ray and Astro is the kind of player that any big league team would like to have on its roster.
Wigginton isn’t your typical jack-of-all-trades reserve. A right-handed batter, he’s topped the 20-homer mark in each of the past three seasons, accomplishing the feat last year in a mere 386 at bats. Wigginton’s pop doesn’t come at the expense of his batting average, either. The 6-foot, 200-pound UNC-Asheville product is a .270 career hitter, and has hit .275 or better every year since 2006.
However, versatility is what really makes Wigginton a great value for the O’s. Though he’s manned third base in the vast majority of his big league appearances, Wigginton has also seen time at first and second base and in left and right field. Though he saw time only at third and in left field last season with the Astros, he appeared at each of the five positions he’s played in the majors while splitting his time between Tampa Bay and Houston in 2007.
It remains to be seen how manager Dave Tremblay will use Wigginton, but there’s no shortage of options. Wigginton could play third from time to time to keep 37-year-old starter Melvin Mora fresh, or occasionally man first base and allow the left-handed hitting Aubrey Huff to take a night off or serve as the designated hitter. He could serve as the right-handed half of a left field platoon with either Felix Pie or Luke Scott, or DH against left-handers. He’ll have value as both a pinch-hitter and a defensive replacement in the late innings. His presence gives the front office more flexibility to pursue potential trades. And if a regular goes down, he could step in and start at any of the five positions he’s played as a big leaguer.
In other words, there’s no doubt Wigginton will prove useful to the Orioles this season - and next. Huff, second baseman Brian Roberts and Mora are all eligible for free agency after this season, and Wigginton could potentially step in for any one of them, softening any potential blow considerably. Kudos to Andy MacPhail on a good signing.
Jay LeBlanc is an assistant news editor at The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.