Known for his speed and defense, Alexi Casilla will compete… (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore…)
The Orioles have made a move to strengthen their infield defense, claiming 28-year-old second baseman Alexi Casilla from the Minnesota Twins on Friday.
Casilla, 28, is primarily a second baseman but has played shortstop and third base in his seven-year big league career, all with the Twins. Last season, the speedy Casilla hit .241 with a .282 on-base percentage and stole 21 bases in 22 attempts.
“He has really good speed and plays good defense. He should be in the mix for [second base] this year,” Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said. “The big thing is his speed and defensive capabilities.”
Casilla will compete for the starting second base job with Robert Andino and Ryan Flaherty – who were in a platoon at the end of the 2012 season. Brian Roberts, the former incumbent who has played just 115 games for the Orioles in the past three years due to injuries, is attempting to come back from hip surgery.
With the acquisition of Casilla, Duquette does not expect to actively pursue another second baseman this offseason.
Casilla, who made nine errors in 96 games (450 chances) at second base for the Twins in 2012, is arbitration eligible this year and can become a free agent next season. He made $1.38 million last year and likely will make slightly under $2 million in 2013.
The Orioles now have 16 players that are eligible for arbitration this winter. Some could be taken off the 40-man roster, however, before contracts must be tendered by Nov. 30.
On Saturday, players who have filed for free agency can begin to talk with other teams. The Orioles have some interest in retaining pitcher Joe Saunders, outfielder Nate McLouth and designated hitter Jim Thome, but no agreement was reached during the exclusive negotiating period, meaning the three will be able to discuss contracts with all interested parties starting Saturday.
Also Friday, the Orioles announced they have outrighted outfielder Lew Ford, infielder Steve Tolleson and lefty Zach Phillips to Triple-A Norfolk and reinstated right-handers Oliver Drake and Stu Pomeranz, lefty Tsuyoshi Wada, Roberts and outfielder Nolan Reimold from the 60-day disabled list.