Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins and Anthony Santander didn’t just survive the rebuild. During the Orioles’ best season in almost a decade, these three outfielders thrived. The trio combined for 59 home runs and 8.4 wins above replacement (WAR) in 2023, according to Baseball Reference.
But they won’t be around forever. Hays and Mullins are scheduled to hit free agency following the 2025 season, and 2024 will be Santander’s final year under contract. General manager and Executive Vice President Mike Elias could be inclined to deal one or more of these three this winter in order to acquire a pitcher.
If the O’s trade a starting outfielder, left-handed-hitting youngsters Heston Kjerstad, Colton Cowser and Kyle Stowers would be natural candidates to see increased playing time. But as Elias demonstrated by signing Aaron Hicks in May, he’s not afraid to add a veteran to the mix.
Here are four free agent outfielders the Orioles could target this offseason.
A journeyman with 10 seasons under his belt, Duvall made the Red Sox his fifth big league organization by signing a one-year deal with Boston last offseason. Playing the majority of his games in center field, Duvall hit 21 home runs to go with a .247 batting average and an .834 on-base-plus-slugging (OPS).
The 35-year-old hits from the right side but has nearly identical career splits against lefties and righties. Should Baltimore deal Hays, Duvall’s above-average arm strength could be useful in Camden Yards’ gargantuan left field. A one- or two-year deal could make sense for the O’s as they evaluate Kjerstad and Cowser.
Amazing what a little Southern California sunshine can do for a player. After registering a career-worst -0.7 WAR with the Cubs in 2022, Heyward turned back the clock with the Dodgers this past season, batting .269 with 15 home runs and an .813 OPS.
A former Braves phenom who reached the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2010, Heyward still plays elite defense, ranking in the 91st percentile among outfielders in outs above average, according to Statcast.
Heyward’s left-handed swing would play well at Camden Yards, where the 35-year-old has hit .421 in seven career games. He also boasts excellent plate discipline, a quality for which Elias praised Hicks.
Had Pederson hit free agency last offseason, instead of accepting his $19.65 million qualifying offer from the Giants, he would have looked good in a different uniform with black and orange. Joc’s left-handed power produced only 15 homers in 2023, but he’s capable of a lot more, as evidenced by his impressive exit velocities and barrel percentage.
Pederson has two All-Star nods and an .800 career OPS in 10 big league seasons. The 31-year-old has also racked up loads of playoff experience, winning back-to-back titles with the Dodgers and Braves in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Pederson served as the designated hitter for the majority of his games with San Francisco this past season, but he also spent some time in left field. A Santander trade would free up at-bats at DH for the Orioles. Elias would have to decide whether the addition of Pederson would be worth blocking Kjerstad and Cowser.
Having played for seven big league teams over the course of his career — including four in the last two seasons alone — Pham is an ideal Immaculate Grid guess. The Orioles are all too familiar with Pham from his stints with the Rays and Red Sox, as the 35-year-old has a .929 OPS in 18 career games at Camden Yards.
Pham impressed with the Mets during the first half of the 2023 season before being shipped to the eventual pennant-winning Diamondbacks. In all, he hit .256 with a .774 OPS and stole 22 bases.
With an .834 career OPS against lefties and the ability to hit leadoff, Pham would make sense as a potential replacement for Hays. Just don’t put him in the same fantasy football league as Pederson.