To fill right field, O's eye free agency or in-house move

Cuban outfield prospect Dariel Alvarez will get chance in Spring Training

To fill right field, O's eye free agency or in-house move

BALTIMORE -- The free-agent outfield landscape shifted this weekend, with Melky Cabrera agreeing to a three-year contract with the White Sox worth between $42 million and $43.5 million. While Baltimore had some interest in Cabrera, the club never made a significant run at the outfielder as the organization tries to plug holes with shorter-term deals.

The 30-year-old chose the deal that kept him closest to the East Coast.

So where do the O's go from here?

Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said following Thursday's Rule 5 Draft in San Diego that the club could have some announced signings as early as this week, though he didn't elaborate on whether those would be outfielders. Duquette was consistent at the Winter Meetings in stating that the O's have a better chance at signing a free agent then making a trade, though the field to make deals alters with every free agent like Cabrera who comes off the board.

The Mariners and Royals are among the teams looking for corner outfielders, while the Rays and Red Sox have a surplus from which they could deal. However, divisional trades are unlikely, and the O's reportedly had no interest in right-handed-hitting Rockies outfielder Drew Stubbs when approached by Colorado earlier this offseason. Duquette shot down any notion that the O's would trade for Braves outfielder Justin Upton, and their interest in Phillies veteran Marlon Byrd has been overblown, which would once again make a free-agent signing seem more plausible.

Another factor to consider is the Orioles' long-term outfield plan. Duquette didn't seem too blown away with who's available, and it's entirely possible the O's will sign a lower-tier free agent to buy them time on Cuban prospect Dariel Alvarez.

"After looking at some of the talent on the market, I'm looking forward to giving Dariel Alvarez a shot this spring," Duquette said.

The general consensus on the 26-year-old Alvarez is that he needs more Minor League seasoning, having played just one full season in the Minors. Still, his defense is superb and his arm is considered his best asset, a fact that may help him gain an early arrival. Manager Buck Showalter has long been a believer of young players getting a chance as long as they can defend, citing that reason as the prime one in the promotion of Manny Machado from Double-A and moving him over to third base.

Alvarez played 91 games at Double-A Bowie before he was promoted to Triple-A Norfolk. He batted .301/.328/.439 there in 44 games.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.