Word has been going around baseball that the Orioles are looking at external options at third base, in order to fill the hole left by the departed Melvin Mora. While top 3B prospect Josh Bell isn't quite ready to jump into the majors, he's close enough that spending money to add one of the marquee third basemen on the market would be a mistake.
Certainly, the Orioles could use help at third base in the short-term, going into next season with Ty Wigginton at third, Michael Aubrey at first and Luke Scott at DH isn't exactly ideal, especially considering that Wigginton is a horrid defender at third, with a -16.4 UZR/150 in 566 games at the position.
The lack of options would make one think that adding someone like Dan Uggla or Mark DeRosa could be a good addition, filling the hole until Bell is ready. But realistically, there would be few benefits to adding one of those guys. The Orioles are highly unlikely to contend in 2010, their rotation is greatly dependent on the volatile Jeremy Guthrie, a repeat of Brad Bergesen's breakout season, and the continued development of stud prospects Brian Matusz and Chris Tillman.
Given the competition in that division, it seems highly unlikely that improvement at third base would make a legitimate difference in the short term. So what exactly would the Orioles gain from spending valuable resources on a player that wouldn't bring them particularly closer to contending, while blocking arguably their best prospect in the upper levels of the minors?
Bell already has a very developed approach at the plate, he posted a 13.0% walk rate in AA, while flashing plus power and the ability to be above average defensively at third base, although he's not there yet. Given his developed approach and the likeliness that he'll stick at third, it seems that the Orioles should be planning on having him as their everyday third baseman by 2011, with the idea of spending that extra payroll to fill in other holes in the lineup, like the massive gaping hole at shortstop and depth in the starting rotation.
No need for the Orioles to add a marquee third baseman, they already have one with those kind of capabilities in AAA that should be ready within a year.