CLEVELAND — The Orioles may have found a defensive stopgap for second base Friday, and they officially cut ties with a pitcher once expected to be part of the franchise's future.
It wasn't exactly a pre-trade deadline blockbuster, but the Orioles sent cash to the New York Mets on Friday for 30-year-old infielder Omar Quintanilla, who was designated for assignment earlier this week.
The Orioles had an opening on their 40-man roster after designating right-hander Brad Bergesen on Wednesday. Bergesen, once considered a viable part of the club's future rotation after a successful first half in 2009, was claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday — ending his eight-year association with the Orioles.
A 25-man roster move will have to be made Saturday afternoon when Quintanilla arrives at Progressive Field. The Orioles likely will do something involving Steve Tolleson or Ryan Flaherty — considering Quintanilla is expected to take over at second base with Robert Andino on the disabled list — but manager Buck Showalter is not showing his hand yet.
"I have ideas on how we are going to use [Quintanilla]," Showalter said. "But obviously we are going to have to make a corresponding move."
Quintanilla, a defensive specialist who is a .218 career hitter with a .278 career on-base percentage in parts of seven big-league seasons, batted .257 with a .350 on-base percentage in 29 games with the Mets this season.
"We like his defense and his ability to play second base and he also can play good at short and third. And when playing a lot with the Mets he was dependable in catching the ball and in getting on base," said Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette. "We had a need for an experienced second baseman."
A former first round supplemental pick of theOakland A's, Quintanilla has never done much with the bat, but he is widely considered an above-average defender at shortstop and second.
"I talked with some people I know with the Mets after the fact, and they speak very highly of him," Showalter said. "We're excited about having him. We saw him in New York and have good reports on him."
With the non-waiver trade deadline approaching July 31, Duquette has said he is seeking a pitching upgrade and a hitter than gets on base at a high clip. That's not Quintanilla's track record, but he was much better at that this season.
"Hopefully, [Quintanilla] is a good on-base man. Take a look at his OBP capabilities with the Mets. He was good. We hope he brings the same [thing] with us," Duquette said. "[But] we are looking at our on-base capabilities. No question. We need to do a better job with that."
Bergesen "excited" for opportunity
Bergesen, 26, did not pitch for the Orioles this season. He was called up this week and did not get in a game before being taken off the roster. He was 4-3 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 games (10 starts) for Triple-A Norfolk.
He will report to Phoenix on Saturday and has been told he'll be pitching out of the big league bullpen.
"I'm really excited. It's kind of that nervous and excited feeling," Bergesen said. "It's my first time in a new organization, it's a fresh start and I'm looking forward to it. At the same time, Baltimore is a great organization, the only one I've ever known. I've made so many great friends that I'll really miss. The Angelos family was so good to me over the years. I had so many great memories … It's a bittersweet thing."
Bergesen had a star-crossed Orioles career. He was in contention for AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, but his season ended in July when he took a liner off his left leg. That winter he hurt his arm throwing for an Orioles commercial, and he never really regained the form that made him part of the club's so-called "cavalry."
He basically bounced up and down between Triple-A and the majors. This season he was in and out of the Norfolk rotation.
"It's been a weird year for me. A lot of things I hadn't experienced before," he said. "In talking to other people who have been through it, you have to focus on your craft, focus on pitching and it will all work itself out. And now I have another opportunity. It's uplifting."
Bergesen was 17-24 with a 4.68 ERA in 83 games, 59 starts, for the Orioles in parts of three big league seasons.
"Brad Bergesen spent his whole career with the Orioles," Duquette said. "I called him to thank him for his service. It's a new opportunity for him I wish him a lot of luck on his new opportunity."