The Orioles are changing their infield in an effort to end an 18-game losing streak, the longest in Major League Baseball in 16 years and just three short of tying their 21-game skid to begin the 1988 season.
The most noteworthy change is the promotion of second baseman Jahmai Jones from Triple-A Norfolk and the designation for assignment of third baseman Maikel Franco. The Orioles also have optioned shortstop Richie Martin to Norfolk.
It’s expected that they’ll recall third baseman Kelvin Gutierrez from Norfolk before Tuesday night’s game against the Angels.
Franco, who was a late free-agent signing in spring training, was expected to provide more offense at third. However, the 28-year-old has a -1.3 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and is hitting .210 with 11 home runs and 47 RBIs. In 19 games in August, Franco has hit just .180 with one RBI.
Martin, who missed most of the season because of a broken left wrist, is hitting .227 with a home run and five RBIs in 15 games. He’s committed three errors and could have been charged with another one in Saturday’s game.
Martin was a Rule 5 draft choice in December 2018 and stayed with the Orioles throughout the 2019 season. He was expected to spend much of 2020 at Norfolk but the pandemic and a broken right wrist ended his year. The Orioles expected Martin to spend much of 2021 with the Tides, but he has played only 13 games at Triple-A.
Jones was acquired by the Orioles on February 2nd from the Angels in exchange for right-handed pitcher Alex Cobb.
In three games with the Angels in 2020, Jones was 3-for-7 (.429) with one RBI. Jones was adjusting to second base with Norfolk and hit .238 with 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. Jones stole 10 bases in 13 attempts and committed seven errors in 52 games at second base. He didn’t commit an error in 11 games in left field, his original position.
Jones missed time earlier this season because of an oblique injury. He’ll become the 54th player used by the Orioles, four short of the team record of 58 in 2019.
To take the place of Franco on the 40-man roster, the Orioles claimed right-hander Conner Greene on waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Greene, who allowed six runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings for a 14.73 ERA, was claimed on waivers from the Orioles on August 9th.
Greene threw two scoreless innings for the Dodgers and was designated for assignment on August 20th. He’ll be optioned to Norfolk.