O's acquire speed, athleticism in Pie
Pitchers Olson, Williamson dealt to Cubs for young outfielder
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles got sleeker and more athletic on Sunday, when they dealt starting pitcher Garrett Olson and a low-level prospect to the Cubs for left fielder Felix Pie.
Pie, a fleet-footed former center fielder, is expected to get the lion's share of starts at left field, filling out the alignment next to Adam Jones and Nick Markakis.
Andy MacPhail, Baltimore's president of baseball operations, said that he had been trying to acquire Pie since the Winter Meetings and that Luke Scott will likely serve as designated hitter next season.
"We're delighted to have him," MacPhail said. "He's young and athletic, and he's a plus runner and plus defender with a plus throwing arm. We think he's going to hit, and we're going to give him the opportunity to play."
Pie, who has been a highly touted prospect in years past, struggled in his initial big league audition. The left-handed hitter has batted .223 with a .284 on-base percentage in 260 Major League at-bats, but he's a .299 hitter with a .353 career on-base mark in the Minors, and MacPhail thinks he'll get better with a more regular chance to play.
"I've been impressed with him for a long time, and I know he has a great work ethic and desire," said MacPhail, who used to hold a similar post in Chicago's organization. "I know he's going to do everything he can to make himself a good Major League player, and it's hard for us to envision having a better defensive outfield."
Scott got the majority of starts at left field for Baltimore last season, but MacPhail said he envisions him more as a DH next season. In turn, that will allow Aubrey Huff to slot in as the team's regular first baseman. Pie will likely be spotted against left-handed pitchers by veteran utilityman Ryan Freel, who was acquired earlier this winter.
By losing Olson, the Orioles introduced more uncertainty into a unstable rotation. Baltimore has Jeremy Guthrie and newly signed free agent Koji Uehara as surefire starters, and everything is unsettled after that. MacPhail said that in Olson's case, the Orioles just had to make a sacrifice in order to get a player they've liked for some time.
"Were sorry to have to part with him," said MacPhail of Olson, who went 9-10 with a 6.65 ERA last season. "Obviously, it's not an area that we have a lot of depth in, but we think that may change as the season progresses. It's just a situation where we have to give something up in order to get something we need."
Olson, a former second-round Draft pick, may not be long for Chicago. Rumors have consistently pointed the Cubs toward a trade with San Diego for ace Jake Peavy, and the Padres reportedly covet young pitching. That could mean that Olson, a native of Fresno, Calif., could end up traded twice and living a whole lot closer to home.
The Orioles also surrendered Henry Williamson, a 14th-round selection from the 2007 First-Year Player Draft. Williamson spent last season as a reliever with Class A Aberdeen and Class A Delmarva. Between the two stops, Williamson posted an 0-1 record with two saves and a 3.72 ERA in 2008.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.