02/10/09 7:25 PM EST
O's make Wigginton deal official
Baltimore signs off on two-year contract after additional testing
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Wigginton, a former 17th-round Draft pick, is expected to play a super-reserve role with Baltimore. The Orioles have a well-defined infield with four clearly entrenched starters -- first baseman Aubrey Huff, second baseman Brian Roberts, third baseman Melvin Mora and shortstop Cesar Izturis -- but Wigginton should still find plenty of at-bats.
In fact, he may play such a heavy role that he could affect the team's existing roster structure. Baltimore had been deliberating whether to carry 12 or 13 pitchers, but neither Wigginton nor Ryan Freel is able to play shortstop. That may cause the Orioles to keep a true utilityman, allowing Freel and Wigginton to concentrate on other roles.
Wigginton, a career .270 hitter with 110 home runs in seven seasons, is coming off a career year. The right-handed hitter split time between left field and third base with Houston, batting .285 with 23 home runs in just 386 at-bats. Baltimore designated Scott Moore for assignment to make room for Wigginton on the 40-man roster.
The Orioles seem set on feeding the lion's share of left-field at-bats to Felix Pie, who was acquired earlier this winter from the Cubs. Luke Scott appears to be set as the designated hitter, perhaps limiting Wigginton's utility. Both Pie and Scott struggle against lefties, which might open the door for Wigginton or Freel to play semi-regularly.
Wigginton, who was originally drafted by the Mets, has played for four teams in his career. He started out in New York and played with the Pirates and Rays before being traded to the Astros in 2007. Over time, Wigginton may be able to carve out playing time at first and third base, in addition to his expected duties at left field and DH.
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.