NEWS

Opening Day Roster Spot Likely

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The youthful Baltimore Orioles signed veteran second baseman-left fielder Tony Kemp to a major league contract reportedly worth $1 million one week after he was released from a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, according to The Baltimore Sun’s Jacob Calvin Meyer.

Orioles general manager Mike Elias told reporters on Friday that he would remain “nimble” when it came to adding to the roster in the days between spring training’s end and Opening Day. Per Meyer, a source with direct knowledge of the deal confirmed that Kemp does not have a minor league option, making it likely that he is on the Opening Day roster.

The 32-year-old has played in parts of eight major league seasons at several positions, mainly second base and left field. He spent the last three seasons in Oakland with a struggling Athletics club, where he had an OPS of .800 in 2021 before dropping down to .601 last season.

Tony Kemp Signs with Baltimore
Tony Kemp of the Oakland Athletics looks on against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on Sept. 10, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. Kemp signed with Baltimore on Tuesday.

Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Signing Kemp is an interesting move for a team that had veteran Kolten Wong and the league’s top prospect Jackson Holliday in camp. All three second basemen are left-handed batters, but the Orioles are opting to go with Kemp.

The Orioles designated utilityman Nick Maton for assignment to accommodate Kemp on their 40-man roster. Maton wasn’t expected to make the team after going 0-for-23 this spring, but the move had to be made for Kemp to be available immediately.

A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Kemp appeared in eight Cactus League games with the Reds this spring after signing as a minor league free agent with an invite to big league camp. He slashed .333/.391/.619 (7-for-21) with one double, one triple, one homer, two runs scored, five RBI, and two walks.

Kemp was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft out of Vanderbilt. Elias was the Astros’ scouting director at the time, making him familiar with Kemp and his skillset. He debuted with the Astros in 2016 and played in parts of four seasons with them before landing in Chicago with the Cubs in 2019. He played in Oakland for the last four seasons.

With the A’s last year, he batted .209/.303/.304 (75-for-359) with 13 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 42 runs scored, 27 RBI, 44 walks, six hit-by-pitches, and a career-high 15 stolen bases in 124 games. He appeared in 65 games in left field and 57 games at second base.

In his career, he has slashed a combined .238/.325/.352 (460-for-1936) with 87 doubles, 15 triples, 35 home runs, 261 runs scored, 184 RBI, 226 walks, 33 hit-by-pitches, and 53 stolen bases.

The two moves involving Kemp and Maton have the Orioles’ 40-man roster exactly at 40 players.