There was only a single trade made for a second straight day, and it again centered around a catcher as the Orioles shipped Ramon Hernandez to the Reds for utility player Ryan Freel and two minor league infielders, Justin Turner and Brandon Wearing. The Reds had been looking for a veteran catcher to share time with and serve as a mentor to rookie Ryan Hanigan. Hernandez, 32, had a fine first season with the Orioles in 2006 when he had a .281 EqA and 7.6 WARP2. However, those numbers have fallen in both of the last two seasons (.253, 3.2, and .251, 4.0).
The Reds hope that Hernandez is not a player on the decline, but rather someone who will be rejuvenated by switching teams and leagues. "Our scouts did notice that there was probably some level of frustration he was experiencing in Baltimore," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I did research on it with other people who have had him and got great reports, so we do think a change of scenery will help him immensely. We've got a pretty good pitching staff that I think he will develop and work well with while showing renewed energy."
Freel, 32, was limited to 48 games last season by a torn hamstring and had a .246 EqA. Orioles manager Dave Tremblay likes Freel's versatility. "He's like two players in one, because he can play all four infield positions and all three spots in the outfield," Trembley said. "We're more like a National League team than most American League teams. I like to pinch hit and pinch run more than most American League managers, and ability to play so many positions will come in handy."
The trade leaves the Orioles without a catcher on the 40-man roster. Vice president Andy MacPhail made it clear that the deal was made primarily to open a lineup spot for catching prospect Matt Wieters, though the Orioles will look to add a veteran backstop in case their top draft pick from 2007 needs to spend at least the beginning of the season at Triple-A Norfolk.