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Richard Hidalgo is mulling offer from Orioles

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The Orioles have officially offered a contract to Richard Hidalgo, one of the last remaining unsigned hitters who at least has the potential to make a big fantasy impact. From the Baltimore Sun:

The Orioles have offered free-agent outfielder Richard Hidalgo a minor league deal laden with incentives, and are awaiting word on whether he'll accept.

Hidalgo could make his decision as early as today. The 30-year-old hit .221 last season with 16 homers and 43 RBIs in 308 at-bats for the Texas Rangers.

The right-handed-hitting outfielder, who is known for his outfield arm, hit 25 or more homers in two previous seasons and had a career-high 44 homers in 2000. If he signs, he could contend for the starting left-field spot.

Hidalgo hit just .221 with 16 home runs last year with the Rangers, but he did so over just 88 games. It's clear that he still has big-league power, but his ability to hit for average is a huge question mark.

It's easy to simply write him off, but he's been so inconsistent over his career that it's not out of the question that he can still rebound. Just look at his career batting averages, starting in 1998: .303, .227, .314, .275, .235, .309, .239 and .221. Do you see any rhyme or reason? I don't.

Would anyone be that surprised if he hit .260-25-80 this year? Or even .290-30-90? And let's face it, if he's headed for a .220-15-45 season, you won't be keeping him in your starting lineup, and the Orioles likely won't be keeping him in theirs.

If Hidalgo does accept the O's offer, he'll likely be competing with Corey Patterson and Jeff Conine for time -- Patterson could also play center field, but Luis Matos seems pretty secure there.

He's a great speculative bid for your bench late in the draft -- I personally nabbed him with pick No. 332 in the Sportsline.com NL-only Experts Draft. Unfortunately I'll lose him if he does in fact sign with an AL team, but that late in the game, there's no reason not to gamble.

Anyone want to take a stab at his projection this year?

O's pursue Hidalgo [Baltimore Sun]