BALTIMORE -- For the Orioles, the search for a true center fielder continues. The club has an opening there after designating struggling Keon Broxton for assignment on Sunday, likely signaling the end to his short tenure in Baltimore.
Acquired from the Mets in a May 22 trade to plug the hole in center field, Broxton struggled mightily during his two-month stint with the O’s, hitting .204 with a .611 OPS in 37 games. Broxton started just once in the past six games due in part to the emergence of Anthony Santander, who manager Brandon Hyde said will split center field reps with Stevie Wilkerson going forward.
Both are playing the position for the first time this season.
“He kinda had a tough time getting going,” Hyde said of Broxton. “I can’t put my finger on it, if he put too much pressure on himself or whatever it may be. It wasn’t happening offensively.”
When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.
The Orioles don’t expect Broxton to remain in the organization. They recalled right-hander Branden Kline from Triple-A Norfolk in a corresponding move.
“I’m hoping he’ll get picked up by somebody, especially someone who needs outfield defense and baserunning for the postseason,” Hyde said. “I wish Keon the best.”
Broxton, 29, hit the Orioles’ longest home run of the season in his first at bat with the club, a 474-foot blast on May 24 in Colorado that, briefly, hinted at the big tools that once made Broxton a top prospect. But as often is the case with such power, Broxton’s came with significant swing-and-miss, which hamstrung his production in Baltimore, as it did in Milwaukee and New York prior.
Broxton struck out in 49 of his 112 plate appearances with the Orioles, a whopping 43.75 percent of the time. That largely negated the value Broxton brought in other areas, namely with his legs and glove in center field.
“It’s been the hardest year of my life,” Broxton told MLB.com on Friday. “It’s been really hard to find my confidence, but I’m motivated and driven, so I come in and work hard and hope everything I’m working on is going to pay off. I don’t get too down on myself, I don’t think I can’t do it. I’m able and capable. It’s just finding that consistency, keeping my faith and my confidence.”
Broxton hit 20 home runs and stole 21 bases with the Brewers as recently as 2017, but has hit just .183 with eight homers in 122 games since, playing mostly in a reserve role. All told, Broxton is a career .215/.301/.397 hitter with 37 home runs and an 82 OPS+ across parts of five big league seasons with the Pirates, Brewers, Mets and Orioles.