The Baltimore Orioles roster is collecting the latest additions from the past several days including re-signing outfielder Michael Bourn and lefty pitcher Richard Bleier.
The Baltimore Orioles have made a number of moves over the last few days, and while most wouldn’t call them significant, they will all impact the final composition of the roster.
The first move was the signing of Craig Gentry. Gentry is trying to rebound from two concussion-plagued seasons, and all signs so far have been positive. Gentry is a plus glove, plus speed guy, exactly what the Orioles so desperately need.
Then came the acquisition of Vidal Nuno for minor league RHP Ryan Moseley. Nuno is a left-hander with options and helped lead to T.J. McFarland being designated for assignment. Nuno has had major league success, despite a 5-20 major league record. He is a guy who pitches to contact, and as long as that contact stays in the yard, that will play in Baltimore.
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McFarland is out of options and was not a guarantee to make the Orioles’ roster. Now, he could resign with Baltimore on a minor league deal, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t find any takers on the open market.
Then, Monday was no day of rest for Dan Duquette, as Michael Bourn was acquired on a minor-league deal with a spring training invitation. Bourn can opt out if he is not on the Orioles’ roster by March 27, and if he is on the roster, he will make $2 million.
That is not a huge investment for a guy who was a key contributor not only down the stretch but also in the playoffs.
Last week, the New York Yankees designated Richard Bleier for assignment when they signed Chris Carter, another name tied to the Orioles this winter. Bleier probably has the least name recognition of these four pieces, but he had a very successful season in the Yankees’ pen in 2016. Bleier went 0-0 with a 1.96 ERA and a WHIP of 1.043.
Bleier took a circuitous route to the majors. He was drafted in 2008 by Texas but bounced around in their minor leagues for five years before going to Toronto, where he largely pitched in the AA Eastern League. In 2015, Bleier joined the Nationals’ farm system, where he was used primarily as a starter for AA Harrisburg and AAA Syracuse. 2016 found the left-hander in the Yankees’ system, where he finally made it to the major leagues.
Bleier’s appeal to the Orioles is the fact he is left-handed and still has two options remaining, which seems to be what the organization is stockpiling at this point.
In exchange, Christian Walker was DFA’d. With all the outfield additions recently and the rule 5 picks, Mark Trumbo coming back, Trey Mancini‘s emergence, Walker was a man without a place in the majors. Hopefully, now he can catch on with someone else.
So, in summary, the Orioles have added two left-handed relievers with options, while signing two outfielders who are known for their speed and defense. Those were arguably the team’s two biggest needs.
This means that the left-handed relief options include Donnie Hart, Bleier, Nuno, Logan Ondrusek and Jed Bradley. If Hart has a decent spring, he will likely make the team. The positive with these guys are options remaining, and several have the ability to either start or work in relief as a swing-type of a reliever. It gives Buck Showalter flexibility as he constructs his roster.
The outfield options are just as crowded. Adam Jones, Mark Trumbo, Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith would all appear to be safe. That leaves Joey Rickard, Aneurys Tavarez, Anthony Santander and Dariel Alvarez as the other four OFs on the 40-man roster, with Walker being DFA’d.
Other options in camp are Michael Bourn, Craig Gentry, David Washington, Logan Schafer, Chris Dickerson and Michael Choice. Bourn and Gentry should be considered the true favorites to make the team. Dariel Alvarez is the longest of long shots at this point, and he is also out of options. Joey Rickard has options and appears headed for AAA Norfolk, but he made the roster last year off a scorching-hot spring so that I wouldn’t write him off yet.
As for Santander and Tavarez, the two Rule 5 selections, it appears more and more that neither will make the roster.
However, a single game has not been played yet, so there is a long way to go to play out what the Orioles’ Opening Day roster will look like, and even which of these players remain in the organization come April.