Projecting the Baltimore Orioles Opening Day Roster 2018

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 16: Craig Gentry
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 16: Craig Gentry /

The Baltimore Orioles roster received some substantial upgrades, especially in the Orioles starting rotation as we project the Opening Day depth chart.

The Baltimore Orioles will be playing baseball that counts next week in the standings, but they must trim their roster for Opening Day first.

Maybe, by next week it will feel like spring, as the snow melts from Winter Storm Toby and the green grass returns.

Whether it feels like it or not, regular season baseball is a-coming, and that is a glorious thing.

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The Baltimore Orioles’ roster on Opening Day will not be their roster all season. We’ve grown accustomed to major changes throughout the season.

With Mark Trumbo on the DL, Zach Britton on the DL, Gabriel Ynoa on the DL, and Alex Cobb starting in the minors to build up innings, it means a lot of major changes (Ynoa not one of them) will take place over the first two months.

The team has already said they will start with 12 pitchers, including five starters, and 13 position players.

This is necessary because the team doesn’t have a lot of off days early in the season like they typically do. The Birds play March 29, are off on March 30, then play from March 31 through April 11. The 12th is an off-day, and then the Orioles play a stretch of games from April 13 until April 29, including a nice 10-game homestand.

First, a list of who is still in camp, as provided this AM by Roch Kubatko, and removing Andrew Susac and Engelb Vielma, who were optioned to Norfolk early this afternoon.

Catchers (2): Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco

Infielders (7): Pedro Alvarez, Tim Beckham, Chris Davis, Manny Machado, Luis Sardinas, Jonathan Schoop, Danny Valencia

Outfielders (9): Craig Gentry, Austin Hays, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Alex Presley, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander, Trumbo

Pitchers (17): Pedro Araujo, Richard Bleier, Brad Brach, Britton, Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Miguel Castro, Cobb, Nestor Cortes Jr., Josh Edgin, Kevin Gausman, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day, Joely Rodriguez, Chris Tillman, Mike Wright Jr., Ynoa

That number is a total of 35 players. As mentioned, we can take off Britton, Cobb, Trumbo and Ynoa to get to 31. That leaves the Orioles with six more cuts to make before Opening Day.

First, let’s start with the catchers. The only question now is who is the starter, or is it more like a 50/50 split. Another interesting question is how much Sisco DH’s?

As for the infielders, Davis, Schoop, Machado and Beckham are starting, as long as Davis and Beckham are both physically ready, which it appears they should be.

I think Valencia makes the team, especially with Trumbo hurt and the team knowing he will not go to the minor leagues. Right now we are at seven position players.

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Of the outfielders, Mancini, Jones and Rasmus appear to be starters. Santander is staying, and deservedly so. That puts us at 11.

The remaining two spots will likely go to an outfielder who can play all positions, and then a wild card. That outfielder comes down to Presley, Gentry, Mullins and Hays.

Despite his impressive defense and speed, Mullins will start the season in Double-A Bowie. However, don’t be surprised to see him in the major leagues in 2018. I also think Presley goes, as of the two veterans, the Orioles have a track record with Gentry, and Gentry has also had a really good spring.

This position is more of a speed and defensive replacement position and not a starter, and for that reason, I think it will be Gentry. If Hays is going to be in the major leagues he needs to start, similarly to Sisco. Whether he should start over Rasmus at this point is up for debate, but I don’t think he does.

That leaves one spot for a position player wild card. Of those currently on the roster, that likely means it will go to either Pedro Alvarez, Luis Sardinas or Alex Presley. I think that Presley is a bit duplicative, and wouldn’t see much playing time with Gentry on the roster.

In replacing Trumbo, a platoon situation could work for the Orioles, with Valencia as half of that platoon. Alvarez would be the perfect other half, as the team won’t want his glove anywhere near the field.

However, this gives the team a lot of inflexibility defensively. Now, I’ve written numerous times why the Orioles don’t need a utility player and am holding firm to that. Beckham can play 2B and shortstop and will play third base. Schoop has played shortstop before in the majors. Machado can play third base, obviously. Chris Davis can also play third base as well, with Trey Mancini playing first base.

And, if the injury is serious enough, the Orioles will need to make a roster move anyways. They can get through a game without clogging a spot for a what-if. Make your bench better for pinch hitter situations with Alvarez (although this might mean some shifting of positions will need to take place, depending on who is getting pinch-hit for).

With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if frenemy (depending on your personal opinion) of the Orioles Ryan Flaherty returns and takes this roster spot.

Now, as for the pitchers.

We know that the first four starters are Dylan Bundy, and as of earlier this morning:

The fifth spot is up in the air. Kubatko tweeted that they haven’t committed to anyone yet, and are checking the waiver wire. That isn’t a good sign for several candidates.

But, let’s finish out the roster.

Four of the starters have been named, and Britton, Cobb and Ynoa are three more who won’t start with the team.

Eight more to go.

Brach, O’Day, Givens and Bleier will likely be the four back-end pieces of the bullpen.

That leaves four more spots. One for a starter and three for relievers. Those who are left include Araujo, Castro, Cortes Jr. Edgin, Rodriguez and Wright Jr. Araujo has been the best of the Rule 5 pitchers, including the departed Jose Mesa Jr. He is staying.

Castro, I believe, will be sent to Triple-A Norfolk in order to start. Lastly, Cortes Jr. will be the long man in the bullpen behind five right-handed starters (once Cobb returns).

Unless the Orioles make a waiver wire move, I think Wright starts the season as the placeholder in the rotation until Cobb arrives. He has talent and may be better served as a late-inning reliever, but the Orioles will likely give him one more chance.

That leaves Edgin and Rodriguez. Both were signed to minor league deals, but both appear to be out of options as well. Rodriguez, a tall pitcher with a big arm, has the ability to hit speeds not seen by the Orioles’ bullpen since Tommy Hunter departed.

As a stark contrast to other pieces in the ‘pen, such as O’Day and Cortes Jr., I think Rodriguez gets the final spot. He also is younger than Edgin, who will likely get picked up by another team looking for a lefty reliever.

Baltimore Orioles 25-Man Roster

Catchers: Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco

Infielders: Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Tim Beckham, Manny Machado, Danny Valencia, Pedro Alvarez

Outfielders: Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander, Craig Gentry

Starting pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman, Mike Wright Jr.

Bullpen: Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O’Day, Richard Bleier, Joely Rodriguez, Pedro Araujo, Nestor Cortes Jr.

Next: AL East Infield Rankings 2018

Make sure to stay up-to-date with the latest Baltimore Orioles news here at The Baltimore Wire as Opening Day baseball nears. Also, make sure to leave us your comments on the Orioles Opening Day lineup.