The Baltimore Orioles roster for 2019 will look decisively different than it did to start 2018, as the team is in a full rebuild.
We’ve already discussed that the Baltimore Orioles are in the midst of a full rebuild, and looked at what the payroll could look like of players currently in the organization.
Now, I want to look at what the roster could look like for the Orioles in 2019.
In the payroll piece, I laid out in some fashion that the Orioles’ 40-man roster could be made up of expected pieces either on the roster, or players that are pushing for major league playing time.
However, there will likely be some attrition, with players removed from the roster due to trades, being released, etc.
Let’s take a look at who the likely players that are currently in the organization who will be on the 40-man roster in 2019.
The Orioles clearly like Wynns, seeing from how much time the young catcher has had in the majors this year. Chance Sisco is the future, and unless the team changes his position, which doesn’t seem likely right now, he should be in the major leagues.
Joseph could be released, but his leadership and veteran savvy are useful with these young catchers. Susac is also useful as a depth piece and in Triple-A, but it is possible he could be released from his contract.
I think Davis, Villar, and Beckham will all be starters next season. Peterson could start at third base or could be released. Dosch could also start at third base, as he has kind of maximized his time at Triple-A Norfolk.
Wilkerson will be the primary utility piece, with Valera another possibility for the Orioles 25-man roster.
While it might make sense to sign a free agent third baseman, I believe the Orioles, in a rebuilding year, should look at Peterson, Wilkerson, Dosch, Valera, Vielma and Nunez and determine if these players are major league starters, utility players, or minor league types.
I have not added Ryan Mountcastle because I believe he starts the season in Triple-A Norfolk as the Orioles fine tune where they want him to play defensively. For a rebuilding team, there is no use rushing someone who may need to learn a new position.
I feel confident that Mullins and Stewart should be starters for the Orioles next year. I have Mancini listed first because ideally, he is your designated hitter and Mark Trumbo is traded.
Who does that leave for left field? Well, a number of players. Austin Hays likely isn’t ready, as the rest of this season is just getting back in shape after an injury-riddled season.
Santander hasn’t shown himself ready to return to the majors.
Not mentioned is Yusniel Diaz. Diaz, of course, is the best prospect received in the trades last month, coming over from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Machado trade. While I think he is an Oriole in 2019, I don’t think he will be ready to start the season in Baltimore.
The problem, as you can see, is that if Trumbo is traded, the Orioles would have three starters, Mancini at DH, and no one else. They could bring back Craig Gentry to back up, but a better use of the roster would be to use Nunez and Peterson in the outfield when they need to give players days off and let Rickard play all three outfield positions.
This list is exactly the same as the number of starters currently on the 40-man, while the Orioles are carrying 12 relievers. If you were concerned about the fourth and fifth starter this year, next year looks really bad. And, Harvey won’t be included on the Opening Day roster, as he has dealt with injuries again.
I ranked these in a relative order, although it is clear that the back-end of the bullpen is up for grabs. Mychal Givens was thought to be the future closer, but his rough 2018 could have changed beliefs on that. Wright has been very solid as a reliever.
Scott has not bee very good, but he has late-inning stuff. Bleier belongs as a situational setup man, but I don’t think he is ready at the beginning of the season. Castro has been very solid this year, and Fry has been good in his appearances as well.
This list puts exactly 40 players on the 40-man roster.
The hardest to keep off were Ryan Mountcastle, Yusniel Diaz and John Means.
Jhan Marinez was removed based on his 2018 performance.
Other players who are at risk of being removed are Andrew Susac, as I think he is behind the other three catchers, Engelb Vielma and Gabriel Ynoa.
Anticipating that Mark Trumbo gets traded, that could leave four openings on the 40-man roster.
Who could potentially fill them from inside the organization? Mountcastle, Diaz and Means make sense, as direct replacements (and not needing four catchers on the 40-man).
But, what are some options who are 2019 free agents?