Now that the dust has settled from yesterday’s 40-man roster activity, I wanted to chime in with a few observations.
First of all, please keep in mind that the Orioles can eliminate players from the 40-man and add others from outside the organization - whether it’s someone acquired via free agency, a trade or the Rule 5 draft. The only restriction is they can’t add someone from within the organization, so the minor leaguers currently exposed to the Dec. 8 draft will remain that way.
I wasn’t blown away by any of the omissions, but I was mildly surprised by Oliver Drake’s inclusion. I didn’t realize that the Orioles valued him so highly. Then again, manager Buck Showalter referenced Drake multiple times over the summer after watching him pitch at Single-A Frederick and reading the reports on him.
Maybe that should have been a hint. Showalter was intrigued by Drake and might have offered an opinion.
Anyway, the 40-man roster will be full once Matt Antonelli, 26, passes his physical and signs. He’s the six-year minor league free agent that I referenced yesterday morning, though he’s signing a major league deal.
Antonelli, the 17th overall pick in the 2006 draft out of Wake Forest, played 86 of his 90 games at Triple-A Syracuse this season, batting 297 with 19 doubles, three triples, eight homers, 30 RBIs and an .853 OPS. He hit .193 in 57 at-bats with the Padres in 2008.
Because he can move around the infield, Antonelli will be a candidate to make the club in spring training as a utility player. I wouldn’t expect him to compete for a starting job, and definitely not at third base. The Orioles will want more power at the hot corner. His best shot would be second base if Brian Roberts can’t play.
Keep in mind that executive vice president Dan Duquette spoke a few days ago, while still at the GM meetings in Milwaukee, about wanting to “fill out” the bench. That’s why he reached out to Antonelli.
Antonelli could be the original non-starter version of Robert Andino - or a version of Brendan Harris or Nick Green, utility types who never surfaced in Baltimore. But he’s going to get a major league deal, so that counts for something.
The Orioles have made other offers to utility types, so there could be lots of competition for bench jobs.
I still think Jake Fox’s bat would have been useful - the man can run into a fastball like nobody’s business - but defense apparently counts, too.
Baseball America published another round of minor league transactions yesterday, and you’ll notice that Oakland signed former Orioles Jim Miller and Jeff Fiorentino, and the Pirates signed Jose Diaz.