Setting the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft won’t necessarily be the first order of business for the Orioles’ reconstructed front office, with the non-tender deadline set for Nov. 30, but it’s going to involve more heavy lifting.
The roster is full and the Orioles need to create room for pitchers Dillon Tate and Branden Kline, who are assured of making it. Catcher Martin Cervenka and left-hander Luis Gonzalez also are expected to have spots open to them.
As I’ve pointed out in the past, five players on the 60-day disabled list also must be added if the Orioles want to hold onto them - pitchers Richard Bleier, Pedro Araujo and Gabriel Ynoa and outfielders Mark Trumbo and Austin Hays. Ynoa is the only one in the group who could be let go.
Adam Jones is the only pending free agent who will be subtracted. And we haven’t included players who are signed or acquired in trades.
Here’s the current roster:
Mike Wright Jr.
There’s always a risk tied to speculating about roster moves, and it grows with the Orioles still in the process of hiring a president of baseball operations and GM type. Fresh eyes and evaluators could elevate or lower a player’s status.
Susac was on thin ice before the Orioles removed Dan Duquette as executive vice president and Buck Showalter as manager, and I still expect it to crack beneath his feet. Cervenka would keep the Orioles at four catchers unless Caleb Joseph is non-tendered.
Corban Joseph was designated for assignment earlier this summer and likely will come off the roster again. Andreoli was a Duquette acquisition and becomes more vulnerable with the forthcoming hires. Vielma underwent knee surgery and also could be designated.
Hart rode the shuttle so many times this summer that it now bears his name. He hasn’t been able to get back to the form that made him such an effective lefty specialist in 2016, reducing his appearances with the Orioles from 51 last summer to only 20. He allowed 12 earned runs (13 total) and 31 hits with 12 walks in 19 1/3 innings. Left-handers have hit .132, .273 and .333 against him in three seasons.
Right-handers hit .390 this year, another reason why Hart couldn’t extend his stays in the majors. And why he’s also vulnerable.
* Left-hander Chris Lee came off the 40-man this summer after clearing waivers, his prospect status crumbling due to lat, oblique and shoulder injuries. The Orioles re-signed him in September and he can be claimed in the Rule 5 draft.
Lee is starting for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the Arizona Fall League, and he tossed four scoreless innings Wednesday night, with only two hits allowed and four strikeouts. He hasn’t surrendered a run in six innings, though he’s issued four walks.
The Orioles determined that Lee was better suited to pitch in relief, but again, new executives and scouts could view him differently. I know that his vision problem - he’s legally blind in his right eye and must wear protective glasses - has been an organizational concern.
* As I fight through the fatigue that strikes after covering another full baseball season, which came after a full seven weeks of spring training, I keep my mind sharp by trying to recite the names of every ex-Oriole who’s on a playoff roster.
Just off the top of my head, there’s Nick Markakis, Manny Machado, Justin Turner, Jonathan Schoop, Steve Pearce, Ryan Flaherty, Gerardo Parra, Kevin Gausman, Rich Hill, Eduardo Rodríguez, Wade Miley, Zach Davies, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Josh Hader, Brad Brach and Pedro Strop.
Davies was a late addition as left-hander Gio Gonzalez’s replacement on the Brewers’ pitching staff. The Orioles traded him on July 31, 2015, picking up Parra for the pennant race. That one backfired.
If we’re really trying to unearth former Orioles, Astros first base coach Alex Cintron appeared in 61 games with them back in 2008. He was the Astros’ Spanish translator, advance scout and assistant coach before replacing Rich Dauer, the former Orioles second baseman who retired after undergoing brain surgery.