Orioles roster seems to be nearing completion but hasn't necessarily reached that point

Gunnar Henderson home run chain black away

The Orioles ventured into the offseason with the stated goal of finding veteran starting pitching to supplement a collection of younger, promising arms with varying degrees of major league success, none of it sustained for significant periods. John Means is the undisputed ace but shelved by reconstructive surgery on his left elbow that could sideline him for the first half. The others showed flashes of becoming established in the rotation, some a little brighter than others.

Kyle Gibson signed a $10 million contract for 2023 and left-hander Cole Irvin was acquired in a trade with the Athletics, providing four years of team control and another consumer of innings. Perhaps a slight deviation from the club’s initial vision of how the free agent market would play out, though it wasn’t expressed publicly in exact terms.

The second tier wasn’t as much of a bargain as perceived early in the process, but the Orioles eventually were able to land their veterans, and at a much lower cost. Irvin hasn’t reached his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Never assume that the front office is done, even though the numbers – and these are available to the media – show an overflow of starters for a five-man rotation and could flood the bullpen.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias also prioritized left-handed bats for first base, second base and the corner outfielder. Players who also could contribute as the designated hitter.

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Irvin's entrance opens more questions about Orioles rotation

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The immediate reaction to yesterday’s Cole Irvin trade centered on whether he could start for the Orioles on opening day and how his arrival impacted the other rotation candidates.

All of this is according to an industry source with direct knowledge of my mind.

Also, can we confidently say now that the search is over – a nod to “Survivor” – and the Orioles relinquished interest in Michael Wacha and every other starter?

Space is really tight. They might have to build an addition onto the rotation. But never turn away from the spring waiver wire.

The Orioles don’t own a true No. 1 starter with John Means unavailable until probably June or July. Irvin doesn’t qualify, which appears to set up an intense and fascinating camp battle.

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Orioles add Irvin to camp rotation competition

elias cage

The Orioles succeeded today in finding a starting pitcher for their unsettled rotation, consummating a trade after failing to reach terms with a free agent.

Left-hander Cole Irvin and minor league pitcher Kyle Virbitsky were acquired from the Athletics for Single-A infielder Darell Hernaiz. Lefty reliever Darwinzon Hernandez was designated for assignment to make room for Irvin on the 40-man roster.

Irvin, who turns 29 on Tuesday, could be the only left-hander in the Orioles rotation on opening day with John Means recovering from Tommy John surgery and DL Hall a consideration for the bullpen. He’s made 62 starts over the past two seasons and posted a cumulative 4.11 ERA in 359 1/3 innings, with 1.8 walks and 6.4 strikeouts per nine frames in 2022.

The Orioles get more than durability with Irvin, who registered a career-low 3.98 ERA and 1.160 WHIP last year in 30 starts. He’s under team control through 2026.

The Phillies were the third team to draft Irvin, landing him in the fifth round in 2016 out of the University of Oregon. The Athletics acquired him in a cash deal on Jan. 30, 2021.

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Orioles avoid arbitration with Voth (updated)

voth day white

The Orioles finished their arbitration business today and proved again that the file-and-go approach has its exceptions.

Pitcher Austin Voth agreed to terms on a 2023 contract that also includes a club option for 2024. He’s the last of the six arbitration-eligible players to receive a new deal.

Terms weren’t immediately available. Voth sought $2 million after the sides exchanged figures on Jan. 13, and the club offered $1.7 million.

Voth, 30, is also eligible for arbitration next winter unless the Orioles pick up the option.

The Orioles claimed Voth off waivers from the Nationals on June 7 and it wasn’t viewed within the industry as an impact move. Voth was out of options, and he ran out of chances in D.C. after posting a 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances in 2022.

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This, that and the other


A week has passed since the Orioles made their last transaction, signing reliever Reed Garrett to a minor league contract. The 40-man roster hasn’t been impacted since they acquired left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the Red Sox for cash considerations on Jan. 11 and designated first baseman Lewin Díaz for assignment.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 15. The clock on the countdown is ticking louder. Some teams have declared that they’re unlikely to make any other moves, but the Orioles keep trying to find another veteran starting pitcher.

“We’re definitely not going to rest in terms of improving this roster before we leave for Sarasota,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said during Friday’s interview on 105.7 The Fan, “and even after we’re in Sarasota, sometimes things happen.”

They often happen.

Infielder Chris Owings, pitchers Chris Ellis and Conner Greene and catcher Beau Taylor were signed to minor league deals last March after the media arrived in Sarasota. Nothing impactful, as it turned out.

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Mullins on WBC: "It's a huge honor to be a part of this"

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Cedric Mullins will participate in the upcoming Orioles caravan, added to the list on Jan. 10, and report early to spring training in Sarasota before leaving camp to join Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

The Orioles aren’t done trying to make other moves to set their opening day roster, but Mullins is certain to roam center field and sit atop the order.

What’s new to Mullins is ramping up for WBC competition while leaving behind most of his teammates. Reliever Dillon Tate also was chosen for Team USA.

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s a huge honor to be a part of this,” Mullins said this week on MLB Network Radio.

“The last one being back in 2017, so a decent amount of time has passed. COVID kind of got in the way of that, as well, so it’s awesome to be amongst this group. Not only being competitive out there, but you’re preparing for the season, as well. It’s definitely going to be an experience.”

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Lining up some possibilities for Orioles batting order


A week remains in the month of January and I’m already seeing mock lineups posted online. They’re built upon a foundation of past orders and current assumptions.

I’ve done it with less.

Cedric Mullins is leading off for the Orioles, and that’s the only certainty on the team. He did it in 141 games last season – the club went 73-68 – and he’ll be missing at the top only if on the bench or perhaps on some occasions when he’s facing a tough left-hander.

Mullins batted .209/.265/.313 against southpaws last season, compared to .279/.340/.441 against right-handers.

Deciding on an actual opening day lineup is harder when the Red Sox haven’t announced their starter. Their rotation candidates include left-handers Chris Sale and James Paxson, and right-handers Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Corey Kluber and Brayan Bello.

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How do Orioles handle first base at Triple-A Norfolk?


The first order of business for the Orioles at spring training is finding 26 players to hop on the charter flight to Boston for opening day. Thirteen pitchers and 13 position players. No more questions about the composition of the rotation and bullpen, and which players join backup catcher James McCann and Ramón Urías or Adam Frazier on the bench.

The camp cuts also enable the Orioles to further stock the roster at Triple-A Norfolk. They have work to do down on the farm.

Lewin Díaz and Ryan O’Hearn were acquired to compete for the backup job at first base, with the latter also providing an option in right field. Two of the many left-handed bats brought into the organization.

The Orioles managed to get them through waivers – Díaz was the real challenge – and remove them from the 40-man roster. They’d be an easy fit with the Tides, who don’t have a first base prospect set to make the majority of starts.

Norfolk’s infield is expected to include Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby, though they will try to make the Orioles’ roster for the March 30 opener. Colton Cowser, the fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft, will be in the outfield and waiting for his inevitable promotion. Robert Neustrom returns, and the Orioles signed Franchy Cordero, Daz Cameron and Nomar Mazara to minor league contracts.

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Kremer talks about his workouts, season and cooking skills

Dean Kremer throw black home

Nothing has changed with the Orioles rotation as we enter a new week. The same group of candidates for five spots, led by … we don’t know.

The thought of an open competition really intrigues. Then again, so does a trade for a legitimate No. 1 starter, but don't leave a candle burning for Miami's Pablo López, because he's headed to the Twins.

Nothing on the free agent market is going to settle the issue. Michael Wacha isn’t the answer, but he’s been successful between stops on the injured list. He’d be a nice insurance policy while the Orioles hope for a continued upward trend with some of their younger arms. And that the road for top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is a smooth one.

Who really can say until he gets out there, takes the ball every five or six days and pushes himself beyond the number of games he grew accustomed to in the minors?

The Orioles will get back John Means at some point during the summer, perhaps before the All-Star break, certainly after it. They more easily can calculate what they’ll receive from veteran Kyle Gibson based on his 10 seasons in the majors, though they also trust that their studies of video and pitching program will bring out the best in him.

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Leftovers for breakfast

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A new top 101 baseball prospects ranking again gives lots of love to the Orioles, with eight players included on the list.

Just not the exact same eight that made Baseball America’s top 100 this week.

Baseball Prospectus also puts infielder Gunnar Henderson at No. 1 while he retains his eligibility. The two publications are in agreement here.

Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez is No. 8, shortstop Jackson Holliday is No. 9, outfielder Colton Cowser is No. 38, third baseman Coby Mayo is No. 69, infielder Jordan Westburg is No. 74, infielder Connor Norby is No. 82, and left-hander DL Hall is No. 95.

Not all lists are created equal, and we have another example of the inexact science.

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This, that and the other

kyler stowers upset black

The revelation this week that the Orioles led the majors with eight players ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, the most in franchise history, illustrated the massive gains made by a farm system that routinely drew heavy criticism for its light weight.

Only the second team to have two different players, catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson, ranked first in back-to-back years, after the Cardinals’ J.D. Drew in 1999 and Rick Ankiel in 2000. The first to do it in consecutive years with players from the same draft class.  

The appropriate and predictable focus fell upon the Big Eight: Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez (sixth), Jackson Holliday (15th), Colton Cowser (41st), DL Hall (75th), Jordan Westburg (76th), Connor Norby (93rd) and Joey Ortiz (95th).

Henderson will lose his prospect eligibility early this season. Happens to the best of them. Hall made his major league debut before Henderson and has an excellent chance to break camp with the team, so he’s also on the clock.

Norby and Ortiz shot into the top 100 with huge 2022 campaigns. They seemed neglected. Ortiz is rated 17th in MLBPipeline’s top 30 Orioles prospects.

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Orioles sign Garrett to minor league deal

Reed Garret Nationals throwing

The competition for bullpen spots on the Orioles roster got a little deeper this morning.

The club announced that it signed right-hander Reed Garrett to a minor league contract, which could put him on the list of spring training invites.

Pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 15, with the first workout held the following day.

Garrett, 30, made seven relief appearances with the Nationals last season and allowed seven earned runs (eight total) with 13 hits, eight walks and six strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. The Richmond native had his contract selected on June 14 after a three-year absence from the majors.

The Nationals used Garrett in three June games and three more in July. He served as the 29th man in an Oct. 4 doubleheader and tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mets.

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More spring training curiosities in Orioles camp

Anthony Bemboom throw black

How the rotation and bullpens are constructed, with the first influencing the second, are the biggest spring training curiosities for me and many others. The final bench spot must be monitored, with a non-roster, left-handed hitting first baseman hoping to crash the opening day party in Boston.

I’ve already filled this space with some spring training storylines. Here’s a recent story.

What else is worthy of our attention besides the exhilarating pitchers fielding practice and bunt drills?

I’ll take a swing at it with some quick hits.

Every Kyle Gibson side session and appearance is noteworthy because the Orioles gave him $10 million guaranteed, their largest deal since hiring Mike Elias, and he could move near or at the top of the rotation. They expect more out of him than just innings, though they'll gladly take those, as well. He's bound to draw comparisons to Jordan Lyles, the pitcher he basically is replacing.

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Díaz dives into Orioles non-roster pool


The Orioles found out yesterday that Lewin Díaz would remain in the organization after he cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Díaz was designated for assignment again a week ago. He may or may not have been told.

Who wants to make that phone call?

But seriously …

Getting Díaz through waivers, which has been harder than AP calculus, increased the list of non-roster invites to spring training that hasn’t been finalized.

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Díaz stays with Orioles after clearing waivers


The Lewin Díaz saga might finally be over.

The Orioles announced today that Díaz cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He stays in the organization.

The outcome allows the Orioles to bring Díaz and Ryan O’Hearn to spring training as non-roster invites competing for the backup job at first base. O’Hearn passed through waivers last week and accepted his outright.

Díaz has been a man on the move since the season ended. It's become his unintended claim to fame.

The Marlins designated Díaz for assignment on Nov. 15 and the Pirates claimed him off waivers on the 22nd. He was designated again on Nov. 30 and the Orioles claimed him two days later.

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John Angelos: "I think we're headed in the right direction"


The importance of the Orioles to the city of Baltimore, how tightly the orange and black threads are woven into its fabric, shouldn’t need to be proven or reiterated. It’s as plain as the brick building behind the right field flag court at Camden Yards.

Still, it’s nice to hear.

It’s also vital for the folks who carry deep scars from the Colts burning them with the move to Indianapolis 39 years ago.

Mayor Brandon Scott didn’t mention the Colts by name at yesterday’s press conference to announce the Orioles’ $5 million donation to the non-profit CollegeBound Foundation, but the baseball team’s commitment to the city stood as a stark contrast to Robert Irsay’s slurred promises to stay that were built on lies.

Scott called chairman and CEO John Angelos and the Orioles “a true partner to the city of Baltimore.”

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O's make $5 million donation to CollegeBound Foundation; Angelos repeats team isn't moving


The long-term commitment to the city of Baltimore that Orioles ownership has preached and promised throughout rumors of a potential sale or relocation was reiterated this morning via a sizeable financial donation to a local nonprofit organization.

The point was driven home in tones ranging from mostly celebratory to somewhat heated during a 25-minute news conference.

Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos, in a rare public appearance, and Mayor Brandon Scott gathered on the sixth floor of the B&O warehouse to announce a $5 million commitment to CollegeBound Foundation in support of “the next Baltimore renaissance.”

The CollegeBound Foundation, in existence for 35 years, is a multi-year support network dedicated to leading Baltimore City public school graduates through college by offering academic and personal guidance, empowering these students to successfully pursue and complete a college degree or other post-secondary options.

The Orioles also are providing paid internships to former city students and current College Completion Program scholars.

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This, that and the other


The Orioles completed most of their arbitration business on Friday and made another sizeable splash two days later in the international market.

There isn’t much left to do besides get the camp roster ready for spring training.

Austin Voth is the only player among the six arbitration eligibles who didn’t agree to terms. He’s seeking $2 million and the Orioles countered at $1.7 million.

A hearing could be held in late January or February, with a three-person panel determining the salary. There are no compromises if it reaches this stage.

Voth would be an interesting case given the splits in his season between the Nationals and Orioles. The 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances versus the 3.04 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 22 games (17 starts) for a team that contended until the final week.

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Sifting through spring training storylines as report date nears

hall frustrated white

The offseason is melting away like Frosty. Not quite a puddle, but it’s getting mushier.

(I’m still wondering why Santa Claus left Karen on the roof of her house rather than dropping her off at the front door. She should have demanded to speak with his manager. But I digress …)

The report date for Orioles pitchers and catchers is exactly one month away. A few days earlier for Dillon Tate (Team USA) and Dean Kremer (Team Israel) as they ready for the World Baseball Classic and are marked as absent in camp.

The Orioles already have them pegged for the 26-man roster on opening day. The only concern is how they’ll ramp up earlier than normal, which in theory could make them more vulnerable to an injury. Manager Brandon Hyde will wave goodbye with fingers crossed.

Knowing how close we are to a Sarasota dateline creates another round of camp curiosities, which I’m formulating this weekend between NFL playoff games.

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Taking the Orioles rotation for another spin

Dean Kremer throws gray

The depth in the Orioles rotation stacks up “pretty well,” one talent evaluator phrased it recently, when tracking starter candidates fourth through seventh. The back end and overflow.

Potential exists for higher grades. And to be in good hands from top to bottom if small sample sizes prove accurate in the longer term.

The Orioles are hoping that there really is strength in numbers.

They don’t have an established No. 1, 2 or 3 starter, but they want to further explore the group that includes Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, Tyler Wells, Grayson Rodriguez and DL Hall. This can be done with or without another veteran acquisition to go with Kyle Gibson, who’s normally a fourth or fifth.

The club is maintaining its quest for someone with previous experience as a 1, 2 or even a 3, judging by the range of its search. Michael Wacha is the most appealing of the remaining free agents and the Orioles have kept their interest in him. He’s coming off an 11-2 season with a 3.32 ERA and 1.115 WHIP in 23 starts for the Red Sox, but maintaining good health and staying on the mound has been an issue.

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