Two moves made by the Orioles in the offseason put players on the 40-man roster who are out of minor league options.
Left-hander Tucker Davidson, who signed a one-year contract last week, cleared outright waivers yesterday and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. Outfielder Sam Hilliard will try to avoid the waiver wire as the Orioles create more space for future transactions. He also can’t be sent down without going through the process.
The Orioles depend on flexibility that allows for a roster churn, the shuffling done especially to freshen the bullpen. But there are numerous relievers who have run out of options.
The list includes left-handers Danny Coulombe, Cionel Pérez and Cole Irvin, and right-handers Jacob Webb and Mike Baumann.
Irvin made 12 starts and 12 relief appearances, and the Orioles haven’t said whether he’s viewed in one role next summer. Baumann was told late in camp that he’d be used strictly in relief and in fewer innings, and there’s no reason to deviate from that plan moving forward.
Félix Bautista has three options but won’t pitch in 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and the Orioles wouldn’t do that to him anyway. Left-handers DL Hall, Nick Vespi, Keegan Akin and Bruce Zimmermann and right-hander Bryan Baker are down to one. Yennier Cano, Tyler Wells and Dillon Tate have two.
Tate didn’t pitch this season due to forearm and elbow injuries. Akin didn’t pitch for the Orioles after June 28 because of a back injury. Both are arbitration eligible.
Hall and Wells are possibilities for the rotation depending on the Orioles’ winter business. They want a starter for the upper portion of their rotation – not necessarily a No. 1 – and a reliever with closing experience.
Important among the position players is outfielder Ryan McKenna being out of options. He’s a shuttle guy who lost his pass.
He’s also arbitration eligible, with MLBTradeRumors projecting a modest bump in salary. The Orioles must decide by Friday whether to tender him a contract.
Infielders Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías, both waiting on whether they’re tendered contracts, are out of options. The same situation as last winter. And they’re being pressed by the prospects.
Ryan O’Hearn has one option remaining, which could be useful if he slips into a prolonged slump. He was an important contributor this season and a finalist for Comeback Player of the Year, but must prove that he can do the same in 2024.
Outfielder Austin Hays still has an option. It’s still hard to envision the Orioles sending him to Triple-A.
Infielder Terrin Vavra has one option left after breaking camp with the team, appearing in 27 games and sustaining an injury to his right shoulder that kept him from playing for Norfolk after June 14. He also was outrighted to Norfolk yesterday.
Vavra made two appearances with Single-A Delmarva on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 and was shut down again. Now he's off the 40-man roster. Baseball can be fickle.
* The Cy Young Award winners will be announced tonight on MLB Network. The Yankees' Gerrit Cole is the overwhelming favorite in the American League.
Kyle Bradish isn’t a finalist, but his name appeared on some of the five-pitcher ballots. Let’s see how many.
* Hyde won the AL Manager of the Year Award last night to go with his two honors from The Sporting News in the past two years. I wrote about it here.
The Rangers' Bruce Bochy received three first place votes - from The Kansas City Star's Vahe Gregorian, the Associated Press' Joe Reedy and Rangers Today's Jeff Wilson. The rest went to Hyde.
Hyde said his most important managerial quality since his hiring might be patience, though he laughed when recalling nights that he lost it.
Consistency around his players also stands out.
"I think I hid a lot of things from them in a good way," he said. "I always have enjoyed the atmosphere that we've created, and they've had a big part in that. They've enjoyed the coaching staff. I wanted them to know that I was always going to be OK and that we were going to be consistent, we were eventually going to be good. I didn't want them to see me be too up, too down. Now, those times happen for sure, but a guy (Joe Maddon) that presented the award is really who I learned that from the most. That how important consistency is and how important honesty is, and that's what players need and want."
The Orioles have come a long way from being underdogs, a status they shed like fur. Does the mentality and approach change?
"No. I think our guys are going to embrace it, honestly," Hyde replied.
"I think that they're going to come in with a chip on their shoulder a little bit with how things ended. I know I am. We're really proud of the regular season we had and we want to take that next step. I think everybody getting the experience of what that felt like to end the season the way it did, it's going to fuel a lot of our guys into next year."
Update: Bradish finished fourth in Cy Young voting with 39 points. He received six third-place votes, eight fourth and five fifth.
Cole was the unanimous winner, followed by Sonny Gray and former Oriole Kevin Gausman.
Orioles closer Félix Bautista was 11th with three fifth-place votes. He would have finished higher if he hadn't injured his elbow in Aug. 25 and required Tommy John surgery.
Bradish is the first Oriole to receive votes since Zack Britton in 2016. Britton also was fourth.
Steve Stone remains the last Orioles Cy Young winner in 1980.
Bradish started Game 1 of the Division Series and could receive the 2024 Opening Day assignment depending on the club's offseason business and spring training. The Orioles are seeking a starter who slots near or at the top.