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.
Díaz joins another left-handed hitting first baseman, Ryan O’Hearn, who also plays right field and has accepted his outright. One of them would have a shot at breaking camp with the team as Ryan Mountcastle’s backup.
Twenty-two players were invited to camp last spring, the announcement delayed until March 13 due to the lockout. Catcher Anthony Bemboom beat out Jacob Nottingham for the backup job. Pitcher Spenser Watkins became the No. 5 starter but wasn’t on the opening day roster.
Infielder Chris Owings made it, but he signed his minor league deal with an invite on March 15.
The 2021 spring training was redesigned as a byproduct of the pandemic. Only 10 players received invites, but 22 were designated as camp reserves.
Non-roster invites this spring will find it more difficult to head north on a 26-man roster. The Orioles aren’t totally set, especially with the front office still searching for a veteran starter and maybe a defense-first corner outfielder, but the projected starters and backups easily could be players already on the 40-man.
Let’s go around the starting outfield: Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander.
Let’s go with one possibility for the starting infield: Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo, Adam Frazier/Ramon Urias, Ryan Mountcastle.
Adley Rutschman is the catcher. Kyle Stowers can serve as the designated hitter in this exercise.
A four-man bench can be comprised of backup catcher James McCann, Frazier or Urías based on the lineup, outfielder Ryan McKenna and infielder/outfielder Terrin Vavra.
For this to work, the backup first baseman would need to be a group effort with guys like Vavra, Santander, Rutschman and McCann. Otherwise, the door opens for O’Hearn, Díaz, Franchy Cordero or Josh Lester.
Non-roster outfielders Nomar Mazara, also a left-handed hitter, and Daz Cameron will be in camp. Mazara signed a minor league deal. The Orioles claimed Cameron off waivers from the Tigers in November, got him through waivers and outrighted him.
Catchers row must be filled in the clubhouse because of the large number of pitchers doing side work. Bemboom, Mark Kolozsvary and Randy Florentino are on Norfolk’s roster. Double-A Bowie's Maverick Handley also should make it to camp.
Prospects receiving a look on the major league side could include outfielder Colton Cowser and infielders Jordan Westburg, Connor Norby and Coby Mayo. Outfielder Robert Neustrom could return to the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Outfielder Heston Kjerstad, the second-overall draft pick in 2020, could receive an invite now that he’s back in good health. Infielders Greg Cullen, Cadyn Grenier, Adam Hall and César Prieto at least are in the discussion, and there are other position players deserving of consideration.
Left-hander Zac Lowther and right-hander Chris Vallimont fell off the 40-man roster but probably will make it to spring training with the Orioles. Ryan Watson was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Cole Uvila had a 3.48 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 44 innings with Norfolk and didn’t surrender a home run.
Ofreidy Gómez, Wandisson Charles, Eduard Bazardo and Kyle Dowdy signed minor league deals in December, so they, too, could be at the Ed Smith Stadium complex.
Being in Boston on opening day is less likely.