I’m old enough to remember when the Orioles didn’t have any catchers on their 40-man roster.
OK, that was earlier this year. But I remember.
Pedro Severino and Nick Ciuffo were the holdovers in November after Austin Wynns had been outrighted and declared for free agency. And then they were gone, too.
Robinson Chirinos agreed to a one-year, $900,000 contract in March. Anthony Bemboom made the club in spring training after signing a minor league deal. And everyone waited until the Orioles selected Adley Rutschman’s contract, which removed Bemboom from the 40-man roster.
Bemboom has returned to it. The Orioles selected his contract on Oct. 6 and signed him to a one-year deal on Wednesday, a split contract like most of them under these circumstances, with his salary based on whether he’s in the majors or minors.
Bemboom is out of options and can decline an outright assignment if the Orioles put him back on waivers.
The current count is six catchers, with Chirinos waiting until the World Series ends to enter free agency. Five still is a lot. Names will drop off the list as the Orioles get down to some serious roster work.
Jordan Lyles, Rougned Odor and Jesús Aguilar can join Chirinos on the free agent market, removing them from the 40-man. But the Orioles hold an $11 million option on Lyles’ contract.
Pitchers John Means and Chris Ellis are on the 60-day injured list. Means is guaranteed to leave it and go back on the 40-man. Ellis’ future in the organization isn’t as clear.
Some prospects must be protected in the Rule 5 draft, headed by Grayson Rodriguez and Joey Ortiz. Drew Rom and Seth Johnson, recovering from Tommy John surgery after the Orioles acquired him from the Rays on Aug. 1, also are eligible. And Noah Denoyer, who registered a 2.61 ERA and 0.794 WHIP with 12 strikeouts per nine innings in 14 games with Double-A Bowie, is one of the bubble guys who seems to have a decent shot at going on the 40-man.
This is the roster in its current full form:
Gallagher was claimed on waivers from the Padres on Sept. 11 and didn’t play for the Orioles, though he joined the taxi squad. Garcia and Kolozsvary arrived together last week as waiver claims from the Reds.
The Orioles could attempt to pass at least a few of them through waivers later to keep them in the organization as spring training invites. Just one of the possibilities when a team has five catchers on the 40-man.
Jacob Nottingham and Brett Cumberland are the only catchers listed on Triple-A Norfolk’s roster. Nottingham could leave via free agency. Cumberland again is eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Depth is targeted every offseason.
Garcia is arbitration-eligible for the first time and he’s out of options. He missed almost three months with a fractured left middle finger.
Bowie’s roster includes catcher Maverick Handley, who could be protected in the Rule 5 draft after posting a .352 on-base percentage in 78 games and finishing with 12 doubles, 11 home runs and 45 RBIs. He threw out 29 percent of runners attempting to steal and has thrown out 43 percent in three minor league seasons.
Cave was claimed from the Twins on Oct. 11, another outfielder on a team that’s well-stocked with them and could swing a trade over the winter. He might be insurance in case the herd thins. He could be gone before spring training or opening day.
Among the 19 pitchers, Vallimont is the biggest curiosity and mystery for me.
The Orioles claimed him on waivers from the Twins on May 25 and he made 16 appearances with Norfolk, including 12 starts. They kept bringing up pitchers but skipped Vallimont, who finished with a 5.38 ERA in 72 innings with the Tides. He allowed one run and struck out 18 batters in 13 innings with Bowie.
Pitchers Anthony Castro, Jake Reed, Louis Head and Beau Sulser already came off the 40-man this month, with the Red Sox claiming Reed on waivers and the Pirates taking back Sulser. Castro declined the outright and became a free agent.