The left-handed hitter carousel keeps spinning for the Orioles.
Lewin Díaz has made a full circle, coming back to the organization this afternoon in a waiver claim from the Braves.
The Orioles claimed Díaz from the Pirates on Dec. 2, providing another candidate to back up Ryan Mountcastle at first base, but they designated him for assignment after signing reliever Mychal Givens and traded him to Atlanta on Dec. 23 for cash considerations.
A turbulent winter continues for Díaz, who’s involved in his fourth transaction since the conclusion of the 2022 season.
Ryan O’Hearn is at least temporarily out of the running for the backup job. The Orioles designated him for assignment today to create room for Díaz on the 40-man roster.
An unexpected turn of events.
O’Hearn was acquired from the Royals on Tuesday for cash considerations. He became an alternative at first base and in the corner outfield, having made 31 starts in right, but he’s now vulnerable to a waiver claim or trade.
The Orioles could try to get him through waivers and bring him to spring training.
The Royals avoided arbitration with O’Hearn by signing him to a $1.4 million contract for 2023. His stay on the Orioles' payroll could be brief.
Díaz is a 6-foot-4, 217-pounder from the Dominican Republic who’s batted .181/.227/.340 with 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 27 RBIs, 19 walks and 99 strikeouts in 112 games and 343 plate appearances over the past three seasons. He slashed .169/.224/.288 last year with four doubles, five homers, 11 RBIs, 11 walks and 54 strikeouts in 58 games during three stints with the Marlins.
The Twins gave Díaz a $1.4 million bonus as part of their 2013-14 international signing class and traded him to Miami in 2019 for pitchers Sergio Romo and Chris Vallimont. The Orioles claimed Vallimont off waivers from the Twins in May and designated him for assignment Tuesday to make room for O’Hearn.
Heads also are spinning.
Díaz is a plus defender at first base with 16 defensive runs saved and nine outs above average in the majors. He’s a .263/.322/.469 hitter in eight minor league seasons, and he had 19 doubles, 19 home runs and 64 RBIs last summer in 82 games with Triple-A Jacksonville.
Note: Left-hander Nick Vespi underwent successful hernia surgery this morning at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, according to the team. Dr. Russell Novak handled the procedure.
Vespi will begin rehabbing in Sarasota next week and the Orioles expect him to be available for the early part of the season. They don't have an exact timeline.
Vespi didn't allow an earned run in 28 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk. He appeared in 25 games with the Orioles as a rookie and went 5-0 with a 4.10 ERA in 26 1/3 innings.
The surgery appears to remove him from consideration for the opening day bullpen.