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.
Irvin posted ERAs of 3.90 and 3.07 in 32 home starts after joining Oakland, and ERAs of 4.57 and 5.26 in 30 road starts.
To be determined is which starter is most impacted in camp by Irvin’s arrival. Kyle Gibson, signed to a $10 million deal, is vying for the March 30 start in Boston. Dean Kremer, Kyle Bradish, Tyler Wells and Grayson Rodriguez are heavy in the mix, and Hall will be stretched out while making his bid.
Hall could go back to the same relief role he handled in September. Other starting candidates on the current 40-man roster include Austin Voth, Bruce Zimmermann, Spenser Watkins and Mike Baumann.
Virbitsky, 24, is listed at 6-feet-7 and 235 pounds. Oakland selected him in the 17th round out of Penn State in 2021 and he’s registered a 4.49 ERA and 1.342 WHIP in 30 games (25 starts). He’s averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
Pitching for two Single-A affiliates last year, Virbitsky struck out 140 batters in 126 1/3 innings.
Hernaiz, 21, was expendable due to the glut of middle infield prospects. MLBPipeline.com ranked him 16th in the system.
The Orioles drafted Hernaiz in the fifth round in 2019 out of Americas High School in El Paso, Texas. He played at three levels last season, ending at Double-A Bowie, and hit a collective .273/.341/.438 with 21 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs, 62 RBIs and 32 stolen bases in 36 attempts over 105 games.
Hernandez was acquired from the Red Sox earlier this month for cash considerations. He could slip through waivers and come to spring training as a non-roster invite.
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