Orioles working to convince another catcher to come to Baltimore

The Orioles are keeping two openings on their 40-man roster as they get closer to the Thanksgiving holiday shutdown.

This isn’t a mandated quiet period. It just typically works out that way.

Thanksgiving 2005 was an insane exception. The Marlins traded Carlos Delgado to the Mets and Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota to the Red Sox for Hanley Ramírez, Aníbal Sánchez, and two others.

Reporters covering the Marlins almost tossed their turkey.

(The judges also would have accepted “yacked their yams”)

There must be at least one vacancy for the Orioles to participate in the Dec. 7 Rule 5 draft in San Diego. They won’t go the rest of the offseason with just one other addition. More alterations are coming from executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias.

A second catcher might not be placed on the 40-man roster until late in spring training if the Orioles don’t sign one to a major league deal.

They had six on the roster after claiming Aramis Garcia and Mark Kolozsvary off waivers from the Reds on Oct. 14. I couldn’t tell you the last time they reached that total, since trying to look it up seems like a monumental task and it isn’t that important.

Adley Rutschman is the last man squatting. Anthony Bemboom signed a one-year deal and accepted an outright assignment. Kolozsvary also was outrighted. They’re the only catchers listed on Triple-A Norfolk’s roster.

Garcia and Cam Gallagher elected free agency after passing through outright waivers. Robinson Chirinos became a free agent five days after the World Series.

The Orioles didn’t protect Double-A Bowie catcher Maverick Handley in the Rule 5 draft, but he isn’t a backup candidate breaking camp.

The trick in major league free agency is finding a veteran with plus-defensive skills who’s content to caddie for Rutschman. And the Rookie of the Year runner-up is going to play more than he did this season, with the Orioles freed of any worries about the triceps injury.

Rutschman can be used as the designated hitter to provide some rest and keep his bat in the lineup, but he’s going to be a fixture behind the plate and any backup will need to settle for a much smaller role.

Chirinos isn’t really a fair comparison because he signed in March, with no indication that a healthy Rutschman would be the starter on opening day. He was the projected regular when the ink dried, with Bemboom and Jacob Nottingham vying for the backup job, and it became a certainty with Rutschman’s injury revealed a few days later.

The replacement for Chirinos will know exactly what he’s getting.

Baseball Savant ranked Chirinos as the worst pitch framer among 60 in 2022. Kevin Plawecki, who’s a free agent, was 26th.

The Orioles would like to get more offense out of the position than Chirinos’ .179/.265/.287 line, though upgrades in other areas could lessen the importance of it. A black hole at the bottom doesn’t seem as dangerous.

They’d love the same clubhouse leadership.

They’ll invite Bemboom and Kolozsvary to spring training and work to increase the competition for a job that won’t appeal to everyone.  

* Former Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy is among 14 new candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot, which was mailed yesterday to eligible voters in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Hardy played parts of 13 seasons in the majors and batted .256/.305/.408 with 291 doubles, 14 triples, 188 home runs and 688 RBIs in 1,561 games. He made two All-Star teams and won three Gold Glove Awards and one Silver Slugger Award.

The last seven seasons were spent with the Orioles. Hardy batted .252/.293/.398 with 168 doubles, three triples, 107 home runs and 385 RBIs, won all three of his Gold Gloves in consecutive years, and also earned his Silver Slugger and made the All-Star team in 2013.

Hardy was the leader of the infield during the period when the Orioles ended their streak of losing seasons at 14 and made the playoffs in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

The other newcomers are Carlos Beltrán, John Lackey, Jered Weaver R.A. Dickey, Huston Street, Francisco Rodríguez, Bronson Arroyo, Matt Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jayson Werth, Mike Napoli, Jhonny Peralta and Andre Ethier.

Candidates must be named on 75 percent of ballots to earn induction during the weekend of July 21-24, 2023, in Cooperstown, N.Y. Ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 31, and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Barry Bonds (66 percent), Roger Clemens (65.2) and Schilling (58.6) ran out of eligibility and will be considered next month by the Contemporary Baseball Era Players Committee. Scott Rolen (63.2), Todd Helton (52.0) and Billy Wagner (51.0) remain on the ballot.

Players must receive at least five percent of the votes.

Other holdovers include Jeff Kent, who was named on 32.7 percent of ballots last year, Mark Buehrle, Andy Pettitte, Jimmy Rollins, Álex Rodríguez, Omar Vizquel, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramírez and Gary Sheffield.

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