Rewinding an Orioles roster review

Among the inconveniences of baseball's lockout is the delay in attacking roster deficiencies with major league free agent signings.

Get ready for the frenzy of activity after a new collective bargaining agreement is in place, with teams racing through the green light at speeds that could leave many competitors in the dust.

The Orioles tossed a starting pitcher and second baseman in their cart before the market closed. Jordan Lyles isn't listed on the 40-man roster, which holds at 38, because he needs to take his physical and put his name on a contract. But he's counted as a purchase.

The club could reach for another veteran arm rather than leave the other three spots in the rotation to a collection of unproven starters, with the competition including Bruce Zimmermann, Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, Alexander Wells, Mike Baumann and Spenser Watkins - the latter re-signed to a minor league deal.

Only John Means and Lyles are sure bets to be in Baltimore on opening day.

At least one reliever is expected to be signed or selected in the postponed, not canceled, Rule 5 draft. The bullpen isn't loaded with sure bets, but there are bold assumptions that the Orioles break camp with closer Tyler Wells, Cole Sulser, Jorge López (if he isn't starting), Dillon Tate, and left-handers Paul Fry and Tanner Scott.

Disastrous performances in spring training, paired with minor league options, can blow up the projections.

If we assume that manager Brandon Hyde carries a seven-man bullpen, and the six relievers mentioned above head to Baltimore, the last spot can go to a late acquisition, one of the failed starters who can be used in a bulk role, or someone who emerges from a group that includes Joey Krehbiel, Isaac Mattson, Félix Bautista, Logan Gillaspie, Cionel Pérez, Marcos Diplán or Bryan Baker.

Diplán would have to make the team as a non-roster invite. Pérez would be a third left-hander, if that's what Hyde wants.

Baker has thrown only one major league inning, for the Blue Jays on Sept. 5, but he went 6-1 with a 1.31 ERA and 0.847 WHIP in 39 relief appearances with Triple-A Buffalo. He struck out 48 batters and surrendered only one home run in 41 1/3 innings.

Baker has registered a 3.18 ERA in five minor league seasons and averages 10.3 strikeouts and 0.9 home runs per nine innings, but also 4.2 walks. He isn't assured of staying on the 40-man roster if room is needed and he ranks as a longshot to make the club, but he should be mentioned.

Hyde-Hoodie-Mask-on-Chin-Sidebar.jpgSure bets are missing among the catchers, especially with the position marked absent on the 40-man. Jacob Nottingham and Anthony Bemboom signed minor league deals and at least one more is expected to be offered to a free agent. Adley Rutschman could return to Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles might take a catcher in the Rule 5 draft.

Does it sound weird to consider Ryan Mountcastle the only sure bet in the infield?

I hesitate to label Trey Mancini the same because of the slim possibility that he's traded. Mountcastle isn't going anywhere. You know it, I know it, the American people know it.

Rougned Odor should be the second baseman, with the Orioles paying the major league minimum, but a terrible camp could cost him, as it did Yolmer Sánchez last spring. Ramón Urías is a heavy favorite to make the club as the shortstop or a super-utility player, but a sure bet? I can't go there.

Kelvin Gutiérrez probably would be the third baseman if the season started today. It does not. The job hasn't been handed to him.

Jorge Mateo should get a long look in camp. The spring training roster also will include Jahmai Jones, Richie Martin and Tyler Nevin. You can rank their chances of making the club. It's a reach to assume any of them already have a spot on it.

Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays will comprise two-thirds of the outfield. It's a lock. And Anthony Santander is in right field unless he's traded.

I'm expecting them to be in the opening day lineup. I just hesitate to label Santander as a sure bet because of previous interest in him and a salary that has risen to $3.15 million.

Go ahead, though, if you must. You're probably right.

DJ Stewart and Ryan McKenna can be extra outfielders on the roster. Nevin will try to push one of them aside, but is more likely to go back to Triple-A.

A veteran outfielder could be signed before opening day. We've seen a few stroll into camp over the years.

Another sampling of spring storylines
News has been expectedly slow in Birdland
 

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