Orioles roster seems to be nearing completion but hasn't necessarily reached that point

Gunnar Henderson home run chain black away

The Orioles ventured into the offseason with the stated goal of finding veteran starting pitching to supplement a collection of younger, promising arms with varying degrees of major league success, none of it sustained for significant periods. John Means is the undisputed ace but shelved by reconstructive surgery on his left elbow that could sideline him for the first half. The others showed flashes of becoming established in the rotation, some a little brighter than others.

Kyle Gibson signed a $10 million contract for 2023 and left-hander Cole Irvin was acquired in a trade with the Athletics, providing four years of team control and another consumer of innings. Perhaps a slight deviation from the club’s initial vision of how the free agent market would play out, though it wasn’t expressed publicly in exact terms.

The second tier wasn’t as much of a bargain as perceived early in the process, but the Orioles eventually were able to land their veterans, and at a much lower cost. Irvin hasn’t reached his first year of arbitration eligibility.

Never assume that the front office is done, even though the numbers – and these are available to the media – show an overflow of starters for a five-man rotation and could flood the bullpen.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias also prioritized left-handed bats for first base, second base and the corner outfielder. Players who also could contribute as the designated hitter.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Lefty Cole Irvin talks about joining the Orioles

camden yards

New Orioles lefty pitcher Cole Irvin has quickly adjusted to the fact that he woke up yesterday an Oakland Athletic and ended the day a Baltimore Oriole. He said he enjoyed conversations Friday with manager Brandon Hyde and pitching coach Chris Holt. He’s excited to see what the O’s coaches can offer him.

And when Oakland played in Baltimore last September, he took note of the talent in the other dugout that was on its way to 83 wins.

“I’m excited,” Irvin said during a Zoom call with Baltimore media this morning. “The first thing that came to my mind when I got the call, when we faced Baltimore at the end of the season, is how many plays Gunnar Henderson made that series. That kid’s jersey was dirty by the end of the first inning, top to bottom.

“I’m excited. It’s a young group. It’s going to be a lot of fun, there is so much talent. Just the difference from ’21 to ’22 was a visible difference. Excited to kind of get involved with the organization a little more, get to know the fans. There is a lot to be excited about.”

The Orioles acquired Irvin and Single-A right-hander Kyle Virbitsky Friday for minor league shortstop Darell Hernaiz.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Irvin's entrance opens more questions about Orioles rotation

Tyler Wells throwing front gray

The immediate reaction to yesterday’s Cole Irvin trade centered on whether he could start for the Orioles on opening day and how his arrival impacted the other rotation candidates.

All of this is according to an industry source with direct knowledge of my mind.

Also, can we confidently say now that the search is over – a nod to “Survivor” – and the Orioles relinquished interest in Michael Wacha and every other starter?

Space is really tight. They might have to build an addition onto the rotation. But never turn away from the spring waiver wire.

The Orioles don’t own a true No. 1 starter with John Means unavailable until probably June or July. Irvin doesn’t qualify, which appears to set up an intense and fascinating camp battle.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles add Irvin to camp rotation competition

elias cage

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.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles avoid arbitration with Voth (updated)

voth day white

The Orioles finished their arbitration business today and proved again that the file-and-go approach has its exceptions.

Pitcher Austin Voth agreed to terms on a 2023 contract that also includes a club option for 2024. He’s the last of the six arbitration-eligible players to receive a new deal.

Terms weren’t immediately available. Voth sought $2 million after the sides exchanged figures on Jan. 13, and the club offered $1.7 million.

Voth, 30, is also eligible for arbitration next winter unless the Orioles pick up the option.

The Orioles claimed Voth off waivers from the Nationals on June 7 and it wasn’t viewed within the industry as an impact move. Voth was out of options, and he ran out of chances in D.C. after posting a 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances in 2022.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

This, that and the other

left-field-wall

A week has passed since the Orioles made their last transaction, signing reliever Reed Garrett to a minor league contract. The 40-man roster hasn’t been impacted since they acquired left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez from the Red Sox for cash considerations on Jan. 11 and designated first baseman Lewin Díaz for assignment.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Feb. 15. The clock on the countdown is ticking louder. Some teams have declared that they’re unlikely to make any other moves, but the Orioles keep trying to find another veteran starting pitcher.

“We’re definitely not going to rest in terms of improving this roster before we leave for Sarasota,” executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias said during Friday’s interview on 105.7 The Fan, “and even after we’re in Sarasota, sometimes things happen.”

They often happen.

Infielder Chris Owings, pitchers Chris Ellis and Conner Greene and catcher Beau Taylor were signed to minor league deals last March after the media arrived in Sarasota. Nothing impactful, as it turned out.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Mullins on WBC: "It's a huge honor to be a part of this"

mullins hatless white

Cedric Mullins will participate in the upcoming Orioles caravan, added to the list on Jan. 10, and report early to spring training in Sarasota before leaving camp to join Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

The Orioles aren’t done trying to make other moves to set their opening day roster, but Mullins is certain to roam center field and sit atop the order.

What’s new to Mullins is ramping up for WBC competition while leaving behind most of his teammates. Reliever Dillon Tate also was chosen for Team USA.

“It’s going to be awesome. It’s a huge honor to be a part of this,” Mullins said this week on MLB Network Radio.

“The last one being back in 2017, so a decent amount of time has passed. COVID kind of got in the way of that, as well, so it’s awesome to be amongst this group. Not only being competitive out there, but you’re preparing for the season, as well. It’s definitely going to be an experience.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Lining up some possibilities for Orioles batting order

GettyImages-1390958012

A week remains in the month of January and I’m already seeing mock lineups posted online. They’re built upon a foundation of past orders and current assumptions.

I’ve done it with less.

Cedric Mullins is leading off for the Orioles, and that’s the only certainty on the team. He did it in 141 games last season – the club went 73-68 – and he’ll be missing at the top only if on the bench or perhaps on some occasions when he’s facing a tough left-hander.

Mullins batted .209/.265/.313 against southpaws last season, compared to .279/.340/.441 against right-handers.

Deciding on an actual opening day lineup is harder when the Red Sox haven’t announced their starter. Their rotation candidates include left-handers Chris Sale and James Paxson, and right-handers Nick Pivetta, Garrett Whitlock, Corey Kluber and Brayan Bello.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

How do Orioles handle first base at Triple-A Norfolk?

GettyImages-1231538830

The first order of business for the Orioles at spring training is finding 26 players to hop on the charter flight to Boston for opening day. Thirteen pitchers and 13 position players. No more questions about the composition of the rotation and bullpen, and which players join backup catcher James McCann and Ramón Urías or Adam Frazier on the bench.

The camp cuts also enable the Orioles to further stock the roster at Triple-A Norfolk. They have work to do down on the farm.

Lewin Díaz and Ryan O’Hearn were acquired to compete for the backup job at first base, with the latter also providing an option in right field. Two of the many left-handed bats brought into the organization.

The Orioles managed to get them through waivers – Díaz was the real challenge – and remove them from the 40-man roster. They’d be an easy fit with the Tides, who don’t have a first base prospect set to make the majority of starts.

Norfolk’s infield is expected to include Jordan Westburg, Joey Ortiz and Connor Norby, though they will try to make the Orioles’ roster for the March 30 opener. Colton Cowser, the fifth-overall pick in the 2021 draft, will be in the outfield and waiting for his inevitable promotion. Robert Neustrom returns, and the Orioles signed Franchy Cordero, Daz Cameron and Nomar Mazara to minor league contracts.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Kremer talks about his workouts, season and cooking skills

Dean Kremer throw black home

Nothing has changed with the Orioles rotation as we enter a new week. The same group of candidates for five spots, led by … we don’t know.

The thought of an open competition really intrigues. Then again, so does a trade for a legitimate No. 1 starter, but don't leave a candle burning for Miami's Pablo López, because he's headed to the Twins.

Nothing on the free agent market is going to settle the issue. Michael Wacha isn’t the answer, but he’s been successful between stops on the injured list. He’d be a nice insurance policy while the Orioles hope for a continued upward trend with some of their younger arms. And that the road for top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez is a smooth one.

Who really can say until he gets out there, takes the ball every five or six days and pushes himself beyond the number of games he grew accustomed to in the minors?

The Orioles will get back John Means at some point during the summer, perhaps before the All-Star break, certainly after it. They more easily can calculate what they’ll receive from veteran Kyle Gibson based on his 10 seasons in the majors, though they also trust that their studies of video and pitching program will bring out the best in him.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Leftovers for breakfast

martin slides gray

A new top 101 baseball prospects ranking again gives lots of love to the Orioles, with eight players included on the list.

Just not the exact same eight that made Baseball America’s top 100 this week.

Baseball Prospectus also puts infielder Gunnar Henderson at No. 1 while he retains his eligibility. The two publications are in agreement here.

Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez is No. 8, shortstop Jackson Holliday is No. 9, outfielder Colton Cowser is No. 38, third baseman Coby Mayo is No. 69, infielder Jordan Westburg is No. 74, infielder Connor Norby is No. 82, and left-hander DL Hall is No. 95.

Not all lists are created equal, and we have another example of the inexact science.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

This, that and the other

kyler stowers upset black

The revelation this week that the Orioles led the majors with eight players ranked among Baseball America’s top 100 prospects, the most in franchise history, illustrated the massive gains made by a farm system that routinely drew heavy criticism for its light weight.

Only the second team to have two different players, catcher Adley Rutschman and infielder Gunnar Henderson, ranked first in back-to-back years, after the Cardinals’ J.D. Drew in 1999 and Rick Ankiel in 2000. The first to do it in consecutive years with players from the same draft class.  

The appropriate and predictable focus fell upon the Big Eight: Henderson, Grayson Rodriguez (sixth), Jackson Holliday (15th), Colton Cowser (41st), DL Hall (75th), Jordan Westburg (76th), Connor Norby (93rd) and Joey Ortiz (95th).

Henderson will lose his prospect eligibility early this season. Happens to the best of them. Hall made his major league debut before Henderson and has an excellent chance to break camp with the team, so he’s also on the clock.

Norby and Ortiz shot into the top 100 with huge 2022 campaigns. They seemed neglected. Ortiz is rated 17th in MLBPipeline’s top 30 Orioles prospects.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles sign Garrett to minor league deal

Reed Garret Nationals throwing

The competition for bullpen spots on the Orioles roster got a little deeper this morning.

The club announced that it signed right-hander Reed Garrett to a minor league contract, which could put him on the list of spring training invites.

Pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex on Feb. 15, with the first workout held the following day.

Garrett, 30, made seven relief appearances with the Nationals last season and allowed seven earned runs (eight total) with 13 hits, eight walks and six strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings. The Richmond native had his contract selected on June 14 after a three-year absence from the majors.

The Nationals used Garrett in three June games and three more in July. He served as the 29th man in an Oct. 4 doubleheader and tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Mets.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

More spring training curiosities in Orioles camp

Anthony Bemboom throw black

How the rotation and bullpens are constructed, with the first influencing the second, are the biggest spring training curiosities for me and many others. The final bench spot must be monitored, with a non-roster, left-handed hitting first baseman hoping to crash the opening day party in Boston.

I’ve already filled this space with some spring training storylines. Here’s a recent story.

What else is worthy of our attention besides the exhilarating pitchers fielding practice and bunt drills?

I’ll take a swing at it with some quick hits.

Every Kyle Gibson side session and appearance is noteworthy because the Orioles gave him $10 million guaranteed, their largest deal since hiring Mike Elias, and he could move near or at the top of the rotation. They expect more out of him than just innings, though they'll gladly take those, as well. He's bound to draw comparisons to Jordan Lyles, the pitcher he basically is replacing.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Orioles top all of MLB with eight ranked in the new Baseball America top 100

Gunnar-Henderson-looking-up-black-away

It was a record-setting day for the Orioles with the release of the new Baseball America national top 100 prospects list today. Not only does Gunnar Henderson continue as the publication’s No. 1-ranked prospect, but the Orioles topped all of Major League Baseball with eight players ranked in the top 100, one more than Cleveland's seven and two more than the Dodgers, Mets and Rays, who had six each. 

This is the second year in a row in which Baseball America has ranked an Oriole as the top prospect in the sport. Adley Rutschman was No. 1 in the poll released last year. The publication has been producing top 100 lists since 1990, and the only other time the same organization had two different players at No. 1 in consecutive years was when the St. Louis Cardinals' J.D. Drew and Rick Ankiel topped the ratings in 1999 and 2000, respectively.

Also, no team had two players from the same draft ranked No. 1 in back-to-back years until today. The O’s selected Rutschman No. 1 overall in 2019 and Henderson was their second pick in that draft, at No. 42.

So Henderson, who was the 2022 Baseball America Minor League Player of the Year also, is still No. 1. Pitcher Grayson Rodriguez is now No. 6 and the second-highest rated pitcher behind the Phillies' Andrew Painter at No. 5. Baseball America now ranks Jackson Holliday, the overall No. 1 pick by the Orioles in the 2022 draft, at No. 15. The Orioles also have Colton Cowser at No. 41, pitcher DL Hall No. 75, Jordan Westburg No. 76, Connor Norby No. 93 and Joey Ortiz at No. 95. Norby and Ortiz crack Baseball America's top 100 rankings for the first time this year.

With eight players ranked, the Orioles blew away their previous best in this initial pool release by Baseball America. We say initial as the last several years the publication has tweaked its poll throughout the season. In 2022, the Orioles ended the season with six in the top 100. But in the initial poll release of each year, the Orioles' best previous showings were five players ranked in 2008, 2021 and 2022.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Díaz dives into Orioles non-roster pool

GettyImages-1243508711

The Orioles found out yesterday that Lewin Díaz would remain in the organization after he cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk.

Díaz was designated for assignment again a week ago. He may or may not have been told.

Who wants to make that phone call?

But seriously …

Getting Díaz through waivers, which has been harder than AP calculus, increased the list of non-roster invites to spring training that hasn’t been finalized.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

Díaz stays with Orioles after clearing waivers

GettyImages-1340372676

The Lewin Díaz saga might finally be over.

The Orioles announced today that Díaz cleared outright waivers and was assigned to Triple-A Norfolk. He stays in the organization.

The outcome allows the Orioles to bring Díaz and Ryan O’Hearn to spring training as non-roster invites competing for the backup job at first base. O’Hearn passed through waivers last week and accepted his outright.

Díaz has been a man on the move since the season ended. It's become his unintended claim to fame.

The Marlins designated Díaz for assignment on Nov. 15 and the Pirates claimed him off waivers on the 22nd. He was designated again on Nov. 30 and the Orioles claimed him two days later.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

John Angelos: "I think we're headed in the right direction"

GettyImages-1063567086

The importance of the Orioles to the city of Baltimore, how tightly the orange and black threads are woven into its fabric, shouldn’t need to be proven or reiterated. It’s as plain as the brick building behind the right field flag court at Camden Yards.

Still, it’s nice to hear.

It’s also vital for the folks who carry deep scars from the Colts burning them with the move to Indianapolis 39 years ago.

Mayor Brandon Scott didn’t mention the Colts by name at yesterday’s press conference to announce the Orioles’ $5 million donation to the non-profit CollegeBound Foundation, but the baseball team’s commitment to the city stood as a stark contrast to Robert Irsay’s slurred promises to stay that were built on lies.

Scott called chairman and CEO John Angelos and the Orioles “a true partner to the city of Baltimore.”

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

O's make $5 million donation to CollegeBound Foundation; Angelos repeats team isn't moving

Warehouse

The long-term commitment to the city of Baltimore that Orioles ownership has preached and promised throughout rumors of a potential sale or relocation was reiterated this morning via a sizeable financial donation to a local nonprofit organization.

The point was driven home in tones ranging from mostly celebratory to somewhat heated during a 25-minute news conference.

Orioles chairman and CEO John Angelos, in a rare public appearance, and Mayor Brandon Scott gathered on the sixth floor of the B&O warehouse to announce a $5 million commitment to CollegeBound Foundation in support of “the next Baltimore renaissance.”

The CollegeBound Foundation, in existence for 35 years, is a multi-year support network dedicated to leading Baltimore City public school graduates through college by offering academic and personal guidance, empowering these students to successfully pursue and complete a college degree or other post-secondary options.

The Orioles also are providing paid internships to former city students and current College Completion Program scholars.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments

This, that and the other

GettyImages-1407884900

The Orioles completed most of their arbitration business on Friday and made another sizeable splash two days later in the international market.

There isn’t much left to do besides get the camp roster ready for spring training.

Austin Voth is the only player among the six arbitration eligibles who didn’t agree to terms. He’s seeking $2 million and the Orioles countered at $1.7 million.

A hearing could be held in late January or February, with a three-person panel determining the salary. There are no compromises if it reaches this stage.

Voth would be an interesting case given the splits in his season between the Nationals and Orioles. The 10.13 ERA and 2.143 WHIP in 19 relief appearances versus the 3.04 ERA and 1.229 WHIP in 22 games (17 starts) for a team that contended until the final week.

Continue reading
  0 Comments
0 Comments