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.
The Orioles signed third baseman Maikel Franco and acquired reliever Adam Plutko from Cleveland in March 2021. Outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. was acquired in a trade, catcher Pedro Severino and infielder Hanser Alberto were claimed off waivers, and outfielder Mason Williams signed a minor league contract in March 2019.
Elias has made offers to free agents and remains interested in pitcher Michael Wacha, but a report in The Athletic suggested that the veteran right-hander might be seeking a multi-year deal, which could explain why he remains on the market.
Starters below the first tier received contracts larger than expected when it opened.
“Those guys aren’t easy to get your hands on sometimes,” Elias said in the interview. “It was a very competitive winter. I can’t say I was really surprised by it. Pitching has always been something that’s hard to come by. We had some, I think, very close opportunities that just went in a different direction. That happens. But we’re continuing to work on it.
“I think one thing that I am feeling really good about with this pitching staff and this rotation group in particular is the depth and the numbers, and kind of the upside and good variability I think we’re going to have with this young group. Whether it was the young guys that we saw kind of cut their teeth last year in the rotation, all of them are coming back, or guys that were in Triple-A and have really bright futures. I think there’s a lot of upside with this young group. But the fact of the matter is, not a lot of innings or experience at the major league level with a lot of these guys.”
* I’ve written that the Orioles are checking on corner outfielders, with an interest in solid defenders who could assist in left field with its expanded territory. The Athletic reported that the club “investigated the possibility of signing Jurickson Profar,” though it wasn’t confident in getting a deal done. Perhaps again due to his desire for a multi-year deal.
Profar made 141 starts in left field for the Padres last summer. His infield days are pretty much behind him.
MLBTradeRumors.com picked up the story while exploring Profar’s market and labeled him as “a curious fit” for the Orioles, who seem unable to provide regular at-bats in left or right with Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and others on the roster. But they obviously are exploring options in left, however they’d make it work.
* MLB Network is introducing MLBPipeline’s top 100 prospects tonight beginning at 7 p.m.
The Orioles figure to have heavy representation again, as they have in other lists already published.
Pipeline already ran its top 10 players at each position. Gunnar Henderson is the top third baseman, and Coby Mayo is ninth. Grayson Rodriguez is No. 2 among right-handers, DL Hall is fourth among lefties, Jackson Holliday is fifth among shortstops, Connor Norby is sixth among second basemen, and Colton Cowser is No. 10 in the outfield.
* Former major league catcher and manager and Orioles coach John Russell was hired this week as manager of the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers in the Mariners organization.
The Orioles hired Russell as third base coach on Nov. 15, 2010 and switched him to bench coach in June 2011. His contract expired after the 2018 season.
Brandon Hyde was named manager on Dec. 14 and the Orioles brought in a new staff.
Russell, 62, was working as the baseball technical director at IMG Academy in Bradenton since 2019.
* The Ed Smith Stadium box office opens for in-person sales beginning Monday, Jan. 30 at 10 a.m. It will remain open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. until the end of spring training.
The Orioles are approaching their 14th season in Sarasota, with their first Grapefruit League game on Feb. 25 against the Twins. They’ll play 17 home games – 12 beginning at 1:05 p.m. and five beginning at 6:05 p.m.
A complete list of promotions and events can be found on Orioles.com/Spring.
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