The Winter Meetings are right around the corner, if it takes you a month to complete the turn. And if that’s the case, you may want to visit a cardiologist.
I have the same feelings for the meetings as I do an open jar of unrefrigerated mayonnaise, but I’ll withhold the incessant whining until next month. Find a comfortable seat for it.
The Rule 5 draft will be held on Dec. 10 before executives and reporters make a mad dash to the Nashville airport. The Orioles aren’t casual observers of the process. They don’t just dip a toe in the waters. They dive in and swim laps.
They really dialed it up last winter, trading for Jason Garcia about five seconds after the Astros selected him with the fourth pick and grabbing Logan Verrett with their own selection. They kept Garcia and the Rangers claimed the more polished Verrett off waivers before the right-hander eventually returned to the Mets.
Going back a few more years, the Orioles selected infielder Michael Almanzar in 2013, left-hander T.J. McFarland in 2012, infielder Ryan Flaherty in 2011, pitcher Adrian Rosario in 2010, left-hander Ben Snyder in 2009, catcher Lou Palmisano in 2008, pitcher Randor Bierd in 2007 and pitcher Alfredo Simon in 2006. They took left-hander Luke Hagerty in 2004 and ... wait for it ... infielder Jose Bautista in 2003.
Outfielder/first baseman Jay Gibbons was a Rule 5 pick in 2000. His triceps somehow arrived ahead of him. I’m still not sure how that happened.
Flaherty and McFarland are still around, of course, and Almanzar played third base at Triple-A Norfolk this summer after being returned to the Red Sox, traded back to the Orioles and re-signed as a minor league free agent.
Rosario gave a whole new meaning to “overmatched” in Buck Showalter’s first spring training as Orioles manager. Sort of how I envision myself with Salma Hayek. He was fresh out of Single-A and had no shot at breaking camp with the club.
If you remember Snyder, it’s because you recently studied up on the Kevin Millwood trade with the Rangers. He was the player to be named.
If you remember Palmisano, who was immediately traded to the Astros for cash considerations, I’ll accuse you of confusing him with Rafael Palmeiro.
The Orioles continue to prep for next month’s Rule 5 draft. But like a Facebook status, it’s complicated.
They made it through the 2015 season with Garcia in their bullpen, except for his stint on the disabled list and an injury rehab assignment. Garcia figures to begin the 2016 season in the minors as a multi-inning reliever, but as you’ve been reminded, Dylan Bundy is out of options and could occupy a spot in the Orioles bullpen.
Bundy’s major league experience is limited to two relief appearances in 2012 totaling 1 2/3 innings. That’s also his total output above the Double-A level, his career stalled by ligament-reconstructive surgery on his right elbow and a sore right shoulder.
Bundy is back on the mound in the Arizona Fall League and his velocity is returning, his fastball topping out at 94 mph in Monday’s debut in Mesa. He’s starting again today for the Peoria Javelinas.
The Orioles have good reason to be encouraged, but they also have good reason to view him as their 2016 version of a Rule 5 pick, someone who may require careful handling, at least in the early going, rather than being thrust into pressure situations.
Bundy could simplify matters by convincing the Orioles that he deserves a spot in the rotation, but that figures to be a more gradual progression as he builds up innings.
Going back to my original point, and I realize it’s been a while, the Orioles aren’t shying away from Rule 5 discussions. Maybe they take a position player. Maybe they take a reliever and let the process play out. Either way, they still seem intent on participating in the winter ritual - adding a player at minimal cost and hoping to get him through the season before he becomes an optionable piece the following year.
It’s hard to fathom a bullpen next season that includes Bundy and a Rule 5 guy, even if the Orioles fail to re-sign Darren O’Day, but it’s a possibility.