Whatever moves are made to finalize the Orioles roster for spring training and beyond won’t require them to dig deep into their wallets.
Mark Trumbo was the big-ticket item for the club and he came at a relative discount considering early contract projections. But it’s still $11 million for 2017 and $37.5 million for the duration of the deal.
Executive vice president Dan Duquette wants an outfielder who’s a plus defender, preferably one who bats from the left side, and more pitching. It’s not likely to come at a significant cost.
There aren’t many open spots on the roster. Most of it is set unless the Orioles make a trade and remove someone who’s expected to break camp with the team.
The Orioles always keep a Rule 5 pick on the roster, but adding another outfielder would present an enormous challenge. Anthony Santander is recovering from shoulder surgery and could be stashed on the disabled list. Aneury Tavarez, with more experience after playing at the Double-A level, could be the odd man out.
Joey Rickard is needed to platoon in left or right field, and he can back up at all three positions. I don’t see him in direct competition with Tavarez.
(The Orioles remain intrigued with the idea of converting Alvarez to a pitcher while he’s on the 40-man bubble.)
If we’re assuming that the Orioles will carry 13 position players, the list should include Welington Castillo and his backup, Trumbo, Kim, Smith, Rickard, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, J.J. Hardy, Jonathan Schoop, Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty. Rickard can be optioned, of course, but we’re back to the platoon discussion.
Trey Mancini’s chances to make the team took a hit with Trumbo’s return, but he’s not automatically eliminated.
We need 12 pitchers to round out this team and the starters currently are set with Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Ubaldo Jimenez and Wade Miley - the order beyond Tillman to be determined. Five spots in the bullpen seem to be secured with Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Donnie Hart. Logan Verrett is an early favorite to be used as a long reliever/spot starter.
The Orioles may prefer to keep Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation, but they must be included among the relief candidates. Logan Ondrusek signed a one-year deal with a club option after the Orioles declined to pick up his previous option - one of the stranger and more unexpected transactions of the offseason, but also one that could pay off nicely if he defends himself against left-handers.
The door remains open for Vance Worley’s return and Tommy Hunter has his share of supporters in the organization, including manager Buck Showalter. Meanwhile, Duquette could add another starter - perhaps someone with an option or on a minor league deal who might begin the season at Norfolk - and a left-handed reliever to improve depth and thicken the plot.
The roster picture remains a bit fuzzy, but it’s become clearer than a month ago when I attempted to craft a mock lineup and bench.
The leadoff hitter remains a mystery. It could be Rickard if he’s starting against left-handers. Kim might get a shot. Smith also is a possibility, since he’s done it for 80 starts and he owns a career .344 on-base percentage in 10 major league seasons.