The Orioles must set their 40-man roster by 8 p.m. to protect players from selection in the Rule 5 draft, which takes place on the final day of the Winter Meetings on Dec. 14 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Clubs pay $100,000 for any draftee in the major league phase, the cost doubling last year. The Orioles must decide whether to make their annual pick while also are required to carry outfielder Anthony Santander on their 25-man roster for the first 44 days of the 2018 season.
A reliever, outfielder and utility infielder always are in play for the Orioles. In recent years they’ve chosen and kept left-hander T.J. McFarland, outfielders Santander and Joey Rickard, and infielder Ryan Flaherty. They also traded for pitcher Jason García, chosen by the Astros with the fourth overall pick in 2014.
They selected pitcher Logan Verrett before losing him to the Rangers on a waiver claim, and outfielder Aneury Tavárez before returning him to the Red Sox. Verrett made it back to the organization last winter in a trade with the Mets and recently signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization as a minor league free agent.
You’re a diehard fan or really did your homework if you remember pitcher Adrian Rosario, taken from the Brewers in the 2010 Winter Meetings and later returned, or left-hander Brian Snyder, taken from the Giants in 2009 and traded to the Rangers as the PTBNL in the Kevin Millwood/Chris Ray deal. Or catcher Lou Palmisano, chosen from the Brewers organization and traded to the Astros for cash.
I’ve already bombarded you with names that the Orioles will consider protecting later today. Hunter Harvey is the most obvious and the only guarantee. Catcher Austin Wynns and infielder Steve Wilkerson are solid candidates. Pitchers Luis Gonzalez, David Hess and John Means warrant consideration.
The Orioles still have 30 players on their 40-man roster. There’s ample space to protect a handful of prospects, if they choose to do so, and still add players from outside the organization via trades or signings.
Players can be removed from the roster after it’s been set, but no one else from inside the organization can be included on it prior to the Rule 5 draft.
Other minor leaguers eligible for the Rule 5 draft include first baseman Ryan Ripken, the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., and catcher/first baseman Alex Murphy, the Calvert Hall graduate chosen in the sixth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft.
Ripken, 24, batted .287/.323/.378 with eight doubles, three home runs and 24 RBIs in 51 games at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
Murphy, 23, hasn’t moved past Single-A Frederick, where he batted .239/.332/.415 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs and 38 RBIs this year in 90 games.
It isn’t breaking news that the Orioles have placed the highest priority on starting pitching and are interested in guys like Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Jason Vargas, Andrew Cashner, and Tyler Chatwood. The first two could move out of their price range, but executive vice president Dan Duquette obviously is going to check in on the right-handers and determine whether there’s a potential match.
We’re talking significant upgrades who aren’t going to cost as much as Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta.
I’m guessing that Cobb and Lynn will be deemed too pricey and/or attract too much competition for their services. The Cubs reportedly have strong interest in Cobb - manager Joe Maddon and new pitching coach Jim Hickey know him from their Rays days - and must be regarded as the favorites.
Cobb has talked about his preference to play for a winner. The Orioles had five straight non-losing seasons until hitting bottom this year. You have to wonder if their last-place finish will hurt them in any of their pursuits this winter.
Anyway, Cobb and Lynn certainly have drawn interest from the Orioles, along with a host of other starters either on the market or considered available in trades, and the reasoning goes beyond the desire to make another run at the playoffs. They can’t go into the 2018 season with Bundy and Gausman as the sole members of the rotation.
This is simple math. They need three more starters for the major league rotation, with perhaps one coming from the current roster, and others to fill out the Triple-A rotation and provide the necessary depth. Sources aren’t needed to state the obvious. It’s out there and everyone sees it.