SARASOTA, Fla. - Whatever combination of relievers makes up the Orioles bullpen on opening day, it’s not going to offer much flexibility for manager Buck Showalter.
The desire for an optionable ‘pen has to be muted. Of the pitchers assured of breaking camp with the team, only Mychal Givens and left-hander Richard Bleier can be sent down and they aren’t the typical candidates to ride the Triple-A shuttle.
Brad Brach is out of options. Rule 5 picks Nestor Cortes Jr. and Pedro Araujo can’t be optioned unless they pass through waivers and are offered back to the Yankees and Cubs, respectively. Cortes is trying to stick with the club as the fifth starter, but he makes sense as a left-handed long man backing up all of the right-handed starters.
Mike Wright Jr. could move to the bullpen if he isn’t the fifth starter, but he’s also out of options. Left-handers Josh Edgin and Joely Rodriguez are on minor league deals and can be reassigned to begin the season. If their contracts are selected, however, they can’t be optioned later without passing through waivers.
Miguel Castro has one more option, but he’s a candidate to start at Triple-A Norfolk rather than return to his relief role. It’s a legitimate possibility and Castro hasn’t exactly seized his opportunity this spring with nine earned runs (10 total) and 11 hits in 9 2/3 innings. He’s also walked eight batters.
Gabriel Ynoa is headed to the 10-day disabled list with shin splints. He’s out of options.
Jimmy Yacabonis, Alec Asher, Stefan Crichton and left-handers Donnie Hart and Tanner Scott could ride the shuttle later this summer, but let’s remember that the 40-man roster is full and space must be created for Danny Valencia, Colby Rasmus and Craig Gentry. The same goes for Rodriguez and Edgin if one of them heads to Baltimore.
(Don’t ask me to handicap it. Rodriguez and Edgin both deserve to stay and there’s a chance that they both are reassigned.)
We must include outfielder Alex Presley in this discussion. He’s also a non-roster player who’d require a spot on the 40-man and Trumbo’s DL stint gave him new life.
Yacabonis and Scott are safe, but not everyone is on the same footing. Here’s the current 40-man roster:
Nestor Cortes Jr.
Mike Wright Jr.
Four more cuts are anticipated later today - two before the game in Clearwater and two after the final out is recorded. The roster is holding 34 players, but it’s really 30 when you remove Ynoa, Zach Britton, Trumbo and Alex Cobb.
The four cuts, and stay with me here because it involves math, will leave the Orioles with one extra player as they fly to Norfolk.
Britton is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28 and he’s been one of the top stories in camp because of his continued progress from right Achilles surgery. The protective boot is off, his activities are increasing and the initial fear that he could miss the entire first half of the season now seems laughable.