The activity that’s been aimed at the Orioles’ 25- and 40-man rosters in the offseason hasn’t produced national headlines. There were three acquisitions in the Rule 5 draft and depth moves for the pitching staff, infield and catching position. Some of them haven’t been announced and there could be others still under wraps.
The decision to use the first pick in the Rule 5 draft on infielder Richie Martin has the potential to be one of the most impactful, considering that he’s a candidate to start at shortstop or serve in a utility role and his plus defense and climb in offensive production should make it easier to carry him.
Players can’t truly be slotted or given odds of making the club until the roster no longer is incomplete. Plenty of moves are pending. But Martin should make the mocks.
Infielders Drew Jackson and Rio Ruiz also could be worthwhile additions, the former also coming from the Rule 5 draft and requiring a full stay on the major league roster. If nothing else, Ruiz provides a left-handed hitting option at third base.
There might not be a more intriguing pickup than Taylor Grover, the right-hander with the 102 mph fastball who was taken in the Triple-A phase of the draft. His stock soared after his video was posted on Twitter. If he can consistently throw strikes, he has a shot to be included in the bullpen and take on a significant role on a club that’s lost Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Darren O’Day.
Crofton native Sean Miller, who played at Archbishop Spalding in Severn, signed a minor league deal on Dec. 16 and could be a Paul Janish type who provides infield insurance with his plus defensive skills. If he sticks around, of course.
Catcher Carlos Pérez, also signed to a minor league deal, could compete for a backup job. He hasn’t hit in the majors, but owns a .290/.368/.421 slash line in parts of 11 minor league seasons and is praised for his work behind the plate.
Right-hander Austin Brice was claimed off waivers and placed on the 40-man roster. He’s out of options and should get a fair shot at making the club, but will have to earn it.
A 5.68 ERA and 1.262 WHIP in 70 relief appearances over the past three seasons won’t raise goose bumps, but he’s registered a 2.70 ERA and 1.144 WHIP in 53 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level and possesses a mid-90s fastball and a curveball that can be a weapon for him.
We’ll find out later whether Brice was worth losing infielder Breyvic Valera, who came off the 40-man roster and was traded to the Giants for cash considerations.
Gregory Infante reportedly has been given a minor league deal and also can compete for a relief role. His chances hinge on whether he more closely resembles the pitcher who registered a 3.13 ERA and 1.189 WHIP in 52 games in 2017 or the pitcher who allowed eight runs and 12 hits and walked eight batters over nine innings last summer.
Meanwhile, the deadline arrives today for teams to reach agreements with their arbitration-eligible players before figures are exchanged and hearing dates are set.
The Orioles are down to three of those players after non-tendering Tim Beckham and Caleb Joseph, the latter still on the free agent market. They’re trying to avoid hearings with pitchers Dylan Bundy and Mychal Givens and infielder Jonathan Villar.
MLBTradeRumors.com projects that Villar will receive $4.4 million in arbitration, Bundy $3 million and Givens $2 million.
Former executive vice president Dan Duquette claimed in recent years that the Orioles would go the “file and trial” route with unsigned players, but they’d inevitably continue negotiations right up to the hearing date. Up to the minute that the sides had to enter the room.
And finally, former Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson has been hired by the Phillies as their infield coach. He becomes the first member of the 2018 staff to land a job in the majors.
Dickerson will be in the dugout for games. He had interviewed for the Phillies’ job of minor league infield coordinator and ended up with a position on the major league staff.
The Orioles hired former Phillies first base coach and infield/baserunning instructor José Flores, who is expected to coach third base. Former Red Sox first base coach and outfielder instructor Arnie Beyeler will coach first.