SARASOTA, Fla. - The latest roster cuts yesterday, condensed and earlier than usual, left the Orioles with 35 players in camp. Manager Brandon Hyde has to remove 10 more before opening day while knowing that the waiver wire is a potential complication.
In a good way, of course.
Mark Trumbo is a wild card because he could go on the injured list. Hyde will be asked about it again in a day or two and repeat that the decision is on hold. It’s going down to the wire.
The Orioles need Trumbo healthy and productive, but not for a playoff push. They want him to become a trade chip later in the summer. Having him scuffle at the plate and unable to run in his normal manner won’t make him attractive to other teams, as a scout from outside the organization pointed out this week. Having him forced onto the IL after opening day also hurts the cause.
This was a complicated surgical procedure in September to repair cartilage in the knee. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Orioles put him on the shelf next week, but the decision, like Trumbo, won’t be rushed.
Trumbo has worked hard to get back on the field, testing his patience every step of the way. Inclusion on the opening day roster would be a nice reward. But the Orioles also want to be smart about it.
So many decisions are pending over these final days. Hyde suggested that he could carry both Renato Núñez and Rio Ruiz - especially if Trumbo goes on the IL and Núñez can get some at-bats as the designated hitter. We still don’t know whether the Orioles will go with 12 or 13 pitchers, with three or four reserves.
Jace Peterson’s odds decrease if Núñez and Ruiz stay because Rule 5 infielders Richie Martin and Drew Jackson are on the team. But again, we don’t know how many bench players are going north. And the possibility exists that Núñez starts out on the IL with a sore right biceps. He’s supposed to test it tonight in Dunedin.
I talked to another scout who anticipates that the Orioles will hold onto both third basemen if Núñez is healthy.
Does Hyde keep a fourth outfielder? Still don’t know.
Is Jackson really going to back up Martin at shortstop with veteran Alcides Escobar granted his release? Still don’t know.
Pitchers Evan Phillips, John Means, Josh Rogers and Jimmy Yacabonis remain on the camp roster. The Orioles can’t keep all of them. I’m assuming that left-hander Tanner Scott is safe unless the walks over his last four outings begin to raise some concerns.
Rogers could be one of those guys who is viewed only as a starter and will be in Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation if the Orioles don’t have a place for him.
The 40-man roster is full and room must be made for Sucre. There’s also the potential for Eric Young Jr. or Dwight Smith Jr. to squeeze onto the 25-man if Hyde wants an extra outfielder rather than just trusting Jackson to handle the responsibility.
Infielder Hanser Alberto is in jeopardy again of being designated for assignment if he doesn’t make the club. He continually sits on the 40-man bubble and it’s been known to pop beneath him.
Here’s the updated 40-man:
Dwight Smith Jr.
How would you make room for one or two players?