Orioles claim Valaika off waivers and outright four

The Orioles have reduced their 40-man roster to 38 players while making a waiver claim and outrighting four pitchers to Triple-A Norfolk.

Much more activity will follow as the season concludes tonight with Game 7 of the World Series.

Infielder Pat Valaika has been selected from the Rockies, who chose him in the ninth round of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft out of UCLA. He plays every infield position, mostly in the middle, and has some experience in left field.

Right-handers Luis Ortiz, Ryan Eades and Tayler Scott and left-hander Josh Rogers cleared waivers and were outrighted.

The 40-man roster was full prior to today and didn’t include Rogers, who’s been on the 60-day injured list while recovering from Tommy John surgery. The roster now holds 38 players and will get down to 37 with Mark Trumbo’s removal as a pending free agent.

Pitcher Alex Cobb must be activated from the 60-day injured list and returned to the 40-man.

Valaika-Swings-Rockies-Sidebar.jpgValaika, 27, has slashed .214/.256/.400 in 231 games with the Rockies since making his major league debut in 2016. Hit 13 home runs in 110 games in 2017.

The Pacific Coast League’s roster for the Triple-A All-Star Game included Valaika, who batted .320/.364/.589 with 26 doubles, 22 home runs and 75 RBIs in 84 games with Albuquerque. He wasn’t available to play, however, because the Rockies called him up to the majors.

Limited to 40 games and 86 plate appearances with the Rockies this summer, Valaika batted .190/.256/.316 with five doubles, one triple and one home run, and struck out 34 times. His pinch-hit home run off the Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu on June 28 broke an 0-for-30 slump, the second-longest in franchise history behind Desi Relaford’s 0-for-33 in 2005.

By that time, Valaika had been recalled him from Albuquerque on April 1, optioned April 23, recalled May 4, optioned May 17 and recalled again June 18. He appeared in one game in July and was later added to the expanded September roster.

The experience in the middle infield is valued by the Orioles as they face decisions regarding Jonathan Villar and Richie Martin. Villar is arbitration eligible for the final time and MLBTradeRumors.com projects a raise to $10.4 million. Martin no longer holds Rule 5 status and can be optioned.

Ortiz came to the Orioles as part of the Jonathan Schoop trade with the Brewers at the 2018 deadline and made only one appearance this summer, with the former first-round pick allowing four runs in 3 1/3 innings in a June 14 start against the Red Sox at Camden Yards. An injury prevented him from pitching for Triple-A Norfolk after July 2.

He struck out the side in one inning in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League on Aug. 15 while on a rehab assignment.

Going unclaimed on waivers is a significant drop for a player who once rated as a highly regarded prospect.

Rogers was part of the package obtained from the Yankees in the Zack Britton trade in 2018. He allowed 14 runs and 18 hits with six walks over 14 1/3 innings in five relief appearances with the Orioles prior to his surgery.

The season was a bust for Rogers, who posted an 8.51 ERA and 1.745 WHIP in 11 starts with Norfolk.

Scott allowed one run in 16 innings with the Tides and 18 runs in 8 2/3 innings with the Orioles.

The Orioles claimed Eades off waivers from the Twins on Aug. 14. He surrendered three runs in 7 2/3 innings in six relief appearances.

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