The Orioles are continuing to clear space on their 40-man roster for future moves.
Outfielder Mason Williams was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk after clearing waivers and declined the assignment, electing free agency rather than staying in the organization. He could be re-signed later in the winter, but will explore other opportunities.
Williams already was eligible to become a minor league free agent if he hadn’t been placed on the 25-man roster.
The outright assignment was listed yesterday on the International League’s transactions page, but the Orioles had to wait for Williams’ decision. They made the announcement this afternoon.
Williams didn’t have his contract selected until September despite a .308/.371/.477 slash line over 494 plate appearances with the Tides. He had 15 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs and 67 RBIs.
A knee injury sustained in a collision with the outfield fence at Camden Yards reduced Williams’ audition with the Orioles to only 11 games. He went 8-for-30 and didn’t play after Sept. 17.
The Orioles signed Williams to a minor league contract on March 28 after the Reds released him earlier in the month. The former fourth-round pick of the Yankees is a career .286/.325/.382 hitter in parts of five seasons.
The 40-man roster has been reduced to 36 players with Mark Trumbo entering free agency. Pitcher Alex Cobb will be added from the 60-day injured list and a handful of prospects must be protected in the Rule 5 draft that’s held Dec. 12 in San Diego.
Valaika has one minor league option remaining.
Rogers wasn’t part of the 40-man roster because he remained on the 60-day injured list following Tommy John surgery.
The 40-man roster holds six outfielders, not including Trumbo: Austin Hays, Trey Mancini, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Dwight Smith Jr. and DJ Stewart. Stewart will be unavailable for most of spring training after undergoing surgery on his right ankle.
The Orioles website also lists Stevie Wilkerson as an outfielder, but he’s more of a utility type with the bulk of his experience coming in the infield.