Mason Williams among 12 players signed to minors deals

With center field depth an offseason priority for the Orioles, they agreed to terms with Mason Williams on a minor league contract that’s certain to include an invitation to spring training in February.

Williams is included among a dozen names tweeted earlier today by the club. And he’s arguably the most important given the position and impression he made at Triple-A Norfolk.

The Orioles also agreed to terms with pitchers Cristian Alvarado, Hunter Cervenka, Francisco Jiménez and Rob Zastryzny; catchers Martin Cervenka and Daniel Fajardo; and infielders Ryan Ripken, José Rondón, Ángelo Mora, Malquín Canelo and Jesmuel Valentín.

Martin Cervenka’s return was reported earlier.

Mora, Canelo and Zastryzny were outside the organization this summer, while the others are staying in it.

Mora, 26, played in the Dodgers organization before his release from Double-A Tulsa in August. He’s a career .260/.312/.373 hitter in nine minor league seasons.

Canelo, 25, batted .262/.320/.350 this year in 128 games with Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Phillies system. Zastryzny, 27, appeared in 18 games with the Cubs between 2016-18, linking him to Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. He signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers in March and posted a 6.49 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in 94 1/3 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Zastryzny made three starts with Tulsa and allowed two earned runs with 20 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.

Mason-Williams-Low-Fives-Pedro-Severino-Gray-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles wanted to re-sign Williams, 28, before he became a free agent, selecting his contract in September for an audition while also hoping that it would simplify the process.

A knee injury limited Williams to 11 games with the Orioles, but he slashed .308/.371/.477 with 15 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs and 67 RBIs in 494 plate appearances with Norfolk. He provides insurance in case Austin Hays can’t play center field for the Orioles on opening day.

Williams, who declined an outright assignment to enter free agency, could compete for a reserve spot on the 26-man roster.

Ripken, 26, is the son of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. He batted a combined .276/.312/.409 in 78 games between Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie.

The Orioles selected Rondón, 25, off waivers from the White Sox on July 30 and he appeared in one game before they outrighted him. He batted .219/.313/.356 in 21 games with the Tides and will compete for a utility job in camp.

Martin Cervenka, 27, played 46 games with Bowie, 12 with Norfolk and five with short-season Single-A Aberdeen and batted a combined .233/.304/.324, but the Orioles like his work behind the plate. He figures to join the catchers in camp, though he’s likely to begin next season with Norfolk.

Left-hander Hunter Cervenka, 29 and no relation to Martin, signed with the Orioles on Aug. 7. He’s made 73 relief appearances in the majors with the Braves and Marlins from 2016-17 and posted a 4.69 ERA and 1.417 WHIP in 48 innings. He allowed three earned runs with 18 strikeouts in 12 innings with Norfolk.

Fajardo, 25, batted a combined .247/.295/.303 in 78 games with Frederick and low Single-A Delmarva. Alvarado, 25, registered a 2.66 ERA and 0.928 WHIP with 13 saves in 40 relief appearances with Bowie. He’s been in the organization since 2012.

Jiménez, 25, has been in the organization since August 2011. He had a 2.82 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 26 games with Bowie, but he allowed 10 runs with 16 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings with Norfolk.

Valentín, 25, appeared in 115 games with Bowie and batted .256/.334/.390 with 24 doubles, three triples, eight home runs and 46 RBIs. He played every infield position and left field.

Valentín, the son of former major leaguer José Valentín, went 14-for-79 in 46 games with the Phillies in 2018.

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