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Orioles claim Travis Lakins and DFA Stevie Wilkerson

The Orioles tossed another name into their bullpen competition today, at the expense of a super-utility player whose popularity soared last season. Stevie Wilkerson has been designated for assignment to make room for Travis Lakins, a 25-year-old right-hander claimed off waivers from the Cubs. The team made the announcement this afternoon. Wilkerson, 28, also was designated for assignment last winter, but had his contract selected

A LeBlanc check

The first thing to know about Wade LeBlanc is that he’s heard all of your “Friends” jokes. I’ve never asked him about it, but I’m playing a strong hunch. LeBlanc experienced a drop-off last summer after a solid 2018 season with the Mariners. His ERA climbed from 3.72 to 5.71 and his WHIP from 1.179 to 1.451. He averaged 2.1 home runs per nine innings,

Valaika rejoins Orioles on waiver claim, Kline DFA

If you missed the first Pat Valaika era with the Orioles, and were disappointed when the infielder was designated for assignment on Jan. 16, you’ll be happy to hear that he’s rejoining the club. Valaika was selected off waivers from the Diamondbacks this afternoon, the Orioles announced, after he was designated for assignment on Monday when Arizona needed a roster spot for the recently acquired

How LeBlanc could adjust rotation projections

The reaction is the same each time that the Orioles announce the signing of a starting pitcher. Are they done? The minor league deal with Brady Rodgers didn’t end their search. The minor league deal earlier this week with Wade LeBlanc didn’t end their search. They aren’t done. A major league contract remains available to a veteran starter if the price is right, which can

Notes on Trumbo, Jannis and Valaika

Mark Trumbo was prepared for this. The market dictating his next professional move. The reality that he might have played his last game. Trumbo has been exploring some other options as teams draw closer to opening their spring training camps and the 10-year veteran is unable to get a nibble. The sport hasn’t been embracing sluggers like Trumbo, and he talked about it with me

Orioles sign Wade LeBlanc to minor league deal (updated)

The Orioles may have found their veteran starting pitcher to toss into the spring training competition. An industry source confirmed tonight that left-hander Wade LeBlanc, 35, has agreed to a minor league contract and will be in camp when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 11. The list of spring training invites released this afternoon by the club now includes LeBlanc, an 11-year veteran who’s

Orioles invite 23 non-roster players to camp

The Orioles released their list of 23 non-roster invites to spring training earlier today, headlined by catcher Adley Rutschman, their top prospect and the first-overall selection in last year’s First-Year Player Draft. Rutschman is joined by pitching prospects Zac Lowther, Alex Wells and Bruce Zimmermann, infielders Rylan Bannon and Mason McCoy and outfielder Yusniel Diaz. The future will be illuminated by the Florida sunshine. Other

Could Cobb consume leftover innings?

The decision to trade Dylan Bundy to the Angels left a big hole in an Orioles rotation that already had team officials scrambling to fill spots. He made 30 starts in 2019 and logged 161 2/3 innings, totals that led the club with rookie John Means as the surprise runner-up. Means bested Bundy in plenty of other categories, including wins, ERA, WHIP, average against and

Does Diaz present a summer roster complication?

Yusniel Diaz is going to be invited to spring training again and eventually be reassigned to minor league camp. No matter how he hits. No matter how he fields. The Orioles weren’t tempted by last spring’s statistics, which included 11 hits in 33 at-bats, with three doubles, a home run and seven RBIs in 14 games. The rebuild plan doesn’t permit prospects to be rushed.

The curiosities continue over Mountcastle

Challenged on a recent radio interview to name a few of my spring training curiosities relating to the younger players, I blurted out Ryan Mountcastle’s name as if moved by a reflex. My leg didn’t fully extend, but it was a similar sensation. Mountcastle isn’t expected to head north with the team, though a final decision hasn’t been made. That isn’t why the media will

Leftovers from Shorebirds Hot Stove Banquet

Another day passes and brings the Orioles closer to the Feb. 11 report date for pitchers and catchers at the Ed Smith Stadium complex. They’ve increased their pitching and catching depth, found their starting shortstop and improved their utility options. More activity is on the horizon, as I’ve written. They want another starting pitcher, willing to hand out a major league deal and make the

More on Rodgers and Davis signings and Elias in Delmarva

Does the signing of right-hander Brady Rodgers to a minor league deal end the Orioles’ search for starting pitching? The short answer is “no.” The longer answer is “definitely no.” Rodgers, 29, is one of those depth moves that flood the offseason transactions wire. He’s going to be invited to spring training, just like the majority of the players signed to minor league deals. But

Holt: “It’s a really special group of coaches who are here”

The Orioles wrapped up their annual minicamp in Sarasota, Fla., with the usual perks, including new coaches getting acclimated to the Ed Smith Stadium complex and the staff checking on pitchers who are making adjustments intended to improve their results in 2020. Chris Holt, promoted to director of pitching, described the camp as consisting of “three solid, intensive days.” A nice head start to spring

Orioles announce plans for first “Birdland Caravan”

The Orioles are devoting the final weekend before pitchers and catchers report to spring training to engaging with fans via a “Birdland Caravan” that covers 12 locations across the region. A fresher approach leading into a new season. The winter tour runs from Feb. 7-9 and makes stops in Ellicott City, Annapolis, Aberdeen, Timonium, Bowie, Westminster, Hagerstown, White Marsh, Frederick, Fallston, Fort Meade and York,

Orioles interested in bringing back Beckham

Could the Orioles’ search for infield depth lead them to one of their former players? It’s a possibility. According the multiple sources, the Orioles are interested in veteran Tim Beckham and have discussed a minor league contract. This is an intriguing development for a couple of reasons, the first being that Beckham spent 1 1/2 seasons with the Orioles before they non-tendered him on Nov.

This, that and the other

Before the Orioles could sign pitcher Kohl Stewart and give him a shot at their rotation in 2020, he had to choose which sport to play after high school and attempt to make it a career. Stewart was an Under Armour All-American quarterback in high school who earned a football scholarship to Texas A&M. The Twins made him the fourth overall selection in the 2013

Orioles remain interested in starting pitchers and infielders

The days keep melting away until pitchers and catchers report to the spring training complex in Sarasota, Fla. The Orioles have filled some of their needs, but they aren’t done. While the media keeps making predictions on the rotation, the guesswork aimed at the back end of it, the club has been negotiating with representatives for starting pitchers who remain on the market. I’m hearing

Wojciechowski changing his approach to pitching

The four-seam fastball is going to hold up as Asher Wojciechowski’s primary pitch in 2020, with his slider and cutter still representing the main secondary stuff. However, he’s been devoting a large chunk of his winter workouts to gaining trust in a fourth pitch. Give the hitters something else to think about. Expand the repertoire and perhaps last longer in games. Wojciechowski barely used his

Wojciechowski reluctant to get comfortable with starting status

The articles posted in the offseason list him among the projected starting pitchers. People with a tremendous amount of influence in the Orioles organization expect him to make it, as if it would take some bizarre occurrence to deviate from the plan. So why won’t right-hander Asher Wojciechowski believe it? Wojciechowski isn’t used to arriving at spring training with a job basically waiting for him,

Infield questions linger for Orioles

While wondering if I should jump off the baseball beat and cover something more believable, like World Wrestling Entertainment ... What are the Orioles doing at third base? Mark it down as another storyline heading into spring training. Rio Ruiz made 89 starts at third to lead the club, but he also was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk and pretty much shared the position with Hanser

Orioles lose Valaika on waiver claim

The competition for a utility job with the Orioles has grown thinner. The Diamondbacks claimed Pat Valaika off waivers this afternoon after the Orioles designated him for assignment on Friday while selecting Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays. Ureña is poised to break camp with the team as a backup at various positions, most importantly shortstop behind starter José Iglesias. Meanwhile, Valaika is

Because You Asked - The Final Destination

The Orioles have removed a lot of the uncertainty that hung in the air after their final game of the season. However, there are questions that always linger like the aroma of a hard-boiled egg. And that’s no yolk. This is why mailbags exists. This is why I continue to do sequels to the original. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ll keep pretending.

Wondering about Orioles’ outfield alignment

The days are dwindling until Orioles pitchers and catchers report, and the intrigue and curiosity are building as more storylines begin to develop. Others will surface with the front office continuing to explore the free agent and trade markets, but we’re already off to a good start. The various competitions will provide copy, including the rotation, bullpen and bench. Someone is bound to get hurt,

What’s next for Orioles as spring training approaches?

The important offseason dates keep falling off the baseball calendar, leaving it almost as bare as an oak tree in the winter. The Orioles have moved past the arbitration period, the upcoming hearing dates not applying to a team that reached agreements with all of its eligible players. Hall of Fame voting results will be announced Jan. 21 on MLB Network, revealing whether Yankees shortstop

Hanhold outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk

Another player who had been designated for assignment by the Orioles is staying in the organization. Pitcher Eric Hanhold has cleared waivers and been outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, with the club making the announcement on Twitter. The Orioles designated Hanhold for assignment on Tuesday to create room for shortstop José Iglesias on the 40-man roster. Hanhold was a Sept. 16 waiver claim from the Mets,

Orioles sign Holaday to minor league contract

The Orioles keep whittling their offseason shopping list, with pitching and maybe a defensive-minded center fielder the remaining priorities. The latter only on a minor league contract. Seeking a fourth catcher to provide depth and camp competition, the Orioles today announced the signing of veteran Bryan Holaday to a minor league deal. He’s going to be included on the list of invites. Holaday, 32, is

Holmes feeling at home with Orioles after earlier stint

Darren Holmes already had ties to the Orioles prior to his hiring as bullpen coach. One that played out in public and another that happened behind the scenes - its significance to the organization much slower to develop. Fans can be excused if they’ve forgotten how Holmes appeared in five games with the Orioles in 2000, former executive Syd Thrift acquiring a reliever who was

Ureña linked to Orioles before waiver claim

The Orioles might have landed their new utility infielder Friday night by claiming Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays. It took a while, but they finally got him. I sifted through a series of articles I posted in January 2015 about the Blue Jays’ interest in hiring Orioles executive Dan Duquette as their president and CEO - news that initially broke on our

How Holmes joined Orioles coaching staff

Darren Holmes was the last of three coaches hired by the Orioles during the offseason, chosen to replace John Wasdin in the bullpen. Perhaps the delay can be blamed on the process that led to his signature on a contract. The Orioles said they weren’t going to rush through the interviews and stayed true to their word. The first step was a phone call placed

Orioles claim Ureña off waivers from Blue Jays

The Orioles did more today than work toward signing their remaining arbitration-eligible players. The club announced this afternoon that it claimed infielder Richard Ureña off waivers from the Blue Jays. In a swap at the position, the Orioles made room on the 40-man roster by designating Pat Valaika for assignment. The Blue Jays designated Ureña for assignment on Dec. 30 after signing Travis Shaw to

Orioles agree to terms with Givens, Alberto and Mancini

The Orioles have reached agreement with reliever Mychal Givens on a $3.225 million deal for the 2020 season to avoid arbitration, according to an industry source. Outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini and infielder Hanser Alberto remain unsigned as the 1 p.m. deadline approaches. Negotiations are continuing, but the Orioles are prepared to go to hearings as “file and trial.” Givens, 29, led the Orioles with 11

Orioles reach deadline day to sign arbitration-eligible players

The deadline for teams to reach agreements with their unsigned arbitration-eligible players is 1 p.m. today and the Orioles still have some unfinished business. They will be exchanging salary figures with Trey Mancini, Hanser Alberto and Mychal Givens unless they can resolve the situation. Hearing dates will be established between Feb. 3-21, with the Orioles vowing to go “file and trial” rather than continue to

Orioles sign Castro for 2020 season

The Orioles have whittled the number of unsigned arbitration-eligible players to three by reaching agreement today with right-hander Miguel Castro on a contract for the 2020 season. Multiple industry sources confirmed the signing. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported that Castro and the Orioles settled at $1.05 million to avoid a hearing. The deal reportedly includes awards bonuses. Castro, in his first year of eligibility, earned $569,000

Diplán outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk

Pitcher Marcos Diplán is staying in the Orioles organization. The club announced today that Diplán cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Norfolk, which likely sets him up as a non-roster invitee to spring training. Diplán, 23, was designated for assignment on Dec. 29 to clear space for pitcher Kohl Stewart, who signed a split contract with the Orioles and had to be placed on

Stewart embracing chance to be role model as he tries to make club

The challenge of winning a job with the Orioles in spring training is kept in its proper perspective, with Kohl Stewart overcoming a much larger obstacle to forge a career in professional baseball. Camp competition isn’t going to rattle him. It feels more like a reward. Stewart earned a football scholarship to Texas A&M. He was the fourth overall selection by the Twins in the

Taking the latest look at the Orioles roster (Castro update)

Does the José Iglesias signing, which was announced yesterday, remove some of the uncertainty over the Orioles roster on opening day? Of course. A new shortstop was a high priority and projections with Richie Martin at the position felt like he had become an offseason placeholder. He’s going to play at Camden Yards in 2020. Maybe it’s in April, maybe it’s later. Maybe it’s in

Elias on Iglesias signing and its impact on Martin and club

Orioles executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias doesn’t know whether Richie Martin, last year’s shortstop, is ticketed for Triple-A or will break camp in a utility role. There are too many days leading into the opener. Too many variables. Elias suggested a few possibilities that are tied to the signing of veteran shortstop José Iglesias, the one certainty being how Martin is going to benefit

Orioles DFA Hanhold to create roster spot for Iglesias

The Orioles created a spot for shortstop José Iglesias today on the 40-man roster by designating pitcher Eric Hanhold for assignment. The Iglesias deal is official. The Hanhold days might be numbered. Iglesias agreed to terms yesterday on a one-year deal that guarantees $3 million and can inflate to $6 million if the Orioles pick up his 2021 option. He receives $2.5 million this season,

Rule 5 pick Rucker ready for run at Orioles rotation

Michael Rucker doesn’t have a choice. It isn’t up to him. He’s going to be the other Rule 5 pick in Orioles camp. The second selection after Brandon Bailey. Always listed below him. They’re going to be tied together without the rope. In conversations and stories, in roster and pitching staff projections. While speculating whether the Orioles can carry both of them. At least they

Source: Orioles agree to terms with Iglesias

The Orioles’ search for a veteran middle infielder with plus defensive skills at shortstop has led them to José Iglesias. The sides have reached agreement on a one-year deal worth a guaranteed $3 million, according to a source. The contract includes a club option for 2021 that could push the total value to $6 million. The deal comes after the Orioles expressed early interest in

González on rebuilds and more on arbitration

New Orioles major league coach Fredi González knows rebuilds. They got acquainted while he managed the Marlins and later served as third base coach, and they were reintroduced after he guided the Braves to back-to-back playoff appearances. The front office made it clear to González that drastic changes were coming. The club got off to a 9-28 start in 2016 and he was fired as

Orioles prepping for latest minicamp and retreat

The countdown to pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training has replaced the ball dropping in Times Square. This one is better because it doesn’t require adults to stake out a spot for 18 hours and wear diapers. The Orioles’ first official report date is Feb. 11, following by position players five days later. But the Sarasota, Fla., complex isn’t sitting empty. There’s going to

González on how he joined Orioles and his new role

Fredi González hadn’t heard from or considered the Orioles before informing Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill in late September that he wanted to pursue other opportunities beyond serving as the team’s third base coach. “It had nothing to do with the Orioles,” he said. The phone calls that followed had everything to do with González joining the staff as major league coach, the

Orioles still have four unsigned arbitration-eligible players

The Orioles must reach agreement with their remaining arbitration-eligible players in exactly one week or the sides will exchange salary figures. Hearings will be scheduled between Feb. 3-21. Communication could be cut off until the date arrives. It doesn’t appear that the Orioles have made any progress in signing outfielder/first baseman Trey Mancini, infielder Hanser Alberto or relievers Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro. Negotiations were

Can Núñez contribute at third base?

Look up Renato Núñez on Baseball-Reference.com and the first “position” listed next to his name is designated hitter. Says a lot more about his defensive reputation than the site. The only glove recommended is for batting. Edgar Martinez made it into the Hall of Fame as a DH, but Núñez just wants to stay in the majors and get his at-bats. The lineup today would

Orioles are bound to get busy

I began the decade covering the Orioles for MASN and MASNsports.com and I closed it covering the Orioles for MASN and MASNsports.com. Thanks for indulging me. We’ve entered a new year and the first of many headaches that make blinking a new experience in pain. I tried to type softly, in case you’re still paying the price for last night’s celebrating. And I don’t mean

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