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 the cost of the chips and party hats.

Will the Orioles be noise-makers in the coming months?

They enter 2020 with basically the same needs, including starting pitching and a veteran middle infielder to play shortstop. They keep trying to decide on a fourth catcher - and yes, Caleb Joseph remains a consideration - and are likely to bring in a veteran reliever on a minor league deal.

A center fielder also could surface on the spring training roster, again on a minor league contract.

Anyone who’s been following this team should know that it gets busy in the first three months of the year. Players linger on the market and are more willing to accept less money in exchange for an opportunity. The hunt for bargains intensifies.

There are winners and whiffs.

On Jan. 4, 2019, the Orioles claimed right-hander Austin Brice off waivers from the Angels and designated infielder Breyvic Valera for assignment - the latter a surprising move given how he could have competed for a utility spot. They traded him to the Giants a day later in a cash transaction.

You don’t remember Brice? That’s probably because the Marlins selected him off waivers exactly one month later.

Brice posted a 3.43 ERA and 1.231 WHIP with 46 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings in 36 relief appearances with the Marlins.

On Jan. 6, the Orioles signed right-hander Gregory Infante to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.

You don’t remember Infante? Well, you should because I wrote about him a lot based on the undisclosed illness that kept him out of camp. He finally made it from Venezuela to Miami for further treatments, but he didn’t pitch last season and remains a minor league free agent.

Alberto-Dugout-PW-sidebar.jpgOn Jan. 11, the Orioles claimed infielder Hanser Alberto off waivers from the Yankees.

You know how this one played out. The Giants claimed Alberto on Feb. 22, the Orioles claimed him on March 1 while designating reliever Donnie Hart for assignment and he posted a .398 average against left-handers and a .305 average overall.

Alberto could be the regular second baseman this season or at least share second and third. He needs to agree on a new contract or go to arbitration.

The transactions for January 2019 also list the signing of right-hander Bo Schultz on the same day. The Orioles released him two months later.

Schultz was reassigned to minor league camp on March 10 after he gave up six earned runs (seven total) and nine hits in 3 1/3 innings and also hit two batters. He didn’t pitch last season and is a free agent.

The month ended with the Orioles claiming infielder Jack Reinheimer off waivers from the Rangers. He stayed in the organization but never made it to Baltimore, batting .246/.323/.336 in 106 games with Triple-A Norfolk.

The Twins signed Reinheimer to a minor league deal on Dec. 20.

The month of February included the signing of veteran catcher Jesús Sucre, who broke camp with the team and was outrighted in late April. He’s back on the market and won’t be the fourth catcher in camp.

Pitcher Nate Karns signed a major league deal on Feb. 7, with Reinheimer designated for assignment. Karns was guaranteed $800,000 but he couldn’t stay healthy and the Orioles released him on Aug. 7.

No need to include the incentives in his contract because he didn’t come close to reaching them.

Veteran outfielder Eric Young Jr. and infielder Alcides Escobar signed minor league deals on Feb. 11 and Feb. 16, respectively, but they didn’t make the team out of spring training and landed with other organizations. Neither one played in the majors.

Escobar signed with Tokyo Yakult Swallows of Nippon Professional Baseball back in October.

Left-hander Josh Osich was claimed off waivers from the Giants on Feb. 19 and the White Sox selected him a month later. He made 57 relief appearances, posted a 4.66 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in 67 2/3 innings and joined the Red Sox organization after the season.

Getting back Alberto proved to be the most important move of March and a big winner of the offseason, but the Orioles also acquired outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. from the Blue Jays in exchange for international signing bonus slots and claimed catcher Pedro Severino off waivers from the Nationals. They signed outfielder Mason Williams to a minor league deal on opening day.

The moves have to rank above the trade with the Twins that netted right-hander Xavier Moore in exchange for $750,000 in international signing bonus slots.

Moore made nine appearances (four starts) in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and had a 5.59 ERA and 1.500 WHIP with 11 walks in 19 1/3 innings.

We can’t close out March without mentioning the Mike Yastrzemski trade with the Giants - these two teams need to get a room - that brought right-hander Tyler Herb to the organization.

Herb, who has heard all of your marijuana jokes, posted a 3.95 ERA and 1.244 WHIP in 10 starts with Double-A Bowie, but registered a 7.16 ERA and 1.904 WHIP in 16 appearances with Norfolk.

Yastrzemski made his major league debut with the Giants at 28 and slashed .272/.334/.518 with 22 doubles, three triples and 21 home runs in 107 games.

The Orioles won’t shake up the industry, but they’re going to make some noise.

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