The task of clearing room on the 40-man roster began as the Orioles worked through the final games on their schedule. No need to wait until the last out.
Pitcher Carson Fulmer, the former first-round pick of the White Sox, didn’t make it through waivers. Reliever Cody Carroll passed through and was outrighted.
The 40-man roster was reduced to 37 players, but the Orioles activated pitcher Kohl Stewart from the 10-day injured list yesterday, per their transactions page, and he goes back on the 40-man after opting out of the season due to health concerns related to COVID-19.
Stewart opted out July 31 on the same day that first baseman Chris Davis returned to the club after going through the intake process again due to a sinus infection that caused a low fever.
The Orioles activated Davis yesterday, along with Stewart, relievers Dillon Tate and Evan Phillips, and outfielder Anthony Santander. They also recalled pitcher Dean Kremer, infielders Tyler Nevin and Andrew Velazquez, and catcher Austin Wynns from the alternate camp site, which shut down last week.
The usual procedural stuff following the regular season.
Two more spots are going to be filled after the Orioles activate outfielder Trey Mancini and infielder Richie Martin from the 60-day injured list. Pitcher Wade LeBlanc also is on the 60-day, but he’s a pending free agent.
This is just the beginning.
A bunch of minor leaguers need to be protected before the Rule 5 draft in December. There are slam-dunks and borderline candidates. Easy decisions and headaches.
Outfielder Yusniel Diaz falls into the former categories. There’s absolutely no way he’s left exposed to the draft. He probably would have made his major league debut this summer under pre-coronavirus conditions and earned lots of praise for his work in Bowie.
Infielder Rylan Bannon and reliever Zach Pop, who also came to the Orioles in the Manny Machado trade with the Dodgers, are candidates for the 40-man. Leaving Pop exposed would be done with the hope that teams pass on him following his Tommy John procedure, but he’s been throwing back home in Canada and dominated in the Eastern League prior to his injury.
The hope also is that anyone who’s claimed gets returned later. The Orioles surrendered Rule 5 pitchers Brandon Bailey and Michael Rucker in spring training.
Bannon is a utility candidate who also could earn consideration for the third base job if he’s with the team in spring training. Rio Ruiz doesn’t have it locked down.
Pitching prospects Michael Baumann and Zac Lowther are locks to be protected and I’m assuming the same for reliever Issac Mattson, obtained from the Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade. He probably would have made his major league debut over the summer in a normal season.
I expected his contract to be selected anyway and it didn’t happen.
Baumann, a top 10 prospect in the organization with a career 24-13 record and 2.82 ERA in three minor league seasons, has a strained flexor mass in his right arm that won’t require surgery. Just a shutdown period. He shared the organization’s 2019 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award with Grayson Rodriguez.
Lowther has a healthy 2.26 ERA in three minor league seasons to go with his 23-13 record and averages 10.5 strikeouts per nine innings
Alexander Wells, the control artist who was the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2017 and Futures Game participant the following summer, never made it into the 60-man player pool. He’s also eligible for the Rule 5 draft.
The Orioles placed left-hander Bruce Zimmermann on the 40-man before needing to protect him.
Here’s the current 40-man roster with its two openings for Mancini and Martin:
Travis Lakins Sr.
How would you realistically create more room? Key emphasis on the word “realistically.”
Update: Due to an error on the MLB transactions page, Stewart was listed as coming off the 10-day injured list. I’m told that’s wrong and he remains on the 60-day IL
Stewart isn’t on the 40-man roster, which goes back down to 37 players.