Checking the 40-man roster again before it inflates

With the Orioles on the verge of adjusting their 40-man roster, this seems like an opportune time for a final scroll of the current edition.

There are 35 players listed and at least three prospects are expected to join them by today’s deadline. Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias is likely to make further subtractions later as he attempts to plug holes or increase depth via the free agent and trade markets - though minor league deals would delay the process.

Here are the 15 pitchers:

Keegan Akin
Shawn Armstrong
Alex Cobb
Thomas Eshelman
Paul Fry
Hunter Harvey
Dean Kremer
Travis Lakins Sr.
Jorge López
John Means
Tanner Scott
Cole Sulser
Dillon Tate
César Valdez
Bruce Zimmermann

Armstrong was outstanding before injuring his back, posting a 1.80 ERA and 0.800 ERA with only three walks and one home run allowed in 15 innings. His adjustments in the offseason, including where he set up on the rubber and how he gained more depth on his curveball and learned to slow down the game, have changed him professionally. But is he worth the projected $800,000 he’d earn in arbitration?

The Orioles need to decide.

I’d do it, but again, it isn’t my money.

Sulser-Plants-Orange-ST-sidebar.jpgThey were excited about Sulser, a waiver claim in October 2019. He was tried as a closer and began to experience control issues, averaging 6.8 walks per nine innings. Attach the 5.56 ERA and 1.500 WHIP in 19 appearances and Sulser isn’t secure on the 40-man.

Eshelman was valuable as an emergency starter and long reliever, but does he warrant a 40-man spot - especially with the possibility of a starter candidate moving to the bullpen - and would a team claim him on waivers?

Here are the three catchers:

Pedro Severino
Chance Sisco
Austin Wynns

Bryan Holaday is a free agent and Adley Rutschman doesn’t need to be protected.

Severino is a non-tender candidate with a projected salary of $1.4 million, but who gets the bulk of the starts in his absence? Wynns has been on the 40-man bubble for so long, there should be an imprint on the seat of his pants, but the Orioles are hesitant to weaken their catching depth.

Of course, Wynns could be removed if the Orioles sign another catcher. He never made it onto the active roster this summer.

Here are the 10 infielders:

Hanser Alberto
Chris Davis
José Iglesias
Richie Martin
Tyler Nevin
Renato Núñez
Rio Ruiz
Yolmer Sanchez
Ramón Urías
Pat Valaika

The team’s website lumps Ryan Mountcastle with the infielders, but I refuse to do it. I know a left fielder when I see one.

The arbitration process could lead the Orioles to non-tender Alberto, Núñez and/or Valaika.

Núñez probably stands on the thinnest ice with his $2.1 million projection and limitations defensively, but paying Alberto in the neighborhood of $2.3 million might also be viewed as excessive during these harsh economic times. Valaika’s salary could exceed $1 million, a hefty sum for a utility player.

I wonder how many fans knew that Urías remained on the 40-man? He was impressive in a late audition and could be a utility option.

Listen to me: Chris Davis won’t be released.

Here are the seven outfielders:

Austin Hays
Trey Mancini
Ryan McKenna
Ryan Mountcastle
Cedric Mullins
Anthony Santander
DJ Stewart

I don’t see any wiggle room here, and Yusniel Diaz is crashing the party.

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