Inviting conversation about non-roster players in spring training

Is it safe to slip into spring training mode?

Is it really going to happen, with Orioles pitchers and catchers reporting on Feb. 16 - one day after most or all of the beat crew arrives in Sarasota, Fla.?

Multiple reports are feeding us optimism by the ladle. That’s nice. But I’ll repeat that teams were told back in October to prepare as though camps would open on time and the season would consist of 162 games.

We only know that nothing has changed in that regard. No one has been instructed to anticipate delays beyond, per a Major League Baseball memo, that the Double-A and Single-A seasons would start late.

Ed-Smith-Stadium-Exterior-Night-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles are working out their own details, including how to set up camp. Whether the entire group is housed at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, with its two clubhouses, or split up in the usual fashion to include Twin Lakes Park.

Double-A and Single-A players are reporting later, after the first wave is gone, to make it easier to implement the necessary protocols. Can’t social distance without the proper spacing.

The Orioles haven’t announced their spring training invites. The release should go out later this month. And it won’t be the final draft, with other minor league signings expanding it.

I’ll again reference left-handers Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone.

The initial 2020 list contained 23 players. To refresh your memory:

RHP Cristian Alvarado
LHP Ty Blach
LHP Hunter Cervenka
RHP Marcos Diplán
RHP Tom Eshelman
RHP Eric Hanhold
LHP Zac Lowther
RHP Brady Rodgers
RHP Chandler Shepherd
LHP Alexander Wells
LHP Rob Zastryzny
LHP Bruce Zimmermann

Martin Cervenka
Taylor Davis
Bryan Holaday
Adley Rutschman

Rylan Bannon
Malquin Canelo
Dilson Herrera
Mason McCoy
José Rondón

Yusniel Diaz
Mason Williams

Eshelman and Zimmermann were the only pitchers to reach the majors, with left-hander Ty Blach’s bid ending after Tommy John surgery. Holaday was the only catcher, Herrera was the only infielder and Williams was the lone outfielder.

Holaday joined the Diamondbacks organization earlier this week. Blach, Eshelman and Williams are free agents.

Zimmermann made his debut in September and is going to compete for a rotation or bullpen spot beginning next month.

Left-hander Fernando Abad and catcher Nick Ciuffo will be included in this month’s list of invites after signing their minor league deals in December. I’m also assuming that pitcher Conner Greene will be in Sarasota.

Catcher Austin Wynns was outrighted in December and reliever Evan Phillips was outrighted in September. They’re also expected to be in Sarasota.

Rutschman’s inclusion last year was a big deal. There’s no drama in 2021.

Super-utility candidate Stevie Wilkerson and catcher Taylor Davis will be in camp after re-signing in October. Diplán and knuckleballer Mickey Jannis did the same and could join them.

Pitcher Ofelky Peralta stayed in the organization after impressing in the fall instructional camp.

McCoy didn’t make the 40-man roster, but he went unclaimed in the Rule 5 draft and will be back in Sarasota. He looked good at shortstop.

Note: Outfielder Anthony Santander is seeking a 2021 salary of $2.475 million and the Orioles countered at $2.1 million, according to multiple reports.

A file-and-go approach eliminates a settlement before next month’s hearing. A three-person panel will choose one of the salaries. There’s no compromise, no halfway point, unless the Orioles suddenly allow for further negotiations.

Update: The Orioles signed Eshelman to a minor league contract, according to a source.

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