Penning more thoughts on some relievers

Left-hander Fernando Abad, signed by the Orioles to a minor league contract in December, has been exceptional as the closer for Toros del Este in the Dominican Winter League.

Abad made 10 appearances prior to the Caribbean World Series and didn’t allow a run in 11 innings. He surrendered only three hits, walked one batter, struck out 10 and recorded six saves.

Toros del Este is set to compete in the Caribbean World Series beginning Sunday at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal in Mexico.

Abad will be a non-roster invite to spring training and he has a legitimate chance to break camp with the Orioles. He was expected to make the Nationals’ opening day roster last summer before testing positive for COVID-19.

The Yankees signed Abad to a minor league deal and became a free agent in November.

Abad’s fastball is touching the mid-90s in the Dominican.

Valdez-Delivers-White-Exhibition-Sidebar.jpgCésar Valdez already is on the 40-man roster and he’s pitching for Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League.

The 35-year-old right-hander made only one appearance in the regular season, tossing a scoreless and hitless inning with one strikeout, because he spent two weeks in quarantine after a COVID-19 outbreak on the team.

Valdez dominated as a starter in the playoffs. The Orioles are more inclined to use him as a multi-purpose reliever.

Long man, middle innings, closer. The dead fish keeping them alive in games.

Many of the bullpen predictions will be bold, given the lack of information from Major League Baseball on roster sizes and uncertainty that comes with selecting two pitchers in the Rule 5 draft.

Playing it safe with an eight-man bullpen entails listing Valdez, Hunter Harvey, Shawn Armstrong, Tanner Scott, Paul Fry, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate. The last spot could belong to Abad. It could belong to one of the Rule 5 guys, Mac Sceroler or Tyler Wells. It could belong to Travis Lakins Sr., who made 22 appearances last summer and tied for the team lead in wins with three and much more importantly registered a 2.81 ERA with 25 strikeouts and only two home runs allowed in 25 2/3 innings.

It could belong to one of the starter candidates, a group that includes Jorge López and left-hander Bruce Zimmermann. The Orioles figure to sign a veteran starter to join John Means, Alex Cobb, Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer.

It could belong to Isaac Mattson, acquired from the Angels in the Dylan Bundy trade, but he seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A Norfolk and make his debut later in the summer. Just a hunch here. He’s certainly in the competition.

The 40-man roster is full, which necessitates a corresponding move if the Orioles sign a player to a major league contract. They designated outfielder/first baseman Chris Shaw for assignment last night after signing shortstop Freddy Galvis to a one-year deal.

Worth keeping in mind.

Armstrong, Valdez and López are out of minor league options and the Rule 5 picks can’t be sent down without clearing waivers and being offered back to their organizations.

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