This, that and the other

As the Orioles discuss which players to protect in the Rule 5 draft and how to create the necessary space on the 40-man roster, they’re expected to again bypass catcher Brett Cumberland and roll the dice that he’ll go unclaimed or return later to the organization.

Gambling in baseball can be done without placing actual bets.

Cumberland remains under team control and could continue his development at Triple-A Norfolk, where he appeared in 84 games while sharing time at various points of the summer with Austin Wynns, Chance Sisco, Nick Ciuffo, Taylor Davis and top prospect Adley Rutschman.

There aren’t many players who crafted such an odd line, with Cumberland batting .187 with a .352 on-base percentage and .300 slugging percentage.

There also aren’t many players who get hit by pitches with such regularity.

Cumberland-Tagged-Out-ST-Orange-Sidebar.jpgCumberland was hit 28 times this summer in 335 plate appearances to raise his career total to 105 since the Braves made him the 76th-overall pick in the 2016 draft. Forty-one came during the 2017 season.

“I don’t think it’s completely coincidence,” said Norfolk hitting coach Tim Gibbons. “He is a guy who gets up on the plate, which is because he wants to be challenged. He’s not afraid to be challenged in. And if you come in there and miss, he’s not going to get out of the way. He’ll wear it.

“He’s a team guy in the sense that he knows getting on base leads to OPS and OPS leads to runs for the whole org and our team specifically. So he’s just a guy who’s not afraid and gets up in that box and is ready to turn on anything inside. When you’re a guy who has that approach and they miss a little bit, you’re right in there to get hit.

“He did a tremendous job of getting on base for us, and he’s another guy I was happy to see end the year strong with a home run the last game.”

Cumberland homered twice on July 8 to raise his season total to eight. His ninth came 10 days later, but he didn’t hit another until Oct. 3 against Durham. He was placed on the seven-day injured list on Aug. 29 and activated on Sept. 5.

Pedro Severino was outrighted yesterday, leaving Ciuffo as the only catcher on the 40-man roster. Rutschman will make his long-awaited major league debut in 2022, though perhaps after beginning the season with Norfolk. Cumberland, acquired from the Braves in the Kevin Gausman/Darren O’Day trade, has a blocked path.

Gibbons praised Cumberland for his handling of the situation, especially after Rutschman’s arrival.

“‘Control what you can control’ was the message, and I think he understood that,” Gibbons said.

“We just want Cumby to be Cumby and do him and just get better and improve. I don’t think he needs to worry about any of that, and nor should he. I think he’s just got to worry about being the best version of Cumberland he can be.”

* The World Series is over and players who are eligible can declare for free agency.

Orioles pitchers Matt Harvey and Fernando Abad were counted among 160 yesterday who entered the market. More will follow, but not from the Orioles. Harvey and Abad were their lone free agents.

Harvey was on the 60-day injured list and didn’t count against the 40-man roster, but Abad’s removal lowered it to 34 players. The Pirates claimed reliever Eric Hanhold off waivers and the Orioles outrighted Severino and pitchers Conner Greene and Marcos Diplán to leave it at 30.

There’s always a chance that the Orioles could attempt to re-sign Harvey and Abad to minor league deals again, but they’ll obviously seek more appealing offers.

* While considering how the Orioles might construct the rest of their infield beyond first baseman Ryan Mountcastle - and if this is occupying much of your day, you may want to seek out other hobbies - keep in mind that minor league options are an important consideration.

For example, how Jorge Mateo, Ramón Urías and Kelvin Gutiérrez are out of them.

Mateo and Urías are possibilities for the middle infield or bench roles. Gutiérrez could compete at third base.

Jahmai Jones has one more option, per FanGraphs.com, and will try to win the job at second base. Richie Martin has two options.

Jones can try to improve his home and road splits. In a small sample size, he batted .267/.353/.400 (4-for-15) in eight road games and .115/.164/.135 (6-for-52) in 18 games at Camden Yards.

I warned you that it was a small sample size.

* The Winter Meetings are being held this year in Orlando, which contradicts what I read earlier via a Google search about Nashville as the host site.

They appear to be shortened by a day, with the meetings running from Monday, Dec. 6 through the Rule 5 draft on Wednesday, Dec. 8.

The Rule 5 usually is scheduled for Thursday morning after three full days of activity, including wandering the lobby, chasing foolish rumors and blowing up Twitter after leaving Mike Elias’ suite.

A new collective bargaining agreement must be in place or the hot stove extravaganza can’t be held. It was canceled as an in-person event in Dallas last year due to the pandemic.

The Orioles use these meetings to bring home a couple of Rule 5 selections after, they hope, laying the groundwork for future free agent signings or trades. They need starting pitching, bullpen depth, infielders and at least one catcher.

They’re also known to make a waiver claim on the first day of the meetings, sort of a Baltimore baseball tradition. There was pitcher Ashton Goudeau in 2020, pitcher Marcos Diplán in 2019 and third baseman Rio Ruiz in 2018.

* The gambling site BetOnline has set World Series odds for 2022, and the Orioles and Diamondbacks sit at the bottom at 150/1.

The Dodgers are 5/1, the Astros 13/2, the Yankees 10/1 and the newly crowned champion Braves 11/1.

The Orioles are just seeking to improve the product on the field while continuing to stockpile talent in their farm system. Being a contender next summer isn’t a realistic goal after they earned the top draft pick this year.

Maybe in 2023.

In the meantime, fans should be more entertained next season with the anticipated arrivals of some top prospects.

* Congratulations are in order for Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini and Sara Perlman, my former MASN teammate, on their engagement.

Mancini proposed to Perlman during their vacation at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. They posted photos and video on Instagram, including Mancini popping the question while on one knee.

This is a beautiful love story and the continuation of their amazing journey, which was in its early stages when Mancini received his colon cancer diagnosis in spring training 2020.

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