The Orioles today are expected to add a few players to their 40-man roster to protect them from being lost to another team in the Rule 5 draft. Today is the final date for teams to make 40-man additions to protect those players from being selected in the Rule 5 draft on Dec. 8 at the Winter Meetings.
This list is a partial list of O’s minor leaguers who are eligible for the Rule 5 this year if not added to the 40-man. It is not a listing of every player in the organization with eligibility, but rather of list of players with some track record that the club might consider protecting:
P - Cristian Alvarado
IF - Ricardo Andujar
OF - Conor Bierfeldt
P - Stefan Crichton
OF - Glynn Davis
P - Joe Gunkel
P - Francisco Jimenez
P - Jon Keller
P - Branden Kline
P - Jesus Liranzo
IF - Adrian Marin
C - Yermin Mercedes
C - Audry Perez
C - Austin Wynns
P - Jimmy Yacabonis
OF - Mike Yastrzemski
P - Michael Zouzalik
My guess is that the club may protect as many as five players. I’ll rank them in a projected order of most likely to get protected: Jesus Liranzo, Jimmy Yacabonis, Stefan Crichton, Joe Gunkel and Audry Perez.
Liranzo, 21, burst onto the scene this year. Originally signed by Atlanta in May 2012, he was released the next season. The Orioles signed him in July 2013 and that fall he had a screw inserted in his right elbow to repair an Olecranon fracture causing him to miss all of 2014. But Liranzo had an impressive 2016 season where he fanned 66 and gave up just 20 hits in 52 innings between Single-A Delmarva and Double-A Bowie, skipping over Single-A Frederick. His ERA was 1.87 and his WHIP was an impressive 0.89.
Teams take shots on young hurlers with live arms in the Rule 5 draft, so I think this right-hander will get protected. His fastball can touch 96-97 mph. The O’s were hoping to get a better look at Liranzo in the Arizona Fall League, but a back strain that was considered minor limited him to one game.
A 13th-round pick from St. Joseph’s University in 2013, Yacabonis used a plus fastball to produce a solid year, one that ended with an ERA of 2.03 with a 1.08 WHIP with Bowie in the Eastern League. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched to an ERA of 8.53 in the AFL, but nine of the 12 earned runs he allowed came in two outings.
The 24-year-old Crichton was drafted in the 23rd round of the 2013 draft out of TCU. The right-hander pitched in relief with an ERA of 3.73 at Bowie. He showed a fastball that touched 97 mph and an improved slider. Crichton pitched to an ERA of 5.54 in the AFL, allowing 10 runs with five came in one outing. He did not allow an earned run in 10 of his 13 outings with Peoria.
Gunkel was Boston’s 18th-round pick in 2013 after a career at Div. II West Chester University. The O’s traded for him in June 2015, sending outfielder Alejandro De Aza to Boston. He will probably be starting pitching depth again this year at Triple-A Norfolk if the O’s protect him or no one takes him in the Rule 5. A control-artist that doesn’t throw hard, topping out at 92 mph, Gunkel has a career walk rate of 1.57 per nine innings, a strikeout rate of 7.45 and a 1.12 WHIP.
Perez may be the wild card here. If added, the Orioles would have three catchers on the 40-man including Caleb Joseph and Francisco Pena. It would give them some insurance at the position with Matt Wieters now a free agent. If they added another catcher later, they could drop a catcher from the 40-man at that point.
The 27-year-old Perez was acquired by the Orioles for cash considerations from Colorado in March 2015. He was a non-roster spring training invitee last March and then went to Triple-A Norfolk, batting .291/.343/.386 with six homers and 38 RBIs for the Tides. Perez, who hit .301 in the second half, ended the year on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Some in the organization like him better than Pena, with the two considered pretty much equals on defense.
This just in: Mike Trout is the man. Even on a team that finished in fourth place with just 74 wins, he picked up his second Most Valuable Player award last night. The Los Angeles Angels outfielder hit .315/.441/.550 with 29 homers, 123 runs, 100 RBIs and an OPS of .991.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado, who was fourth in the MVP voting last year, was fifth this time and closer Zach Britton finished 11th. Ironically, while Britton was fourth in the Cy Young Award vote, he finished ahead of the three top vote getters for the pitching honor in the MVP vote. Cy Young winner Rick Porcello did not receive an MVP vote, while Justin Verlander was 18th and Corey Kluber 20th in the voting.
As for Trout’s win, I’m not buying the argument that the MVP has to come from a winning team. Trout’s performance was remarkable, but we’ve come to expect that from him. He won the MVP in 2014 and finished second in 2012, 2013 and 2015. He is that close to having won five consecutive MVP awards. Remarkable indeed.
To people saying “But Trout’s team only won 74 games!” Correct. But maybe without him they’d have won only 60 or 65. Wins are wins are wins.-- Tyler Kepner (@TylerKepner) November 17, 2016
Reddick to Houston: The Orioles will not be signing free agent outfielder Josh Reddick. He goes to Houston on a four-year deal for $52 million, according to Yahoo Sports. Reddick hit .281/.345/.405 between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers last season. He is a career .255/.316/.430 hitter.
You have to figure the Orioles at least inquired on Reddick’s price, but $52 million seems too much to me. While he is considered a solid defender and will provide the Astros a good contact hitter with a low strikeout rate, he is just a .218 career batter against left-handed pitching. Reddick will not be playing right field in Baltimore next season.