A lot can change, and we still have four weeks to go before opening day, but here is my shot at projecting the Orioles’ 25-man roster.
I should point out I went with the roster as if no one starts the year on the disabled list and as if the Orioles don’t have three early off-days. Kind of a roster once they settle into the grind of the season. Of course, they may start the year with a player or players on the disabled list and they do have those off-days.
So the opening day roster could look quite different than this. But for the bulk of the year, they may well have five starters, seven pitchers in the bullpen, two catchers, five infielders and six outfielders.
This is just a guess. You may disagree - and feel free to do that. No one is grading us.
Starting Pitchers: Chris Tillman, Kevin Gausman, Dylan Bundy, Wade Miley and Ubaldo Jiménez.
Tillman seems likely to begin the year on the DL, but possibly for just a few days. The Orioles can’t afford to have him miss a significant amount of time. Gausman could make his first opening day start, but once they get past those first three off days, the rotation could look like this and possibly in this order. The early off days make it such that the club could begin the year with four starters - not needing a fifth - until the 10th game April 15.
Bullpen: Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Donnie Hart, Tyler Wilson and Vidal Nuño.
This ‘pen setup gives the Orioles a third lefty in Nuño that can go multiple innings and a longman/swingman in Wilson to take over the Vance Worley role. But others could fill either role, of course, including Richard Bleier or Jayson Aquino as the lefty, and Logan Verrett and a host of others like Gabriel Ynoa or Mike Wright as the long man.
The Orioles are also in good shape in that both the third ‘pen lefty spot and long man spot have multiple players on the 40-man roster that could be optioned back and forth between the majors and minors. Givens and Hart also could be optioned, allowing the Orioles to carry four bullpen spots with options and that could prove big over the long year.
Catchers: Welington Castillo and Caleb Joseph.
No left-handed batters here, but Castillo has strong career numbers versus lefty pitchers, batting .287/.354/.485. This could help an O’s lineup that fared poorly against southpaws in 2016.
Infielders: Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado and Ryan Flaherty.
Flaherty is the one sub here and the super utility player. The Orioles will also have several veterans in the infield a phone call away at Triple-A.
Outfielders: Adam Jones, Seth Smith, Hyun Soo Kim, Mark Trumbo, Craig Gentry and Joey Rickard.
A lot still to be determined here. If this group of six is indeed in the outfield along with the five infielders listed, then Trey Mancini does not (for now) make the 25-man roster, nor does either of Rule 5 picks, Anthony Santander or Aneury Tavárez.
This gives the Orioles a possibility of two platoons in the outfield, with Smith and Kim batting left and with Rickard and Gentry hitting right-handed. Gentry is a career .268/.350/.357 batter against left-handers and brings needed speed and defense. The O’s would have several possible leadoff batters with this roster in Kim, Gentry and Rickard - and maybe even Smith and Jones, who hit leadoff 108 times last season.