Who knew we’d see rosters expand twice for the 2020 season? Well, there is an asterisk in that statement. Rosters did expand from 25 to 26 for this season, but the March shutdown of baseball and the delay to re-start the game may expand those rosters further.
If Major League Baseball starts in July as hoped, we could see 30-man rosters with 20-player taxi squads.
Initially, the 26-man rosters were to include a limit of 13 pitchers, but no doubt that limit will be raised. We just have not heard any official word on that yet. They’ve got to resolve the season’s return and produce dates and a schedule first. They’ll get around to the roster limits eventually. At least we can hope for that.
It is interesting to note that when spring training was halted on March 12, the Orioles roster stood at 50. If they had to start the season in July, would those 50 make up the active roster and taxi squad? Probably the bulk of it, but surely teams would be allowed to make roster changes if they chose to.
Here is a look at where the O’s were with the roster on March 12.
Left-handed pitchers (9): Ty Blach, Richard Bleier, Paul Fry, Wade LeBlanc, John Means, Tommy Milone, Tanner Scott, Rob Zastryzny, Bruce Zimmermann.
Going with a 26-man roster may have limited the Orioles to two bullpen lefties, with Bleier and Fry looking pretty solid for that. Does expanding to 30 add another ‘pen lefty? Also it’s worth noting the Orioles are likely to start a season with three rotation lefties in Means, LeBlanc and Milone.
Right-handed pitchers (17): Shawn Armstrong, Cody Carroll, Miguel Castro, Alex Cobb, Tom Eshelman, Mychal Givens, Eric Hanhold, Hunter Harvey, Branden Kline, Travis Lakins Sr., Evan Phillips, Chandler Shepherd, Kohl Stewart, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate, Hector Velázquez, Asher Wojciechowski.
The righty bullpen group produced some good numbers in spring training. Armstrong, Carroll, Castro, Kline, Hanhold and Sulser combined to allowed just three runs and 14 hits in 29 1/3 innings in Florida. The ability to have Harvey and Tate on the roster most of the summer will be a plus. On the down side, even though it was just four games, Givens had a spring ERA of 10.38.
Catchers (5): Taylor Davis, Bryan Holaday, Pedro Severino, Chance Sisco, Austin Wynns.
A 30-man roster could provide room for a third catcher or certainly there would be an extra catcher or more than one on a taxi squad. As camp ended, Holaday’s defense and experience was getting noticed and he seemed to be making a strong case for an opening day spot.
Infielders (11): Hanser Alberto, Chris Davis, Dilson Herrera, José Iglesias, Richie Martin, Renato Núñez, José Rondón, Rio Ruiz, Richard Ureña, Pat Valaika, Andrew Velazquez.
Remember that time when Davis went 7-for-15 with three homers and nine walks in spring training? Seems like a year ago. But he did it, it was a big story in camp, and hopefully and eventually, we’ll get to see if it leads to better stats in games that count.
Expanding to 30 could allow the Orioles to keep at least two utility candidates. I would think Valaika and Velazquez lead that pack, but as you can see the O’s still had several utility candidates on the camp roster as mid-March arrived.
Outfielders (8): Yusniel Diaz, Austin Hays, Trey Mancini, Anthony Santander, Dwight Smith Jr., DJ Stewart, Stevie Wilkerson, Mason Williams.
Mancini will miss the season and that opens playing time for someone. That could benefit Smith or Stewart the most. Hays and Santander were probably locked into regular at-bats. Williams could be a valuable reserve that can play all three spots. Wilkerson is listed as an outfielder now? Yep, he is.
But what about this thought - Ryan Mountcastle in left, Hays in center and Santander in right. That could be an exciting and young outfield with plenty of offensive potential. Mountcastle was on the camp roster on March 12, but a week later was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk.
Latest on the season: Various outlets reported that the MLB players’ union did not exactly embrace the plan the owners negotiators presented yesterday. It seems the sides are still far apart. Some cautioned this was just the first step, but the concern has to be the limited time they have to work this out.
Some fans must feel a bit helpless as they watch this complex matter from afar. I wonder how this can be so hard? Is this just how this negotiation is going to go and it will get worked out in the end? Or is yesterday’s news a precursor of events to come? It didn’t seem like a great day for those of us hoping we can have a healthy season of baseball.
Potential salary cuts in MLB plan, sources tell @JesseRogersESPN and me:-- Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) May 26, 2020