The Orioles announced their non-roster invitation list for spring training Tuesday, and it’s not particularly surprising or particularly deep.
You’d have to be a real student of baseball to recognize all 12 names: catchers Chance Sisco, Yermin Mercedes and Audry Perez; infielders Johnny Giavotella and Robert Andino; outfielders Chris Dickerson, Logan Schafer and David Washington; right-handers Nate Adcock, Richard Rodriguez and Zach Stewart; and lefty Jed Bradley.
The names are fairly dismissible, but these are the Orioles, the club of opportunity. They seemingly have a way of finding at least one or two non-roster invitees that help the club every year. This 25-man roster, however, is pretty much decided, assuming players avoid spring injuries. There are only a few bench battles and maybe two relief spots still vacant.
The name that stands out on this list is Sisco, who is not yet on the 40-man roster, which is why the top prospect is a spring training invitee. He was last year, as well. Sisco, 21, is expected to start the season at Triple-A Norfolk, but the Orioles want him to get some work with the big leaguers, and they always need extra catchers in early spring.
Besides Sisco, the best known invitee is Andino (pictured above), whom the Orioles announced Monday would be coming to camp. Andino, 32, who was with the Orioles from 2009 to 2012 and was a clubhouse and media favorite, is likely targeted to play middle infield for the Tides. But he’s good insurance to have in case the big-league club needs help due to injury, though he he’s only played 13 games in the majors since 2013.
Giavotella, who was the Los Angeles Angels’ Opening Day starter at second base in 2016, is probably in the same situation as Andino, though Andino is considered a better defensive player (especially at shortstop). So, unless the club adds more infielders to minor-league deals in the next few weeks, those two could be the up-the-middle, double-play combo for Norfolk to begin 2017.
More under-the-radar signings on the way?
I’m accustomed to executive vice president Dan Duquette bringing in a lot of bodies for spring training. Considering that there aren’t many big-league jobs available in this camp, I can see why this list isn’t overflowing. Another reason is simply because a significant number of free agents – more than 50 – haven’t landed yet.
I’ve written repeatedly that this is an area in which Duquette excels: Finding undervalued assets that can fill out a roster. Therefore, I expect him to land another starting pitcher – a veteran swingman type – and another big-league bat, presumably and preferably a speedy outfielder who can play above-average defense. Michael Bourn and Angel Pagan remain atop the list, though Pagan’s injury history doesn’t make him a perfect fit for the Orioles’ stringent medical review.
What’s most interesting to me is whether Duquette can land a couple more veteran pieces on minor-league deals. He likes his full, 40-man roster currently, so he obviously would prefer reeling in his targets without a 40-man promise. It’s not going to be about money this time; with the glut of players still available it’s more about the roster spot.
One name that can officially be crossed off the list is slugger Chris Carter, who reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the New York Yankees on Tuesday. That seems like a tremendously inexpensive contract for a 30-year-old guy that bashed 41 homers to tie for the National League lead last year. He’s limited defensively and is basically just a basher, but, still, power once was an expensive commodity – way back in 2016.
Carter was probably never too high on the Orioles’ wish list anyway, and he definitely fell off once the team re-signed Mark Trumbo, another home run leader who was available via discount.
Tonight’s the night in York
One last reminder that tonight is my 7th annual “Hot Stove Baseball Talk” at Zion Lutheran Church, 2215 Brandywine Lane, York Pa. The event starts at 7 p.m. It’s free, although there will be a freewill offering with all proceeds going directly to the church’s youth ministry program.
I am psyched about this year’s guests: MASN broadcaster and former Oriole Mike Bordick and MASN panelist/Sirius XM Radio host Mel Antonen. It’s a great time, and it’s been getting bigger every year.
So, if you live in Southcentral Pennsylvania or Northern Maryland, stop in, see us and ask a question. And, if you can’t make it, we’re hoping to video the event and put some of the clips on this website in the near future.
Some radio highlights
Here’s Tuesday’s radio show if you didn’t get a chance to hear it live. Next week, I’m going to be on at 6 p.m. Monday, a temporary change due to other programming commitments.
Tuesday’s show included a talk with Bordick. Although much of it concentrated on the current Orioles, I did ask him about when he joined the team in 1997, a move that pushed legendary Oriole Cal Ripken Jr. from shortstop to third base.
I figured that experience would be interesting to revisit considering that a slightly similar situation is going on in Pittsburgh now, with Starling Marte moving to center field and the face of the Pirates’ franchise, Andrew McCutchen, leaving center for right.
Bordick weighed in on the subject and explained how it worked in his situation; no surprise, he gives much of the credit to Ripken for handling the move professionally and making it a seamless transition.
It’s definitely worth a listen.