One of the best indicators of what other teams think of an organization’s system is to see what happens when certain players are put on waivers.
Teams may not want to trade for a player, but if it only costs a waiver claim and a prorated minimum salary, then maybe it’s worth a shot.
The Orioles haven’t had the best track record over the years in this regard, holding onto a guy on the 40-man roster too long because of the fear of losing a player no one wanted anyway.
About a dozen years ago, the Orioles carried three bad catchers on the 25-man roster for months for fear of losing one or two. Ultimately, two went through waivers and weren’t touched.
Under Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter, the roster management has been better – for the most part. Although there is the occasional transaction that makes me scratch my head.
We had one of those occasions this week.
On Wednesday, the last day to acquire players for a postseason roster, Duquette made a flurry of moves – primarily focused on building depth in the bullpen and the outfield.
He traded minor league lefty Zach Phillips to the Pittsburgh Pirates for lefty Kyle Lobstein – and, to make room for Lobstein, designated lefty Ashur Tolliver for assignment.
Duquette then designated Lobstein for assignment to claim outfielder Drew Stubbs off waivers and then moved Joey Rickard to the 60-day disabled list when Duquette traded a minor leaguer for veteran outfielder Michael Bourn.
There was the potential for the Orioles to lose three lefty relievers in one flurry from an organization that needs quality left-handed specialists.
I promised to reserve judgment – on losing the lefties and adding two reserve outfielders — until it all shook out.
And now it has.
Lobstein cleared waivers Saturday and was out-righted to Triple-A Norfolk. There’s a possibility he could be added to the 40-man roster again. But, when the minor league season ends this week, Lobstein also could go to the minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla., and work out — an insurance policy in case lefties Donnie Hart, Jayson Aquino and, eventually, Brian Duensing, run into trouble in the majors.
“We discussed that today. I know he’s not on the roster,” Showalter said about plans for Lobstein, 27. “At the very worst, they are going to ask him to go to Sarasota camp. Think that’s Dan’s plan.”
So the Orioles traded for a lefty they probably won’t use.
A little more befuddling, they exposed Tolliver to waivers, and lost him to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday. That’s particularly interesting, because the Angels had the fourth highest waiver claim. So he only got through three other teams before being grabbed.
It’s not surprising another club was interested in Toliver, an Orioles’ fifth rounder in 2009 who battled injury and ineffectiveness and finally made the majors this year at 28. It was a brief look, but he seemed like he could hang in a big league bullpen.
Tolliver allowed three earned runs in five games for the Orioles this year, but had a combined 1.94 ERA in 31 games through the minors and majors in 2016. He recently had been removed from the minor league disabled list with a hamstring injury when he was designated.
And now he is with another organization.
“It’s disappointing, but he’s going to get a good opportunity for the Angels,” Showalter said. “Knowing Ashur, that’s something he deserves. He’s a guy that can help. (I’m) sure they’ll like him.”
Ultimately, Tolliver may prove to be a fringe major leaguer and these moves become incidental.
But they just strike me as odd – especially since Lobstein had been designated earlier in the week by the Pirates and then passed through waivers by the Orioles. Obviously, the Pirates couldn’t have traded him — no team took him for free — so he eventually would have been placed on waivers by the Pirates.
So with a little patience, the Orioles could have claimed Lobstein and kept Tolliver and Phillips in the organization, and would have only had to make one 40-man move.
Instead, there was a flurry of transactions — and I guess it it’ll take some time before we know if any of them make a difference.