Final Spring Training Primer: Opening Day roster basically finalized; four to be moved to 40-man; Rule 5 picks Cortes, Araujo to go north -

Spring Training

Final Spring Training Primer: Opening Day roster basically finalized; four to be moved to 40-man; Rule 5 picks Cortes, Araujo to go north

What’s happening? – The Orioles’ 25-man roster is basically complete, barring any last-minute changes or signings.

It appears four non-roster players will make the team: Outfielders Craig Gentry and Colby Rasmus, designated hitter Pedro Alvarez and corner infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia.

Space on the 40-man roster must be made for all four, but the Orioles can wait until noon Thursday to do that.

The Orioles, at least initially, will carry three Rule 5 picks, including outfielder Anthony Santander, who was selected in December 2016 from the Cleveland Indians and must stay in the majors for at least 44 consecutive days to satisfy his Rule 5 requirement.

The other two must remain with the Orioles this season or be offered back to their original clubs: Right-handed reliever Pedro Araujo, who was drafted away from the Chicago Cubs organization and has just two innings of experience in Double-A, and Nestor Cortes Jr., who was selected from the New York Yankees and will be the second left-hander in the Orioles’ bullpen.

That leaves Mike Wright Jr., and Miguel Castro to claim the two remaining spots on the 12-man pitching staff. They’ll both go into the bullpen, but one likely will make a start or two in early April while newly signed right-hander Alex Cobb gets stretched out in the minors.

Rookie Chance Sisco made the team as a backup catcher after an outstanding offensive spring. His defense needs work, but his shot to go to Baltimore was helped immeasurably because the Orioles needed additional left-handed hitters.

“I did what I could control, I guess,” Sisco said. “I didn’t really know what to expect coming into camp. I knew I had a shot and knew there were other guys competing for the spot as well. I came in ready to go from Day One. That was my goal, coming into camp, to make the team. Now I’m just here to help the team win some games.”

** The expected 25-man Opening Day roster, not including injured players such as Mark Trumbo, Zach Britton and Gabriel Ynoa, is as follows:


Catchers (2): Caleb Joseph, Chance Sisco.

Infielders (6): Chris Davis, Jonathan Schoop, Manny Machado, Tim Beckham, Danny Valencia, Pedro Alvarez.

Outfielders (5): Trey Mancini, Adam Jones, Colby Rasmus, Anthony Santander, Craig Gentry.

Starting pitchers (4): Dylan Bundy, Andrew Cashner, Kevin Gausman, Chris Tillman.

Relievers (8): Brad Brach, Darren O’Day, Mychal Givens, Richard Bleier, Pedro Araujo, Nestor Cortes Jr., Miguel Castro, Mike Wright Jr.

** Third baseman Tim Beckham, who injured his groin Thursday, is still expected to be ready for Opening Day. Assuming Beckham is healthy, the Orioles won’t use a traditional utility infielder to start the season.

Valencia doesn’t play middle infield, but if an infielder needs a rest or gets hurt within a game, Valencia can play third base and Beckham could move to shortstop or second base.

The Orioles had some interest in re-signing former utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, who opted out of his minor league deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. Flaherty, however, has reportedly decided to sign a big league deal with the Atlanta Braves. He’ll be reunited with his brother-in-law, Nick Markakis (their wives are sisters).

** Andrew Cashner starts for the Orioles this afternoon as they play their Triple-A team in Norfolk, Va. While the Orioles will leave Sarasota in the morning and continue on to Baltimore after the game, the Tides return to Florida to conclude spring training.

Cashner, Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman will start – in that order — after Dylan Bundy works the season opener Thursday against the Minnesota Twins. Manager Buck Showalter isn’t sure about his temporary fifth starter.

Cobb could be ready to pitch as soon as April 9 or potentially April 14, if they want to extend Cobb to six innings in the minors before he’s activated. Cobb worked three innings in a simulated game in Sarasota on Sunday.

** Center fielder Adam Jones, who was away from the club this weekend due to a family matter, is expected to rejoin the club for today’s game.

What’s happened? – In the Orioles’ final Grapefruit League game Sunday against Philadelphia in Clearwater, Fla., Cortes allowed a run on four hits in three innings and Castro pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and striking out six.

Despite the obvious math, Cortes said he hasn’t been told he’s officially on the team.

“I’d rather hear the news and celebrate after,” Cortes said. “I don’t want to take anything for granted.”

Showalter felt that Castro’s stuff was excellent.

“That’s about as sharp as you want to see a pitcher in the spring,” Showalter said. “That was fun. He’s ready to go.”

** To finish off the roster maneuvering during the weekend, outfielder Austin Hays was optioned to Double-A Bowie, and catcher Andrew Susac and infielder Engelb Vielma were optioned to Norfolk. All are currently on the 40-man roster.

Left-handed pitchers Josh Edgin and Joely Rodriguez, infielder Luis Sardinas and outfielders Cedric Mullins and Alex Presley were reassigned to minor league camp. None was on the 40-man roster.

What’s up with? – Edgin and Rodriguez combined to allow just two runs on 10 hits in 17 1/3 innings, but neither made the team.

“Neither one of them did anything not to make the club,” Showalter said. “Both of those guys have a chance to help us.”

Edgin and Rodriguez, both signed to minor league deals this winter, will go to Triple-A Norfolk.

What’s what? – Araujo’s addition is one of the unlikeliest in team history. Not only was he the least publicized and experienced of the Rule 5 draft choices, he had to beat out two other Rule 5 players, as well as pitchers with substantial major league experience.

Araujo, 24, is probably the longest shot to make the Orioles since right-hander Randor Bierd, a Rule 5 draft pick who played in 2008 for a team that was much weaker.

The Orioles hope Araujo will be better than Bierd, who was 0-2 with a 4.91 in 29 games. It was his only major league season.

What’s the word – “There’s that potential. It’s something we’ve been looking at since last year.” – Manager Buck Showalter on whether Chris Davis, who led off several times this spring, could do that during the regular season.

What’s the number? – 17. That’s the second most wins the Orioles have had in the nine years they’ve trained in Sarasota. In 2013, they went 19-9-4.

What’s the record? – 17-12-2.  They have one last exhibition game that doesn’t count in the annual spring standings before arriving in Baltimore. The Orioles face the Tides today with right-handed prospect Yefri Ramirez on the mound for Norfolk.

Rich Dubroff covers the Orioles for You can read his stories here.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 26, 2018 at 7:26 am

    I’m disappointed that Hayes didn’t make the opening day roster, although I’m sure we’ll see him in the not so distant future. Dan, would this decision have anything to do with not starting the clock on his big league career / team control window? He did play a bit back in September and I’m not sure how all that works out. Can’t wait for Thursday … this team has some serious potential.

    Go O’s!!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Sure, service time is often a factor. Plus, Buck likes what he has in OF and Santander’s status and spring performance is a factor too.

  2. Eldersburg Enigma

    March 26, 2018 at 8:15 am

    Why is Hays going to Bowie rather than Norfolk? So that he stays close by? Seems like a bizarre move.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 9:47 am

      They did it before with Mancini. They like guys getting a good chunk at levels and they feel like he has some things to work on. Plus they have lots of guys at AAA they want to look at so there’s no PT crunch. These days I’m not sure the level matters much.

  3. Orial

    March 26, 2018 at 8:47 am

    No real surprises on opening day roster. Things should get interesting when Trumbo returns. Too bad about Presley.he played his tail off. Gentry better keep an eye on him., A little disappointed by Hays,Mullins. Hays seemed over anxious,Mullins isn’t making that next step. Generally feel a bit more optimistic leading into Thurs.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 9:52 am

      I think the young OFers will be fine. All a learning curve.

  4. Bancells Moustache

    March 26, 2018 at 9:50 am

    Hays will be back in a few weeks. That he is around the corner in Bowie and not Norfolk all but guarantees that.

    Interesting decision on Castro, curious if this means he is the long man or they plan on having him start. The chances of a Chris Tillman meltdown are concerning, and Castro looks like best of the remaining candidates. I don’t get the logic of putting a lesser arm in the rotation because you want to keep a better option in long relief, but what do I know…

    I’ve been saying the past couple weeks that Sisco looked a man who wanted to not just make the team, but to be a starter. I’m a big fan of trial by fire. Put him behind the dish against the big boys and lets see the goods. Its not like anybody runs in the Major Leagues anyhow…

    For those who have yet to go the Yard, you may be displeased by the new baseline to baseline netting. I don’t like it. I get why its there and all, though I also think the spectators are as much to blame. Felt like I was at the zoo or something, and you can forget about Chris Davis flipping the third out to your kid anymore.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 10:44 am

      I’m not jumping the gun here on Sisco. It’s really hard to be a food defensive MLB catcher and hit. Baby steps are fine now that he is up imo.

  5. garyintheloo

    March 26, 2018 at 10:30 am

    A disappointing winter may lead to an encouraging spring. While the Os still have plenty of suspects I am encouraged by their pitching options and the prospect of the team opening a new window as this one closes. I wrote previously that I won’t comment once the season starts until the end but I’ll change that an renew my MLBTV subscription. The team doesn’t need to make the playoffs for me this year but they sure need to show they are moving forward. Could say the same about the Cardinals too. Let’s go Os!

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 10:45 am

      Well I’m glad you are breaking the moratorium and will continue to comment. Better for all of us.

  6. Birdman

    March 26, 2018 at 10:39 am

    Like the decision to keep Araujo, but am concerned what happens in 2-3 weeks when Cobb is ready … sure hope they don’t lose Araujo back to the Cubs in order to keep Wright … if we are looking at who is more likely to help the team over the next several years, I think the odds favor Araujo over Wright ( I would even keep Araujo over Tillman, but I know the O’s won’t consider that).

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Keep in mind that Castro has a minor league option and starting is in his future. He’ll need to pitch well too.

  7. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    March 26, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I actually thought Joely Rodriguez pitched his way onto the team. He is a hard throwing lefty. Also, I believe Bleier still has an option and Rodriguez can opt-out of his contract. Hopefully we can retain him.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm

      Joely did. But sometimes there’s no room at the inn. Given that he spent the second half of the season at AAA and didn’t get called up in Texas and the Orioles rep of shuttling, I can’t imagine a better spot for Rodriguez if he is gonna be in the minors. We will see him at Camden Yards this year if he stays healthy. Buck wants a power lefty in the Pen.

  8. DauerPower

    March 26, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    Dan, who do you expect to be dropped from the 40 man to make room for the 4? Or was that a teaser for tomorrow’s column?

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 12:16 pm

      No. Honestly I don’t like speculating on guys losing their jobs. 25-man is one thing. 40-man is a little more impacting. I’ve done it before and when I get it wrong it causes problems/bad will. But if you look at the current 40 man — and I have — there are 4 or 5 that seem in obvious jeopardy.

    • Jbigle1

      March 26, 2018 at 6:54 pm

      I’m guessing Vielma, ynoa, Rickard (we have a lot of outfield depth) , and lets say Michael Kelly. We’ll see how close I am. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about the bad will.

  9. Ron Moats

    March 26, 2018 at 12:18 pm

    Buck said in an interview early in spring training that he would be keeping the top performers but he seems to have forgotten that. I question keeping Mike Wright who had a terrible spring and his track record is poor at best. I don’t see this helping our bullpen as much as at least two relievers sent to Norfolk who performed much better in the spring one of which has a 5 yr track record of performing well in the Bigs.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 12:23 pm

      Fair enough. I hear ya. But Wright has been pretty good in the minors and is out of options. I don’t have a problem with one more shot on that arm and then punting if he struggles again in the majors for a month or more this year. Remember, in spring Wright is normally pitching in the first few innings when all of the primary hitters are in. Relievers often face the reserves in later innings, so spring numbers comparatively can be a little misleading.

  10. willmiranda

    March 26, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I’m really jacked about Davis leading off, being a believer in the leadoff batter curse: if a pitcher strikes out the leadoff batter in the first inning, that pitcher will not win the the game, and the batter’s team will probably win. Urban legend? Perhaps, but Buck is always looking for an edge.

    • Dan Connolly

      March 26, 2018 at 1:35 pm

      Are you making the assumption that Davis will strike out in that first at-bat?

      • willmiranda

        March 26, 2018 at 2:48 pm

        Strikeouts are inevitable, but timing is everything.

  11. AlaskanOsFan

    March 27, 2018 at 2:27 am

    DC I was curious if like in Sept they expand the rosters for all teams that maybe the MLB try doing that for the first month of the season that way it could reduce injuries or allow teams to get more in rhythm and pitching staffs in order? Just a thought although probably not since it would effect the minor league system.

  12. AlaskanOsFan

    March 27, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Also was wondering if u will continue your podcasts and if there were any other Os related ‘casts that I could listen to during the season? Being stationed in Alaska I am stuck listening to the garbage Mariners too often 🙁

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