One-time roster changes could lead to unexpected Orioles in 2020 -

Rich Dubroff

One-time roster changes could lead to unexpected Orioles in 2020

If health conditions allow and Major League Baseball and the Players Association reach agreement on financial terms for a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, there will be a number of interesting components.

One is roster size. There are reports that there will be a 30-man roster with a 20-player taxi squad.

There are many questions. What will be the makeup of a 30-man roster? When baseball and the Players Association agreed on a 26-man roster for 2020, a limit of 13 pitchers was imposed.

Most teams had been carrying 13 pitchers on a 25-man roster, and it meant adding a position player. With 30 players, would there be a limit of pitchers?

A second training period would likely be between two and three weeks and, because there possibly will be three months between the initial spring training and the restart, conditioning will be different.

Pitchers were building up to Opening Day, which was two weeks away when play was suspended on March 12.

No Oriole starter had completed more than three innings during the 18 days of games. A month from now, John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone aren’t likely to be ready to pitch much longer than that.

There’s a need for larger pitching staffs. If there’s an 82-game season, managers probably will opt for short starts. Although pitchers have been working out, they can’t replicate game conditions.

What wouldn’t be surprising is the addition of pitchers who appeared to have little chance of making the 26-man squad. Including Trey Mancini, who will start the season on the injured list, the Orioles have 50 players on the spring training roster.


Several of the pitchers were non-roster invitees and seemingly had little chance of making a 26-man roster but could be valuable on a larger roster or a taxi squad. They include Ty Blach, Thomas Eshelman and Chandler Shepherd.

All three started for the Orioles last year and could become long relievers, because managers are likely to be paying even more attention to pitch counts.

Other pitchers not on the 40-man roster who could be helpful include Branden Kline, who made frequent stops between the minor leagues and the Orioles last season, and Rob Zastryzny, who has brief experience in the major leagues.

Kohl Stewart, who was signed as a free agent last December 29 and is on the 40-man roster, could find a way, too.

We don’t know how the option rules will work for a possible revamped season. This season, pitchers were supposed to stay in the minor leagues for 15 days after option, up from 10 last season. They were also supposed to stay on the injured list for 15 days, also up from 10.

Position players could still be recalled from the minors after 10 days and activated from the injured list after 10 days.

With a shorter season and a taxi squad, perhaps more liberal use of options will be permitted.

It seemed as if manager Brandon Hyde had difficult decisions on the final members of his bullpen. Shawn Armstrong, Richard Bleier, Miguel Castro, Paul Fry, Mychal Givens and Hunter Harvey were frontrunners for the first six spots.

The leading candidates for the other two spots included Cody Carroll, non-roster right-hander Eric Hanhold, Travis Lakins, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser, Dillon Tate and Hector Velazquez, who had been acquired four days before the shutdown and had yet to pitch for the Orioles.

With four extra roster spots and a large taxi squad, many of these pitchers could see action for the Orioles this season.

My biggest question is: Will there be an expansion in the 40-man roster? If there are 50 players, including 20 on the taxi squad, it wouldn’t make any sense for a team to add a non-roster starter or long reliever like Blach, Eshelman, Shepherd or Zastryzny and remove a prospect from the 40-man.

Extra position players on the 30-man could lead to a pinch-running specialist. Cedric Mullins, who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, could be a candidate.

The guess here is that there will be special rules for this season on the roster, the schedule and everything else.

If there is a 2020 season, it will be the year of the asterisk.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. CalsPals

    May 15, 2020 at 7:15 am

    The year of the asteRISK is an awesome understatement…keep up the good work Rich…go O’s….

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    May 15, 2020 at 8:21 am

    Thanks Rich … how do you do this every day? The amount of speculation regarding our game and this season is somewhat mind boggling.

    50 man rosters … pinch running specialists (Gene Washington anymore?) … A Universal DH …. fan-less games …. re-aligned divisions and possibly even the mixing of leagues …. expanded playoffs in a short season year (yeah ..THAT makes sense) … 3 batter minimums … ZERO visits to the mound during a game … pregame temperature checks … no video replays (at least they got that one right) ….. reduction of the minor league teams as well as rounds in the draft … no press in the clubhouse …… extra inning rule changes to include the possibility of tie games … the elimination of 1st & 3rd base coaches …. showers and bathrooms available only in shifts (really? Think about that one for a minute) … no spitting of seeds or tobacco on the bench … cats and dogs living together.

    These are proposals I’ve read recently, mostly tied to baseballs reaction to COVID 19 (well not the cats and dogs thing … I stole that from you know where)

    I have one suggestion of my own …and I know its blasphemy … but perhaps this is the year to test the robotic calling of balls and strikes? I mean what the heck … this season is a joke already.

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      May 15, 2020 at 8:30 am

      And before any of you trivia geeks correct me … it was HERB Washington that I was thinking of above.

      • Rmays

        May 18, 2020 at 9:36 am

        I’m dizzy just thinking of all that stuff.

    • CalsPals

      May 15, 2020 at 8:39 am

      Saw that Boog, no wide receivers here, lol, great pts…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 15, 2020 at 8:50 am

      Ken, the amount of intrigue and speculation give me plenty to write about. It’s easier to find things to write about now than it sometimes is during the winter.

    • OriolesNumber1Fan

      May 15, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      I didn’t hear the no video replay being considered. Taking that away would be stupid. I heard they would start the automated ball and strike calls (Finally!!!). Not having that now would also be stupid. Hell why not have the Orioles start a game automatically losing 5 – 0 since they won’t get a fair chance with any calls close or otherwise. We can have Orioles being called out on third strikes like the totally bogus call on Robby Alomar call years ago. Pitch was in the other batters box for crying out loud. Jeters home run with the help of Jeffrey Maier, hell we could have that on all close home runs as well. Since MLB has a hard on for the Orioles already with the MASN deal and no All Star game. No salary cap is already killing the Orioles to be competitive with the likes of the yank its and boosox and having to play them both nearly 40 games. Draft now just 5 rounds! Why not have a sweep and take that totally away as well.

    • CalsPals

      May 16, 2020 at 6:42 am

      Yikes, someone didn’t take their meds…go O’s…

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        May 16, 2020 at 9:57 am


        Be nice now … lol … tooooo funny.

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        May 16, 2020 at 6:41 pm

        Didn’t say anything that wasn’t true! True Oriole fans would and should gripe about what I stated. And not pick on Orioles gm or how they conduct their business affairs.

        • Boog Robinson Robinson

          May 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

          A lot of what you said was opinion … not ‘truth’. Not that I disagree with you on a few of the points mind you, but why exactly, does a ‘true Oriole fan’ have to agree with you?

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            May 18, 2020 at 7:36 pm

            MLB has a major gripe with the MASN deal, fact. They even lent the Nats $$$ so they can sign players, fact. They moved them into the Orioles territory from Montral with the MASN deal the only option for Angelos to have as a consolation and now they want to bake on this by trying to bankrupt the MASN network, fact. They had a 3 team panel to decide against the Orioles that had all 3 teams defense attorneys the same as MLB’s, fact. Jeters homer was a totally bad call that went against the Orioles, fact. Called third strike against Orioles second baseman Robbie Alomar was another bad call in the other batters box, fact. Stop me when it became just my opinion. The only opinion I could be leading to is- I don’t trust any umpires “opinion” of the strike zone when it comes to the Orioles. And the same goes with their “opinion” on the home run calls when it’s against the Orioles. And I don’t trust MLB for the obvious reason for what they have done to the Orioles and continuing to do. All valid reasons for true Oriole fans to not trust MLB or their hired umpires.

          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            May 18, 2020 at 8:06 pm

            And actually all die hard Oriole fans like myself that I know, agree with me and what I said. So where does this leave you???

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            May 18, 2020 at 10:07 pm

            I just glad that most Oriole Fans are a bit more open minded than some others.


          • OriolesNumber1Fan

            May 19, 2020 at 8:26 am

            I’m open minded but not when it comes to MLB and they’re umpires. And all Oriole fans I know agree with me. You want to be gullible thinking otherwise be my guest.

    • willmiranda

      May 16, 2020 at 10:54 am

      The robots will have to be tested for viruses. Norton, anyone?

    • CalsPals

      May 16, 2020 at 7:43 pm

      Sorry, I should’ve known you’re always right…I toast to you w/the orange kool-aid… go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      May 19, 2020 at 7:28 am

      I’m guessing when numero uno says things are stupid are facts, not opinions, has anyone seen uno or Elias at the same time…hmmm…go O’s…

      • OriolesNumber1Fan

        May 20, 2020 at 6:49 pm

        Your boy toy said a lot of what I said was my opinion. I stated my ONLY opinion would be MLB and their umpire crews “opinions/calls” would all go against the Orioles as recent history HAS showed!

    • CalsPals

      May 20, 2020 at 9:08 pm

      Mike, why do you need to get so personal…lmao…go O’s…

  3. Orial

    May 15, 2020 at 8:35 am

    Now that there’s a glimmer of a “season” putting together a 30 man roster has some credence going forward. Rich my cocern is that there will be no minor league games(am I correct on that one?) Being that the O’s are building for the future and have all their marbles in developement that is as severe if not more than NO big league season. I’d almost sacrifice major League ball for a half season of A,AA,AAA baseball.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 15, 2020 at 8:49 am

      I would assume that there would be extended spring games at training complexes in lieu of minor league ball. Players have to hone skills, face competition, and they’d face other teams. The players from the taxi squad could play there.

  4. BobKominski

    May 15, 2020 at 11:37 am

    There is a strong possibility that anyone who is not part of the “big 50” would be sent to spring training complexes. There would be no minor league season. Instead, all players at the complexes would train/play together, maybe in daily intrasquads, or maybe eventually in games against one another. This would be the precursor to implementing the ‘academy system’ that our own GM has been such a strong advocate of, and started developing in Houston. Since MLB has already eliminated 40 minor league teams for next year, the academies are likely a fixture for baseball in the future. This just gives MLB an opportunity to start developing the systems this year. It’s pretty interesting the way that MLB has turned this disaster into a way to implement and crowbar so many things it has been “thinking about” for so long.

    • willmiranda

      May 16, 2020 at 10:55 am

      Didn’t Charlie Finley have an academy?

  5. cedar

    May 15, 2020 at 11:58 am

    Is there info on how the players on the 20 man taxi squad would accrue service time? Would that impact any decisions on having Mountcastle and others on the squad?

    • CalsPals

      May 15, 2020 at 1:08 pm

      Of course it will (insert sarcasm), like all teams won’t take advantage of this if they can…go O’s…

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 15, 2020 at 2:02 pm

      All of this is speculative, cedar.

  6. Rmays

    May 15, 2020 at 12:59 pm

    I would not be surprised if the first couple picks from last year, and perhaps most of the picks from last year were stashed close by, They would love to find a way to get a good look, work them out & coach them up.

    • Rich Dubroff

      May 15, 2020 at 2:03 pm

      Randy, I think the top picks from last year will work out with the other minor leaguers. They won’t be rushed.

  7. NormOs

    May 15, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    50 players on the spring training roster and not one Major Leaguer among the 50. Pitching– Cobb, nobody really knows if he will pitch again. John Means, one year. Hunter Harvey, one/half year. After that ……..NOTHING! This is how you lose 120+ games. Let’s hope Genius 1 can come up with some kind plan sometime in the not to distant future…………….Go O’s

    • CalsPals

      May 15, 2020 at 8:50 pm

      Working on the #1 pick next yr…lol…go O’s….

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