Orioles face difficult decisions in determining a 40-man roster - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Rich Dubroff

Orioles face difficult decisions in determining a 40-man roster

Photo Credit: Joy R. Absalon

On Monday, the Orioles dropped two players from their 40-man roster. One, Carson Fulmer, had been with the Orioles since September 5th when he was selected on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates, who reclaimed the 26-year-old right-hander.

Fulmer had pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the Orioles.

The second was Cody Carroll, who passed through waivers and was sent outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Carroll, who was obtained in the July 2018 trade with the New York Yankees for Zack Britton, allowed 12 runs on nine hits in two innings for a unsightly 54.00 ERA. Carroll will stay at the Bowie alternate site.

Those moves are the beginning of many changes to the 40-man roster, which for the moment has 37 players. One player will be added to the 28-man roster, which has a vacancy with Fulmer gone.

If José Iglesias’ bruised wrist requires more rest, then the Orioles will need infield coverage, and they could again select the contract of Dilson Herrera, who was on the active roster earlier this month and played three games. Infielder Ramón Urias is already on the 40-man roster.

The biggest action will occur after the season when the Orioles have a number of names to consider as additions to the 40-man roster.

Last fall, the Orioles added Keegan Akin, Dean Kremer, outfielder Ryan McKenna and Ryan Mountcastle.

They must return Trey Mancini and infielder Richie Martin, both of whom are on the 60-day injured list, to the 40-man roster. They also could bring back pitcher Kohl Stewart, who opted out of the season for health reasons, and is on the Covid-19 injured list.

Left-handed pitcher Bruce Zimmermann has already been added, and outfielder Yusniel Diaz is a certainty to be added.


Diaz, who came along with Dean Kremer, infielder Rylan Bannon and pitcher Zach Pop from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade on July 18, 2018, was the biggest name in the deal at the time.

Infielder Breyvic Valera also was in the trade, and he played 12 games with the Orioles that year before moving on.

At the time, Diaz was considered the centerpiece of the trade, but he’s been slowed by injuries. This year’s minor league shutdown has delayed Diaz’s promotion to the Orioles. He’s been at major league spring training and then at the Bowie alternate site.

Bannon and Pop are eligible for the Rule 5 draft, too. Bannon, who was a late addition to the alternate site, showed some punch last season when he hit .317 with an .893 OPS in 20 games for Norfolk. Earlier, Bannon hit .255 with eight home runs and 42 RBIs in 110 games for Double-A Bowie.

The Orioles haven’t called him up this season.

Pop, who got off to a strong start last season with the Baysox, allowing just one run in 10 2/3 innings for an 0.84 ERA, needed Tommy John surgery. It would be a risk for a team to draft Pop if he were left unprotected, but it could be tempting.

The much surer bets to be added are pitchers Michael Baumann and Zac Lowther. Baumann, who reportedly suffered an elbow injury at the alternate site in recent weeks, and Lowther would have pitched in Triple-A this season if there had been a minor league season.

Lowther wasn’t added to the player pool until earlier this month because of an oblique injury.

Baumann and Lowther are highly thought of prospects. Baumann was rated as MLB.com’s 27th-ranked prospect in the organization while Lowther was ranked No. 8.

Left-hander Alexander Wells, who was named the team’s top minor league pitcher in 2017, is eligible for the Rule 5 draft for the first time. The 23-year-old Australian was 8-6 with a 2.95 ERA for Bowie in 2019, and allowed just one run in 15 2/3 innings for Surprise in the Arizona Fall League a year ago. He is not part of the 60-man player pool.

Wells, who MLB.com rated as its 28th-leading prospect, has terrific control. He walked just 24 in 137 1/3 innings for the Baysox in 2019.

Reliever Isaac Mattson seems like a decent bet to be protected. Mattson was acquired along with three other pitchers in the December 2019 trade with the Los Angeles Angels for Dylan Bundy.

The 25-year-old right-hander is at the Bowie alternate site and did pitch in five games for Triple-A Salt Lake.

Also Rule 5 eligible for the first time is infielder Mason McCoy, the Orioles’ sixth-round selection in 2017. McCoy raised eyebrows in the organization last season when he hit .379 for High-A Frederick. At Bowie, McCoy hit .266 with two home runs and 31 RBIs. Althoug he received an invitation to major league spring training, McCoy wasn’t part of the 60-man player pool.

Brian Gonzalez might be the most intriguing of all 40-man roster questions. Gonzalez was the Orioles’ third-round draft pick back in 2014 but, because they lost their first- and second-round picks for signing free agents Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz, he was that year’s top selection.

Gonzalez has been Rule 5 eligible twice before, but the left-hander has a higher profile now that he’s been converted to a reliever and made part of the 60-man player pool.

Not only is Gonzalez Rule 5 eligible, he could also be a minor league free agent because he’s spent six full seasons in the organization.

After spending so much time on Gonzalez, the Orioles could lose him to another organization unless he’s either protected on the 40-man roster or re-signed to a minor league contract.

With Executive Vice President/General Manager Mike Elias’ talent pool growing larger, it seems as if they have more contenders and more difficult decisions to make in 2020.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. 33d St

    September 22, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Leblanc, Armstrong, Hess and Kline look like the most likely DFA candidates, barring a trade.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 8:03 am

      LeBlanc is a free agent, 33.

    • ZantiGM

      September 22, 2020 at 8:26 am

      Rogers won’t be protected, haladay, wynns, ruiz?, eshelman? hanhold?

      urias and kohl stewart all these guys are on the bubble do they finally release davis? trade cobb for prospects?

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Neither Josh Rogers nor Eric Hanhold is currently on the 40-man, Phil. Bryan Holaday is a free agent.

  2. Birdman

    September 22, 2020 at 8:24 am

    Rich, are you surprised by the Fulmer move, since he had pitched very well in limited action for the Orioles?

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 9:17 am

      Bird, perhaps the Orioles were just passing Fulmer through waivers ahead of time to clear space for other waiver claims. They’ve gotten almost all their players through without being claimed.

  3. Orial

    September 22, 2020 at 8:49 am

    A lot of mediocre names/talent for me to personally sort out in my aged brain but Hess and Herrera are 2 names that should be moved on from. Not sure what the explanation on Brannon was but with 3rd still looking hollow(yes Ruiz has become sadly an average defender as well as hitter) it would be ashamed for him to slip away. Diaz and don’t forget possible FA(though minor) additions will be added. I’ll pass on the rest–my mind power of collective thinking won’t allow me to contribute more.

  4. Tony Paparella

    September 22, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I have to agree that Elias and the organization have a big task ahead of them. Personally I was hoping that Carson Fulmer would turn out to be a surprise pickup but with things as piled up as they are I guess he was expendable. I have been following Alex Wells for awhile and hope they can hang on to him. Bannon also seems like he may be capable and certainly a few others but its a numbers game and you hope they make the best decisions going forward but in many instances it is a crap shoot.

  5. mmcmillan1123

    September 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

    Glad to see the O’s in this position. Better to have too many prospects than not enough.

  6. Bhoffman1

    September 22, 2020 at 9:57 am

    I kinda thought Elias gave up on McCoy after he slipped when promoted and didn’t hit that well in Arizona. Wouldn’t be have been a better back up choice that Velazquez this year at SS.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Bruce, I think the Orioles really missed Richie Martin. If the team knew Iglesias was going to miss as much time as he did, then perhaps they would have moved differently. Velazquez wasn’t supposed to play as often as he did.

      McCoy is still unproven and Velazquez is a better fielder though he failed offensively.

    • Bhoffman1

      September 22, 2020 at 10:47 am

      Thanks Rich sorry for the typos besides not hitting to me Velazquez arm looked weak. I guess they liked his versatility.

    • CalsPals

      September 22, 2020 at 12:28 pm

      With all Iglesias injuries it makes Ripken’s streak even more amazing…go O’s…

  7. Boog Robinson Robinson

    September 22, 2020 at 10:12 am

    What would it tell us if they were to keep Crush Davis on the 40 man at this point? I mean, is there a logical reason to?

    That being said, I’d be surprised if they were to cut ties just yet.

    • CalsPals

      September 22, 2020 at 3:44 pm

      Agree, unfortunately he’s taking someone’s space, can’t they just keep him off the list & hope someone has a brainfart & puts in a claim for him…go O’s…

  8. willmiranda

    September 22, 2020 at 10:36 am

    In the new process, the O’s have generally traded dubious quality for unknown quantity. Since there are rules limiting quantity, they have to make cuts. This means evaluation, where the front office earns their bucks. It’s more than the Rule 5 draft and worrying about if other teams think our minor leaguers are ready for a year in the bigs. It’s more about who will help the O’s in the near and distant future. We should focus on who are the top ten on our top forty more than who are the bottom ten. Then the second ten. Personally I think it’s hard to pick twenty guys we can’t do without or replace. A problem, in my opinion, is that for many years the O’s have carried too many pitchers, quantity over quality. If you have 12 or 13 pitchers among your 25, it’s hard to see why you have to keep a Richie Martin, for example. Having starters who can pitch m;ore than five good innings and dependable relievers would be a start. Again it’s not about which ones to let go but about which ones to keep. And do they even exist in our organization?

    • Baltimore Castaway

      September 22, 2020 at 11:24 am

      Yours is a perspective that I believe Elias & Company are working hard to get to… IT will be a beautiful think to behold when they do indeed get there.

  9. Baltimore Castaway

    September 22, 2020 at 11:34 am

    This is a better problem to have…

    For the last 15 years or so, the Orioles haven’t had too many difficult decisions to make re: their 40 Man Roster because that lacked a quantity of capable prospects to place on this Roster.

    This franchise is gradually raising towards the top of MLB Talent Bases. Most put the Orioles in the Top 12, some in the Top 15.

    They are not going to be able to protect all the prospects that they will want to. Maybe they will lose a Zack Pop or an Alex Wells or a Mason McCoy or a Bruce Zimmerman. I choose to view this positively. When another teams pick your guys who are just outside your Top Prospect Base it is a sure sign that they are getting closer to being able to compete w the best Franchises in MLB..

    Already looking forward to 2021..

  10. mlbbirdfan

    September 22, 2020 at 11:40 am

    Rich, I found the Orioles current 40-man roster. Can you Please confirm that this is the correct list from mlb.com? Also, please post a link to the 60 man roster. What does it mean when a player “Becomes eligible for the rule-5 draft“? We can protect the player, but doing so puts him on the 60-man pool? Or the 40-man roster? Which? Do you want to post your own prediction about these 60 players who will be protected by the Orioles?

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      MLB, the 60-man pool is for this season only. The Orioles can protect only the players on their 40-man roster. MLB.com’s roster is correct. LeBlanc, Mancini and Martin are on the 60-day IL and don’t count in the 40. Stewart is on the Covid list because he opted out and doesn’t count.
      These four are not in the 60-man pool.

      The non-40 man players in the 60-man are Taylor Davis, Adley Rutschman, DL Hall, Grayson Rodriguez, Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann, Yusniel Diaz, Victor Gonzalez, Eric Hanhold, Cody Carroll, Mishael Deson, Isaac DeLeon, Dilson Herrera, Isaac Mattson, Rylan Bannon, Dwight Smith Jr., Kyle Bradish, Brian Gonzalez, Kevin Smith, Gunnar Henderson and Terrin Vavra.
      Players signed at age 18 or younger have to be added to the 40-man within five seasons or else the can be drafted. Players signed at age 19 or higher must be added to the 40-man within four seasons.

      • mlbbirdfan

        September 22, 2020 at 2:06 pm

        Thorough response and quickly, thank you Rich!!

  11. mlbbirdfan

    September 22, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    Here’s the link to the current 40 man roster.


    I believe this roster has 27 major league names, 7 minor-league names and 7 on the IL. Rich says 3 of the IL players do not count. That still leaves 38. Rich says 37. Help please …

    • ClayDal

      September 22, 2020 at 6:44 pm

      Kohl Stewart is listed on the 10 day IL instead of the 45 day (60)IL. Since Stewart opted out of the season, he shouldn’t count on the 40 man roster.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 9:57 pm

      John, Stewart isn’t on the 40-man. He’s on the Covid injured list. MLB.com and BaseballReference.com have him listed on the 10-day IL.

  12. JamesJerry2

    September 22, 2020 at 9:17 pm

    Hey Rich, what MLB.com prospect list are you referring to? From what I see, MLB has Baumann at 9, Lowther 11, and Wells 20

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 22, 2020 at 9:54 pm

      I was using the list on RosterResource.com.

  13. Behemoth

    September 23, 2020 at 1:22 am

    I recall last year there was concern about leaving Cody Sedlock and even Gray Fenter unprotected. Interesting that they have been passed by so many other more worthy candidates for the 40-man, but they too have to be reconsidered this year.

    The shortened season makes me wish the Orioles hadn’t returned their Rule 5 picks so early in spring training, you have to figure it would have been easier to get through a 60 game season with one of those guys.

    • Rich Dubroff

      September 23, 2020 at 9:55 am

      Behemoth, I thought about including Sedlock, Fenter and even Brenan Hanifee, but I can’t imagine them protecting more than five or six.

      It would have been easier hanging on to a Rule 5 guy this year, but they didn’t know this would happen.

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