Reviewing Orioles' 40-man roster moves as spring training nears -

Rich Dubroff

Reviewing Orioles’ 40-man roster moves as spring training nears

Photo Credit of Yusniel Diaz: Joy R. Absalon

When spring training opens, the Orioles might look different than they do today.

In 2020, they added three players claimed on waivers between late January and spring training — infielder Pat Valaika, pitcher Travis Lakins and infielder Ramón Urias. They also signed two pitchers to minor league contracts — left-handers Wade LeBlanc and Tommy Milone.

Transaction-wise, things have been quiet for executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias in recent weeks.

There was last Friday’s 17-player international signing class, and the agreement with first baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini on a 2021 contract for $4.75 million.

The team didn’t reach an agreement with arbitration-eligible outfielder Anthony Santander, who’s seeking $2.475 million. The Orioles offered $2.1 million, and Elias said he’ll head to his first arbitration hearing.

At least three position players from last season’s team are gone — shortstop José Iglesias, who was traded to the Los Angeles Angels, second baseman Hanser Alberto, who wasn’t offered a contract,  and first baseman/designated hitter Renato Núñez,  was released on November 23rd.

It’s possible that the replacements for all three are already on the roster, although the Orioles continue to look for shortstops.

Richie Martin, who missed last season because of a broken right wrist, could be the starting shortstop, although it would be a surprise if at least one other candidate wasn’t found between now and February 16th, the scheduled start of spring training in Sarasota, Florida.

Alberto’s likely replacement is Yolmer Sánchez, who was claimed on waivers from the Chicago White Sox on October 30th.


Núñez’s spot on the roster is expected to be taken by Mancini, who missed the 2020 season after colon cancer surgery.

In addition to Sánchez, there are three new position players on the 40-man roster — infielder Rylan Bannon, outfielder Yusniel Diaz, both added from the Orioles’ minor leagues, and first baseman/outfielder Chris Shaw, claimed on waivers from San Francisco on November 25th.

There’s been more movement among the pitchers. Seven pitchers have been added to the 40-man roster since the end of last season.

Right-handers Michael Baumann and Isaac Mattson and left-handers Zac Lowther and Alexander Wells were added to the 40-man roster from the minors. Two other right-handers, Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells, were taken in the Rule 5 draft, and right-hander Ashton Goudeau was claimed on waivers from Pittsburgh.

Thomas Eshelman, who lost his place on the 40-man roster when Shaw was claimed, tried his hand at free agency and re-signed with the Orioles this week.

Although six players were added to the 40-man roster, it’s not likely any will begin 2021 with the Orioles but it’s possible all  will play with the team during the season.

The Orioles need to see what Diaz can do, and it’s been more than 2 ½ years since he was the centerpiece of the Manny Machado trade to the Los Angeles Dodgers in July 2018.

Ryan McKenna, an outfielder who was new to the 40-man roster last year, needs a look, too.

However, the Orioles seem solid with outfielders. Santander, Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle, Cedric Mullins and DJ Stewart could be the group beginning the season.

Mancini, Mountcastle, and Chris Davis could vie for playing time at first. A designated hitter should come out of the first base/outfield group.

Another area that could be unchanged is catching. Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco look again to be the top two catchers to begin 2021.

Last season, Bryan Holaday, who recently signed a minor league contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, was on the roster for much of the year. That was with a 28-man roster, and it’s possible that with health concerns still paramount because of Covid-19 that an expanded roster will be the rule again.

In December, the Orioles outrighted Austin Wynns, who didn’t play with the team in 2020. He’s still in the organization.

Last month, the team added Nick Ciuffo, who signed a minor league contract. Ciuffo played 19 games with Tampa Bay in 2018 and 2019, so it’s possible the Orioles could add another catcher on a minor league contract between now and February 16th.

The possible addition of Adley Rutschman, Diaz, Bannon and some of the pitchers later this year will add to roster intrigue, but not immediately. In Elias’ first two years, Hays, Mountcastle, Santander, Sisco and Stewart all began seasons in the minor leagues, only to be promoted later.

With a free-agent market that’s been slow and an enormous number of players still available, Elias could make several moves in the next month and add competition for starting pitching, the infield and even catching.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB




  1. CalsPals

    January 21, 2021 at 9:49 am

    Semantics, but I wouldn’t call Severino or Sisco the top two catchers, but they’ll be there…go O’s…

  2. Tony Paparella

    January 21, 2021 at 10:15 am

    Good assessment of where the Birds are at this point for us fans. Would like to see Bannon and Diaz get a shot to see what they have.You mention Adley as a possibility late in the year snd that would be awesome. Just hope they don’t drag their feet bringing some of these guys up though the outfield looks to be a highly competitive area despite Santander, Hays, and Mountcastle ( along with Mullins) seeming to good fits right now. I am thinking Chris Davis days are numbered and this may be the year they drop him. It would be a surprise if he was able to snap back, something he has been unable to do the past 3-4 years.I have been looking at Chris Shaw stats and he looks like a power guy but BA and strikeouts could do him in. He was drafted in first round by the Giants. Maybe we can get even for the Yazstremski deal, lol.I myself am not crazy about where the Orioles are at 2nd, third, and short. Nobody can hit for average from what they have and you may get by with Sanchez glove at second the other positions going to need people that can contribute offensively.Allso seems like a lot of pitching to sort out and a lot of decisions to be made so hope things get started soon.I don’t know that they need to pick up a veteran .500 ( maybe) starter with all the prospects that are available.Might want to give those guys a shot though if they don’t pan out the fans could get more restless. But there is only one way to find out.

  3. Boog Robinson Robinson

    January 21, 2021 at 10:28 am

    A silver lining. Rich only mentioned Chris Davis one time in this article.

    • CalsPals

      January 21, 2021 at 12:08 pm

      LMAO, one time too many…go O’s…

  4. NormOs

    January 21, 2021 at 4:57 pm

    Good article Rich. Waivers (=non-tradable) mentioned too many times. Eshaman tried FA, didn’t work, so he comes back here? So what are we now, a fallback solution? Again no mention of major league players that the O’s are interested in. So nobody is surprised by this? So, as far as I’m concerned, Genius 1 ain’t done crap to improve this team. .500 is a way far in the distance which can’t be seen with the naked eye. I guess he’ll be very satified with,say, 60 and 102 Can we just imagine what this infield is going to look like…..Rant ended, but I feel better.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      January 21, 2021 at 5:14 pm

      The free agency market has been extremely slow. The Orioles have interest in players but they are going to get them for their price or not at all. Often players are added just before or during spring training. Have patience, they’ll make some moves.

    • WorldlyView

      January 21, 2021 at 6:49 pm

      Norm, it is an understatement to say that “waivers” was mentioned too many times in Rich’s article. Out of curiosity, I tried to identify how many players on the current 40-man roster were acquired via waivers, minor league contracts, or Rule 5 draft. I would argue that such players by definition possess anemic or non-existent MLB credentials. The total was 17–nearly half the roster– 11 pitchers and 6 infielders. This in turn suggests 3 scenarios, the first two being long shots. First, near-term signings of high achieving major league free agents lead to a winning or near-winning 2021 season. Second, a winning or near-winning season with the current motley roster, in which case Elias would have to be recognized as a true genius in spotting overlooked or unproven baseball talent. The third scenario is that the current roster-of-the-low-salaried produces a dismal season with a dreadful won-lost record, an unfortunate outcome that would come as an unpleasant surprise to many of my fellow commentators.

      • Rich Dubroff

        January 21, 2021 at 7:37 pm

        Steve, I counted 15–eight pitchers and seven position players.

        Armstrong, Tyler Wells, Valdez, Sulser, Sceroler, Lopez, Goudeau, Lakins, Shaw, Martin, Valaika, Urias, Severino, Santander, Sanchez and Ruiz.

        • WorldlyView

          January 21, 2021 at 8:02 pm

          Here is the revised list: you missed Alex Wells and Lowther. I forgot Santander and double counted one pitcher. So the total stands at 17, not my idea of a formula for success.

          • Rich Dubroff

            January 21, 2021 at 8:16 pm

            Steve, Alexander Wells was signed as an international free agent, and Zac Lowther was drafted in the second round of the 2017 draft, so the total is 15.

    • Eastern Sho Joe

      January 21, 2021 at 9:38 pm

      Mr. Normo, I’m with you, let’s go out and spend a couple hundred million on free agents, promote Adley, Grayson and every prospect and get this done. Of course I’m being sarcastic, it would be foolish to go out and sign big $ players or not trade placeholders for prospects.

      Almost everything Elias has done is exactly what he said the strategy was going to be when he came here. He said first goal was to build an elite talent pipeline. Our farm system was ranked 23rd when he took over in 2018, now it’s 8th. He said the first few years would be rough, but to be able to compete, this must be done.

      I follow the managerial actions and transactions pretty closely, and I support the strategy they’re following. I think we’ll be a winning franchise in another 2-3 years. 2021 is going to be rough, 2022 and 23 breaking .500 and starting in 2024 be World Series contenders for many years after that.

      As long as he’s doing what he said he was going to do from the start, and his projections stay true, I think he deserves our support.

      • WorldlyView

        January 21, 2021 at 9:55 pm

        ESJ: I agree he deserves support from the relatively young and patient. Not so much from those of us who are old and impatient. When trading away multiple draft picks to get Orioles’ stars, the Yankees, Dodgers, et al were following the “future is now” strategy, the beauty of which is in the eyes and ages of the beholder.

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          January 21, 2021 at 10:52 pm

          NY and LA can afford to trade away prospects the Os can’t. Also, I’m not young, nor am I patient. lol.

          • NormOs

            January 22, 2021 at 10:10 am

            Hey Joe, I’m 88, how you doin’?

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        January 21, 2021 at 10:31 pm

        So taking 5 to 6 years to be a winning franchise deserves our support? Really?

        • Eastern Sho Joe

          January 21, 2021 at 11:13 pm

          We were losing before Elias came. Our farm system was stripped, and our big $ signings were failures. So I can’t see how we would’ve been competitive this year no matter who was gm.

          Also, and I don’t know about you, but winning a division is not a ‘winning franchise.’. To me, a World Series Championship or two within a few years of each other is needed, and being contenders for years.

          It’s been 40 years since we’ve been a winning franchise, and Elias has stated time and time again that this is his goal here. He said it will take a few rough years to reach this. I’ve been waiting this long, and as long as the process unfolds like he said it would from the beginning, and it is, I’ll support it.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 21, 2021 at 11:55 pm

            The rules of fielding a team were totally different 40 years ago. Players didn’t leave for Boston or LA/NY as soon as their time was up. So until the grounds of the playing fields are leveled between large and small markets, (salary cap) the Orioles will not be a ‘contender for years’. They’ll have to play for a peek season now and then.

            Do I have the magic answers? No I don’t. While I agree with holding back and building the arms of the young pitchers may be wise, holding back the young positionaly players serves not purpose other than to maintain positioning the team to draft near the top of the order. This isn’t the answer either. I like what Elias is doing in the Carribean, I’ll give him credit right now for that, but then again let’s give ownership the credit for finally allowing the GM to do so. As far as the talent pipeline and the rejuvinated farm rankings, most the good young guys currently proving themselves were not his picks. Sure he’s stockpiling a boat load of minor leaguers, but the jury is still out on his eye for talent.

            When Elias gives the big club the best chance to win games then I’ll give him credit. Until then, he’s running an inscrupulous ship which shouldn’t be the new “oriole way” IMO.

          • Boog Robinson Robinson

            January 22, 2021 at 12:00 am

            Sorry for all the typos … ran out of time in my edits.

    • BarstoolSleeper

      January 21, 2021 at 10:59 pm

      Elias is doing exactly what he was hired to do and what he said he was going to do. The rebuild is from the minors to the majors. You can’t rebuild the other way around.

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        January 21, 2021 at 11:31 pm

        Preach it Barstool!

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 8:06 am

      Sit around & watch the Yankees & Red Sucks sign FA, change the traditions of O’s broadcasting, yep, exactly what he was hired to do…go O’s…

  5. WorldlyView

    January 21, 2021 at 8:45 pm

    You are right on Lowther. Wells was signed after playing for the mighty Blue Sox of Sydney, Australia. Ergo he does not meet my criteria for a proven, sought-after MLB caliber player. I would be willing to go to arbitration to decide if he belongs on my let’s-find-somebody-very-cheap and hope for the best list.
    BTW, it would be interesting to know the total for the numerous minor league contracts and waiver acquisitions signed in the last 2 years of guys who did not make the current 40 roster. The transcendent goal of management, as I see it, is: save money and write off the short to medium term while developing a productive farm system. The beauty of this strategy is in the eyes of the beholder.

  6. Eastern Sho Joe

    January 22, 2021 at 7:29 am

    Mr. Boog, you wrote: “As far as the talent pipeline and the rejuvinated farm rankings, most the good young guys currently proving themselves were not his picks.”

    My reply: This is irrelevant. How many prospects would’ve DD traded to get a Jimenez type player? Why didn’t we have any top prospects when DD was fired?

    You wrote: “When Elias gives the big club the best chance to win games then I’ll give him credit. Until then, he’s running an inscrupulous ship which shouldn’t be the new “oriole way” IMO.”

    My reply: The ‘Oriole Way’ for the past 40 years has been losing, except for a few years where we got whipped in the playoffs. I’ll give the new guy a chance until his strategy appears not to be working, but for now, everything he’s said is going to happen is happening and anyone who doesn’t see it is either ignoring the facts or are too arrogant to admit they’re wrong. Or, don’t have anything better to do than to complain.

    Like it or not, Elias is now the captain of the ship. If you don’t like the course, get off the boat.

    • CalsPals

      January 22, 2021 at 8:06 am

      Staying on the ship, but don’t like it…go O’s…


      January 22, 2021 at 8:29 am

      The best the “Boy Wonder” gets as of this moment is an INCOMPLETE. He has proved ZERO so far. And to say it is not relevant to point out that most of the O’s current young prospects were Dan’s guys is ridiculous. I was not a big fan of Dan but it is much harder to try to compete
      while also building a farm system than it is to intentionally tank to get high draft picks which was the Houston model and is the “Boy Wonder’s” model.

      • Phil770

        January 22, 2021 at 10:15 am

        This group never, ever give credit to Elias. He deserves credit for bringing in Sid, Holt and Perez. The development of pitchers has already started, Means being a prime example, but the young guns too. Perez has produced as well. Trading Inglesias was a major mistake. For those who believe that FAs ought to be brought in, why would a top FA, or any FA, sign if there were any other alternative? The Nationals are looking for a 3rd baseman, just like the O’s. They let theirs walk for nothing in return, because they were “too cheap” to pay Rendon. The year before, they let their once in a generation player, Harper, walk for no return because they wouldn’t pay him “his worth”. With a talent pipeline, players can walk, and be replaced with competitive talent

        • VICTORTEE

          January 22, 2021 at 1:22 pm

          The facts are that most of the O’s top prospects (incl 3 of the 5 in the top 100) were brought in by Dan. This includes Mountcastle,
          Santander, Grayson Rodriguez, DL Hall, Austin Hays, Mullins, Means, Tanner Scott, Akin, Kremer , Zimmerman, and Lowther.

          So the fact that the O’s farm system is improved is due to Dan’s guys and the Boy Wonder being able to pick near the top of the draft the last couple of years. When he has produced a winning team, I will give him credit. Until then his grade is INCOMPLETE.

    • WorldlyView

      January 22, 2021 at 9:22 am

      Attention Rich Dubroff: Eastern Shore Joe’s dictum that critics who “don’t like the course, get off the boat” is so brilliant and on-point that he should be allowed to delete future comments that he disagrees with. This is the United States of America–since when has dissent been tolerated? Especially when criticism is directed at something so crucial and un-nuanced as the right path to put a competitive baseball team on the field.

      • Eastern Sho Joe

        January 22, 2021 at 9:55 am

        This is my last post made on this site. Take care.

        • Birdman

          January 22, 2021 at 10:29 am

          Say it ain’t so, Joe … those of us who are Elias defenders seem to be a minority of commenters here … hope you will stay, to help provide balance.

        • VICTORTEE

          January 22, 2021 at 1:14 pm

          See Ya!

  7. CalsPals

    January 22, 2021 at 12:26 pm

    It would be interesting to see the top 10 teams in usage of the waiver wire for the last five yrs, any takers?…go O’s….

  8. Bmore

    January 22, 2021 at 7:13 pm

    Orioles need to let Adley Rutschman start the season with them what do they have to lose

    • Boog Robinson Robinson

      January 23, 2021 at 12:13 am

      My point exactly. There is nothing to lose. The old adage that you “don’t want to damage their confidence” is just plain silly. If they can play, they know it.

    • CalsPals

      January 23, 2021 at 8:07 am

      What a unique idea, I’ll jump on board with that, wasn’t apparently what Mikey was hired for though…LMAO…go O’s…

You must be logged in to post a comment Login or Register Here

Leave a Reply

To Top