What we know and don't know about Orioles' roster as spring training winds down - BaltimoreBaseball.com

Spring Training

What we know and don’t know about Orioles’ roster as spring training winds down

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

The Orioles are about to begin the stretch run of spring training, and there are still a number of decisions to be made before Opening Day in Boston on April 1st. Here’s what we know and don’t know about the 2021 team.

Starting rotation: The Orioles have a number of candidates, led by left-hander John Means, who is expected to be named the Opening Day starter after his strongest outing on Wednesday against Atlanta: one run on two hits in four innings with four strikeouts and no walks.

Dean Kremer, who will start Friday night against Pittsburgh, and Keegan Akin, both of whom made their major league debuts in the 60-game 2020 season, also seem certain to be in the rotation.

Veteran Matt Harvey appears as if he has secured a spot, too. However, Félix Hernández who left Tuesday’s game after one inning because of what the team described as discomfort in his right elbow, appears out until the Orioles are certain that his elbow is sound. He has pitched only 5 2/3 innings and might start the season at the Orioles’ alternate site in Bowie.

There are other logical starting candidates in Wade LeBlanc, Jorge López and Bruce Zimmermann.

LeBlanc, like Harvey and Hernández, is on a minor league contract and not on the 40-man roster. The left-hander has allowed two runs on three hits in five innings and has pitched in simulated games.

López has no minor league options remaining. If the Orioles want to send him to Triple-A, he must clear waivers, and he’d likely be claimed. In 11 innings this spring, López has allowed three runs on eight hits with 11 strikeouts and four walks.

Zimmermann has been a standout this spring. He has allowed just one hit in nine shutout innings. He also has 10 strikeouts against just three walks. Like López, Zimmermann’s innings have been in relief but assuming Hernández is out, he could get a start.

Bullpen: If LeBlanc, López and Zimmermann make the club, one or two likely will be used in long relief as the innings for pitchers are carefully monitored after 2020’s irregular season. We don’t know if the Orioles will use five or six starters.

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If the team carries 13 pitchers, that leaves six pitchers who are short relief candidates.

One of them, César Valdez, who turned 36 on Wednesday, can pitch several innings if necessary. Shawn Armstrong, Paul Fry and Travis Lakins can pitch more than one inning. Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser and Dillon Tate are considered one-inning guys.

If the Orioles keep LeBlanc and López as long relievers, one short reliever won’t make the team. Armstrong and Valdez don’t have options. The rest do, and the choice probably comes down to Lakins, Sulser or Tate.

Non-roster left-hander Fernando Abad has allowed five runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings and is an unlikely addition.

Hunter Harvey will start the season on the 60-day injured list because of a left oblique strain.

40-man roster: If LeBlanc and Matt Harvey make the team, a player must be cut from the 40-man roster. At the moment, it doesn’t appear that there’s room for the two Rule 5 picks, right-handers Mac Sceroler and Tyler Wells.

However, a spot was created on Thursday when right-hander Ashton Goudeau was claimed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants.

Like Hunter Harvey, Chris Davis also seems certain to begin the season on the injured list. Davis has played only one game before being sidelined by a lower-back injury. It’s not known if he’ll begin the season on the 10-day or 60-day injured list. If he’s on the 60-day injured list, he won’t count against the 40-man roster.

Position players: Catchers Pedro Severino and Chance Sisco will begin the season with the Orioles, even though both have had poor springs.

Severino’s horrible spring (1-for-22, .045) has been excused by manager Brandon Hyde. He’s on a guaranteed contract for $1.83 million, so he’s not going anywhere.

Sisco is 3-for-18 (.167). With top prospect Adley Rutschman looming, Sisco can create a market for himself as a left-handed hitting catcher here or elsewhere if he has a solid season.

Austin Wynns, who’s not on the 40-man roster, is probably ticketed to be the taxi-squad catcher. Teams can have five players, which must include a catcher, on road trips.

First baseman Trey Mancini is returning after missing 2020 because of colon cancer surgery. Hyde has been careful in bringing him back, and Mancini has played well overall. Two new players, Yolmer Sánchez at second and Freddy Galvis at shortstop, will start in the infield with Mancini.

The Orioles added third baseman Maikel Franco this week. He’s a right-handed hitter with power and will compete with incumbent Rio Ruiz, who bats from the left side. The Orioles will try to get Franco enough at-bats to be ready for the April 1st opener.

Ruiz is probably safe for now. If there’s one utility player, it’s likely to be Pat Valaika. If Franco isn’t ready to start the season, Ramón Urias might be added because Stevie Wilkerson, another utility player, isn’t on the 40-man roster.

The outfield looks set, assuming DJ Stewart’s right hamstring injury heals in time.

Austin Hays, who went 3-for-3 in Wednesday night’s win over Atlanta, is batting .370 (10-for-27). Cedric Mullins seems more confident as a strictly left-handed hitter, Ryan Mountcastle has demonstrated his power, and Anthony Santander is coming off a strong seeason.

There are 57 players in camp but that includes a number of players on the camp reserve list who the front office wanted to get a closer look at this spring but have no chance to make the 26-man roster.

NOTE: MASN will broadcast two spring training games — March 23rd (Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m.), and March 25th (Pittsburgh, 6:05 p.m.)

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB

 

 

44 Comments

44 Comments

  1. Bhoffman1

    March 19, 2021 at 8:16 am

    I love your line Severinos 1 for 22 has been excused by Hyde although Siscos. 3 for 18 is not much better. I know Adley hasn’t had much minor league experience but he’s old compared to a Tatis or a Soto doesn’t college ball mean something. Bring him up no later then June

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 9:08 am

      100% agree with you…go O’s…

      • NormOs

        March 19, 2021 at 12:42 pm

        I, too, agree and not because of the present catchers. The O’s have bigger problems than that, namely starting pitching with guys that no one else wanted. Ditto infielders. Ditto Davis. As I have said before, I believe the outfield, DH, and 1st base are covered nicely by Hays, Mullens, Santander, Mancini, and Mountcastle and they are all interchangeable. And as CP says……..go O’s……..

        • Georgia Oriole

          March 19, 2021 at 9:40 pm

          Any team would take one of our top 3 guys in the rotation. So, not all project guys.

  2. Orial

    March 19, 2021 at 8:17 am

    The team layout you presented seems very logical. I do worry about the trio of Franco/ Ruiz/Valaika all going north though. I normally would want Valaika but he is more known for his bat than glove(though he does seem to play everyehere–adequate at best). They have to resolve the 3B issue asap. As it stands Ruiz/Valaika would be the utility IFers. Not sure that’s a “smooth” defensive depth chart. Question Rich–does Wynns being on the taxi squad eliminate him from Norfolk(taxi squad players at the alternate site?)

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 9:10 am

      I read something somewhere that Ruiz only played 3B, if true, he wouldn’t be much of a utility player…go O’s…

  3. Bman

    March 19, 2021 at 9:38 am

    I don’t see LeBlanc on the roster but who knows. It’s hard to see two 3B on the roster too. Latkins doesn’t seem to have pitched well. Connor Greene is my dark horse to make the bullpen with hunter out. Wonder if they’ll try to hold rule 5 wells? doubtful. The status of Hernandez could determine some things but looks like he’s out of the picture for now.

    • Rob IsraOsFan

      March 20, 2021 at 2:11 am

      I would put LeBlanc on the roster. He pitched very effectively last night with three innings of no-hit relief against the Pirates and now has a 2.25 ERA in ST

  4. mlbbirdfan

    March 19, 2021 at 10:10 am

    This article and all the comments seem to assume that the Orioles are trying to win. Remember, they are trying to lose …

    • willmiranda

      March 19, 2021 at 11:19 am

      The roster options could be the same whether you’re trying to win or trying to lose. No game changers here.

  5. Boog Robinson Robinson

    March 19, 2021 at 10:31 am

    Keeping Ruiz makes no sense after signing Franco, but the guy I really don’t get is Yolmer Sanchez. Why in the world would you trade Cobb for J Jones and then turn around and send him to Norfolk? And have we forgotten Bannon? I just can’t see a reason to keep Sanchez on the roster.

    And Ramon Urias?

    Mike Elias in his 3 years … has managed to put together THE worst(e) infield I’ve seen in my 50+ years of following this team. I could have managed this! (no Yale education required either)

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 10:55 am

      Disagree Boog, you wouldn’t have managed it as badly, I’ll take heat for it, but I guarantee you’d have done better…go O’s…

    • BobKominski

      March 19, 2021 at 11:48 am

      As pessimistic as I am, I disagree that this is a bad infield. Sanchez won the 2019 GOLD GLOVE for the American League – that’s why Alberto is gone. I have been to every spring training game in Sarasota, and Galvis is pretty impressive. The notion of multiple center fielders in the outfield won 108 games for Seattle, and you will see BOTH Mullins and Hays in many games. They are trying to be strong up the middle, and they will need it. The 3b situation comes down to – if we arent going to have a Brooks or Cal, we may as well get some offense cheaply – that’s Franco. I saw an interview with Means on MLB. They asked him what was different about the Orioles this year. He quickly said – we are focusing more on defense and reducing “bad” innings. He didn’t dream that up – management is preaching that sermon. We’ll see if it works. I do think the team in Norfolk will be more interesting/impressive and a more realistic image of the future than the one in Baltimore. We may see some of this as soon as Sept, but with AAA not ending til mid-Sep, I expect Spring 2022 to be a lot more exciting.

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 11:58 am

      Can’t argue about strength up the middle, that also includes catchers…go O’s…

    • WorldlyView

      March 19, 2021 at 4:41 pm

      As relatively weak as the infield appears to be (not exactly Robinson, Belanger, Johnson, and Powell), I think the pitching staff’s underwhelming lack of MLB credentials is of far greater concern. Still, criticism of Elias should include acknowledgement that the assembled roster MIGHT be the result of orders from ownership to keep the team payroll to rock bottom levels even at the expense of an appalling won-loss record this year and next.

      • jimcarter

        March 19, 2021 at 8:33 pm

        This infield isn’t even Schu, Ripken, Ripken and Murray.

        • WorldlyView

          March 19, 2021 at 10:34 pm

          Who “Schu”?

          • Rich Dubroff

            March 20, 2021 at 1:35 pm

            Rick Schu was a part-time third baseman on the 1988 team.

    • Georgia Oriole

      March 19, 2021 at 9:43 pm

      It’s all patchwork until the minor league guys move up. #5 farm system ought to count for something…

  6. BarstoolSleeper

    March 19, 2021 at 10:52 am

    How can you analyze a guy like LeBlanc when he’s pitched in 5 innings with only 10-11 games left? Why not throw him out there out of the pen to get some innings? I’m not saying LeBlanc is a world beater by any means but how are you supposed to know what he’s got in 5 innings?! I know I know, Rich said he pitches on the sandlot behind the real field but come on. Start making decisions and stretch these guys out. The starters are only going to go 3 innings the first month of the regular season because the Orioles have no clue how to develop pitching.

    • Rob IsraOsFan

      March 20, 2021 at 2:05 am

      BarstoolSleeper, kudos to you for your excellent point on LeBlanc. Hyde might have read your comment as LeBlanc pitched three innings of no-hit relief last night against the Pirates.

  7. millboy

    March 19, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    What bothers me is that Severino’s contract is guaranteed…ugh….kind of puts into perspective Sisco’s real chance at being anything but the back up catcher on this team anyway

    • willmiranda

      March 19, 2021 at 2:50 pm

      The guaranteed contract also says something about the “open” competition in spring training. Maybe it’s to suppress suggestions about Rutschman, who’s outperforming people while sitting on the bench.

  8. Shamus

    March 19, 2021 at 6:46 pm

    You GM wannabes still don’t get it. Why start the major league clock on guys you may not be able to afford in 3-4 yrs. it’s still a rebuild. This team was a mess after Buckie and Dave screwed it up…

    • Georgia Oriole

      March 19, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Amen

    • WorldlyView

      March 19, 2021 at 10:31 pm

      Team was a mess, is a mess, and will be a mess at least into 2022. What did O’s fans do to deserve this long-term desecration of the “Oriole Way”? BTW, a player is eligible for free agency only after six years of Major League play.

    • VICTORTEE

      March 20, 2021 at 7:47 pm

      I know who “Buckie” is. Who is “Dave”. And how long are we supposed to wait for the “Boy Genius” to do something other than cut payroll and pick up bums off the waiver wire?

  9. IrishAl81

    March 19, 2021 at 8:05 pm

    Norm, you used too many ellipsis points. CP uses just 3.
    (An ellipsis consists of either three or four periods, or dots. A single dot is called an ellipsis point. An ellipsis can indicate the omission of words in the middle of a quoted sentence or the omission of sentences within a quoted paragraph.)
    Makes one wonder just what CP is omitting…

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 9:42 pm

      Stop being so tedious…first original post & that’s what you go with…go O’s…

    • CalsPals

      March 19, 2021 at 9:44 pm

      Leaving nothing out, per your definition, CAN indicate….just doing it…no statement …go O’s…

    • NormOs

      March 20, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Sorry about that. I was very uninterested in English class (too boring as I’m afraid most classes were (terrible student). I must have hooked school the day they discussed “ellipsises”. so please forgive me. City College class of 1950

  10. Bmore

    March 20, 2021 at 7:39 am

    What are y’all CLDS his chances of making the team

  11. Bumble bee

    March 20, 2021 at 9:55 am

    Isn’t Anyone excited bout our group in the outfield. And our first baseman. That makes with a dh five good players in our line up. Sprinkle in Franco at third and hopes at second, our line up is not the best but will excite us fans in those 10-8 games most of the year

    • NormOs

      March 20, 2021 at 11:00 am

      See 3rd comment, this page

  12. mlbbirdfan

    March 20, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    I realize 2021 team is trying to lose.
    ICYMI, season ticket holder‘s are still paying full price for our tickets. In our case, $20,000 for four tickets to 81 games in 2021 and probably a price increase for 2022 — and we’ve had our seats for the past 27 years! I am sick and tired of the team trying to lose!

    • WorldlyView

      March 20, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      I think the team’s priority is minimizing expenditures. They’re not “trying to lose.” Wins and losses seem to be of incidental importance to ownership.
      For a theory of why they seem hell-bent on cutting expenses, see the column in yesterday’s Washington Post by their highly respected, long-time columnist Tom Boswell. Full text available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2021/03/19/masn-orioles-peter-angelos/ .
      Here are the highlights.

      “…On Thursday, MASN announced it would telecast the Nationals’ and Orioles’ final two exhibition games March 28 and 29. What took so long? Why would any team forego promoting its product just to save a few nickels? Why would any network alienate loyal fans in both cities by trimming staff, including talented play-by-play man Gary Thorne in Baltimore and popular studio host Dan Kolko in Washington?

      When a sequence of events appears to make no sense, that often means there are dots to connect, and that’s part of a columnist’s job. Here are some dots to consider. Peter Angelos, 91, has been in declining health for a few years and, last November, MLB approved his son John to replace him as the person who now makes all key decisions for the Orioles.
      Peter’s cost basis was $173 million when he bought the team in 1993. Now, the Orioles might be worth $1.4 billion… If Angelos’s heirs decide to sell the team, they will pay vastly less in capital gains taxes after his passing than they would if they sold now.
      So if you hope to sell any business, but not for a year or two, what do you do? You make your business as beautiful as possible. Or you cut expenses to the bone, take the heat for layoffs, grab all the profits you can and maybe end up with the lure of a No. 1 overall draft pick in the process. Right now, the O’s sure look like Door No. 2 to me…”

      • VICTORTEE

        March 20, 2021 at 7:50 pm

        The Houston tanking method which the “Boy Genius” follows DOES want the team to lose to get a high draft pick. So the “Boy Genius” IS “trying to lose”.

  13. mlbbirdfan

    March 20, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    The cynical view is: the Angelo family is going to sell AND MOVE. Bring the other shoe WorldView. Do you think the team is going to move? Meanwhile, I am a fan of the Orioles!! F losing!!

    • CalsPals

      March 21, 2021 at 7:18 am

      100% w/you birdfan…losing sucks…go O’s…

    • WorldlyView

      March 21, 2021 at 4:46 pm

      I agree with Rich–the team will stay in Baltimore, new ownership or the existing one.

  14. mlbbirdfan

    March 21, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    I just read the Boswell column for the first time tonight. The Angelo Family is the VILLAIN here! For their shameful action they are going to get paid nine figures, maybe 10. They will hijack tax money as corporate billionaires do. Meanwhile, we have to pay exorbitant prices tickets to see a AAAA caliber team

    • orion1782

      March 24, 2021 at 4:15 pm

      The Boswell column is the first and most honest take by the media on what exactly is going on with the Orioles as a franchise in MLB and MASN as an ongoing business concern. These two things are linked. Yet most (all?) of the baltimore beat media just tell us that MASN will air two games matter of factly. I’ve seen little reporting as to why this is just accepted, what the financial implications are out of the Revenue Sharing Definitions Committee decision, and the effect of transferring $100 million into escrow just to drag this out for another 18 months. It’s convenient that the team is rebuilding and doesn’t have to cover for any kind defense of the on-field product, but the combination of COVID and the MASN case have clearly shifted the thinking of the franchise. I don’t doubt Elias is sincere with the rebuild and his plan, but that doesn’t have anything to do with these other issues nor does it explain them

  15. WorldlyView

    March 24, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    I think it is interesting to contrast the alleged Orioles ownership’s priority of saving money with the comment of Patriots owner Robert Kraft earlier this week. In explaining his team’s massive spending on acquiring free agents, he was quoted as saying “we’re not in the business to be in business. We’re in this business to win.” Anybody know how to impart that philosophy to the Angelos family? Or do we have to wait for new ownership?

  16. mlbbirdfan

    March 24, 2021 at 4:45 pm

    Wait for Peter to pass away, may he RIP. Sons might spend. Or not. Who knows?
    We can only hope that a new ownership team would keep the O’s in Baltimore. We don’t know that!

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