An early look at a possible Opening Day roster for the Orioles -

Rich Dubroff

An early look at a possible Opening Day roster for the Orioles

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

With major league roster changes on hold during the lockout, it’s a good time to take a look at a possible 26-man Opening Day roster for the Orioles. Trades and free-agent signings are possible, and the Orioles will take at least one player in a Rule 5 draft after transactions are again permitted.

Pitchers:  Sure things: John Means, Jordan Lyles, Paul Fry, Jorge López, Tanner Scott, Cole Sulser, Tyler Wells

Means and Jordan Lyles, whose contract will become official after he passes a physical at the conclusion of the lockout, are the only two starters who seem assured of a spot in the rotation.

Fry signed an $850,000 contract shortly before the November 30th deadline. López signed a $1.5 million contract, and Scott was offered a contract at the tender deadline. Sulser had an impressive season in 2021. As a Rule 5 draft pick, Wells surprised with his poise and stuff.

Contenders: Keegan Akin, Bryan Baker, Mike Baumann, Félix Bautista, Marcos Diplán, Joey Krehbiel, Dean Kremer, Zac Lowther, Isaac Mattson, Cionel Pérez, Dillon Tate, Alexander Wells, Bruce Zimmermann.

Akin, Baumann, Kremer, Lowther, Wells and Zimmermann will likely vie for the other three starting spots. Zimmermann was the most impressive early in the season but a lengthy stay on the injured list cost him much of the season. Of the others, he’s probably the best bet to be in the rotation. It’s likely that an additional candidate or two will be added after the lockout ends.

If five bullpen spots are spoken for, that likely leaves four unaccounted for. Tate was 0-6 with a 4.39 ERA, but the Orioles like his stuff. If the Orioles are OK with three left-handers in the bullpen — Fry and Scott are the others — Pérez also could make it. Baker had interesting stats at Triple-A Buffalo in 2021 but has only one inning of major league experience.

Bautista was placed on the 40-man roster and probably won’t start the season with the Orioles. Krehbiel and Mattson have limited big league experience, and Diplán will be in spring training as a non-roster invite. All probably will see time with the Orioles.

It’s likely the Orioles will add to the bullpen competition with a Rule 5 draft choice and perhaps some of the starting contenders could be swingmen.


Catchers: Sure things: None

Contenders: Anthony Bemboom, Jacob Nottingham, Adley Rutschman,

There are no catchers on the 40-man roster. Rutschman is a sure thing to spend most of the season with the Orioles, but if the service time issue isn’t addressed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, he could begin the season at Triple-A.

Bemboom, a left-handed hitter, and Nottingham, a right-handed hitter, have combined for 107 major league games. Both signed minor league contracts, and it’s possible they’re the pair that begins the season.

This is another area that could be addressed in both the Rule 5 draft and additional signings post-lockout.

Infielders: Sure things: Kelvin Gutiérrez, Trey Mancini, Jorge Mateo, Ryan Mountcastle, Roughned Odor, Ramón Urias

Mancini and Mountcastle seem likely to once again split the first base/designated hitter duties. Gutiérrez, Odor and Urías are likely to start at third, second and short, respectively.

Mateo could challenge Odor at second, or he could be a utility-type with game-changing speed.

The Orioles have some infield prospects, including Gunnar Henderson and Jordan Westburg, but they’re not likely to come to the majors until late in the 2022 season.

Contenders: Jahmai Jones, Richie Martin, Tyler Nevin

Jones looked inexperienced at second in a brief trial. Martin has been hampered by injuries the past two seasons. Nevin could be a lon-shot contender at third.

It’s possible that another infielder is claimed on waivers or signed to a minor league contract. They need more competition for Gutiérrez at third. The Orioles had claimed Lucius Fox from Kansas City, but he was quickly lost to Washington on waivers.

Outfielders: Sure things: Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander

Contenders: Ryan McKenna, DJ Stewart

Hays, Mullins and Santander are the starting outfield. McKenna and Stewart could battle for the fourth spot.

If the Orioles carry 14 pitchers, as they did for most of last season, and two catchers, that leaves 10 additional position players with perhaps one undecided.

The Orioles could sign a veteran outfielder to a minor league contract.

Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB



  1. terp80

    December 22, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Nice overview, but I would put Zimmerman in the sure thing category, and also think that Mateo might challenge at SS as well…

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 10:06 am

      Zimmermann is close to a sure thing, but the time he missed puts him lower. Mateo could challenge at shortstop, but Urias looked good there.

  2. Boog Robinson Robinson

    December 22, 2021 at 8:45 am

    I know this is all very early to be speculating on Rich, I appreciate your effort to provide reading material every day, I truly do.

    But God forbid this is our team next year. They can’t keep doing this.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 10:08 am

      Ken, there will be additions before opening day, and they’ll be bringing players up during the season. The team in August won’t resemble the team in April.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        December 22, 2021 at 10:20 am

        This may all be well and true Rich, but might I remind everyone that the games in Apri count in the standings just as much as those in August.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 10:28 am

      Logic like this is why you have been so
      successful in life, Ken. I’m sure Joe agrees.

      • WhyDoIBother

        December 22, 2021 at 1:58 pm

        I agree! The daggone games in April count just as much as the games in August!

        There will be additions? That’s scary after the O’s laid out $7M for this Lyles guy…

        Adley Rutschman is a sure thing to break camp with the O’s. Now only if we can all convince the powers that be to add G Rod as the #2 starter, then the O’s would be cooking with grease!

    • cedar

      December 22, 2021 at 12:22 pm

      I look forward to an article about what the roster may look like in July/August

  3. Orioles20

    December 22, 2021 at 9:08 am

    Is odor really a sure thing? We thought yolmer Sanchez was last year and he didn’t make it to opening day. Is akin going to be ready for opening day? Is there anything new regarding his rehab? To me Urias should be at second. I think he’s more natural there. Mateo was good in September. Hopefully he can keep that up because he’s versatile and has great speed. Gutiérrez has been hitting down in the Dominican. Hopefully that will carry over. The outfield should be hays in left. We saw in September what he’s capable of playing when he plays everyday. Obviously Mullins in center. Santander in right. I know I rag on Stewart but I just don’t see what value he provides. He can’t play a lick of defense. The rotation seems to be a bit left handed to me. Particularly when it comes to the right handed heavy lineups of the American League east.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 10:11 am

      Yes, I certainly thought Sanchez would be the second baseman to start the year. As I pointed out in a previous article, Urias’ offensive numbers are far better as a shortstop than as a second baseman.

      Due to the lockout, we aren’t getting medical updates on major league players.

      There are lots of left-handers in that potential rotation.

  4. Orial

    December 22, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Minus the subtraction of Severino and the addition of Odor that roster makeup looks frighteningly like last season’s roster. One or two injuries and it looks even scarier. OF depth is desperately needed(Mckenna/Stewart tandem adds little to confidence). How about concentrating Matero more as an OFer than IFer? Thanks Rich now all you’ve done is accentuate how far we have left to see this re-build take traction.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 10:46 am

      Al, I think Mateo could be a useful utility player, infield, corner outfield and pinch- runner.

  5. Bman

    December 22, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Nice overview. Don’t sleep on Bannon, Vavra, or Stowers either. They may all start in AAA, but should be on the team at some point in the season. Just the additions of Rutschman and Stowers will change the dynamic of the lineup. Another free agent starter, plus Grayson Rodriguez in the team too will help. That would be a pleasant surprise if both Westburg and Henderson arrive next season. It does seem with all the list time they’re pushing players thru the minors faster.

  6. Birdman

    December 22, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Rich, considering that the 2021 Orioles had the 9th worst team ERA in MLB history (since 1900), how likely is it that they will make some additional free agent pitching signings beyond Lyles?

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 2:29 pm


    • Icterus fan

      December 22, 2021 at 4:19 pm

      Rich, athletic augur, prognosticator of portent, oracle of orioles (work with me here), who is on your short list of possible and credible FA pitching signings as you gaze unerringly into the crystal ball?
      Any prime suspects to keep an eye out for?

      • Rich Dubroff

        December 22, 2021 at 4:55 pm

        Marty, I didn’t have Jordan Lyles on my initial list. Nor did I have Odor or either of the minor league catchers, so I’ll pass on free agent pitchers until the lockout is over.

    • BRobbyFan5

      December 22, 2021 at 4:34 pm

      Yes, but how likely would
      they are worth 2 cents?

  7. dlgruber1

    December 22, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I’m baking cookies, all finished with Christmas preparations, feeling quite jolly actually. While I’m waiting for the cookies to bake I thought now is a good time to see what Rich has to say today. How depressing to see that likely opening day roster. The sad thing is I’m sure that’ll probably be very accurate. My Christmas cheer has dropped down a few notches, but only until all my baking is done. I refuse to let the prospect of yet another 100 loss season ruin my Christmas spirit. Merry Christmas to all the staff at BB, especially Rich, as well as to all those who comment on here. I may disagree with some but I know we all want the same thing for Christmas, a winning O’s team, sooner rather than later. Best wishes to everyone.

    • WhyDoIBother

      December 22, 2021 at 2:11 pm

      This is depressing you? Maybe hit the egg nog!

      1. Mullins CF
      2. Hays LF
      3. Mancini DH
      4. Mountcastle 1B
      5. Rutschman C
      6. Odor 2B
      7. Santander RF
      8. R Urias SS
      9. Gutie 3B

      The starting rotation is a bit worrisome but if G Rod makes the OD roster, things will look up. Surely Santa is bringing us O’s fans 70-85 wins in 2022! Ho ho ho!

      • Birdman

        December 22, 2021 at 2:19 pm

        Maybe, if G Rod can start 60 games.

      • Boog Robinson Robinson

        December 23, 2021 at 12:07 am

        Santander needs to be in the 3 or 4 hole. I’d move Mancini to the 2 spot, and let Hayes bat 9th to turn the lineup over.

        • jimmyv

          December 23, 2021 at 10:09 am

          BR Robbie, I generally agree with most of what you say, and I don’t have a strong argument against your batting order. Except, let me offer the thought that after we get to the bottom half there’s typically a large dropoff of hits as well as power. For that reason alone, I could see Santander plugging the middle down there sometimes to see whether we can score a few more. Odor, Urias, Gutierrez down low with no big bat protection or decent average to break the trio worries me a bunch. What say you? Or others out there?

    • Icterus fan

      December 22, 2021 at 4:26 pm

      That lineup 1-5 looks killer. 6-9 has some questions, but I did like what I saw from Gutierrez defensively at least, and he seems to want to hustle. I hope he’s getting lots of practice cuts wherever he is.
      Here’s trusting Santander doesn’t have a bad wheel/nagging injuries again. He looks like he could be an RBI machine over the course of a healthy season.

    • Rich Dubroff

      December 22, 2021 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Dave.

  8. willmiranda

    December 22, 2021 at 2:02 pm

    A pitcher was 0-6, but the O’s really like his stuff. With rationalizations like that, how can anyone predict what the O’s will do with their roster? And why is everyone taking for granted that Lyles will pass his physical? Historically, that’s not a gimme with the O’s. Not long ago we were happy with outfield depth; now it’s Hays, Mullins, and Santander, with asterisks for “when healthy.” \

  9. WhyDoIBother

    December 22, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Joey Krehbiel is the key the Orioles 2022 season IMO. He comes from the Tampa org, so I know BC will back me on this.

    Every team needs a guy named Joey, especially a Joey whose FB velo (yes, I am one of the cool analytics guys in my school) averages a sweet 95.7 MPH.

    Mark my words! If Rutschman, G Rod, and Krehbiel are the O’s 2022 OD roster, 80 wins will be the floor!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

    • Baltimore Castaway

      December 22, 2021 at 3:23 pm


      You are indeed a soothsayer…..

      Wishing you a very merry Christmas and Holiday Season..

    • dlgruber1

      December 22, 2021 at 5:45 pm

      WDIB, I actually believe you must’ve been drinking far too much egg nog. If Joey Krehbiel is the key to the O’s in 2022 then we O’s fans are in for another long season. If “the key to the Orioles 2022 season” is a 28 year old pitcher with as many career walks, 7, as strikeouts, then I really do shudder to think where this organization is going. I know, I know, he’s from Tampa organization and he throws 95.7 mph. That and 5 bucks might still get you a cup of coffee. Alas, I WILL NOT allow my Christmas spirit to dampen so I’ll end by saying I’d LOVE for you to be correct and Joey Krehbiel leads us back to the glory days of Orioles baseball. Orioles magic, feel it happen!

    • Buzz1979

      December 22, 2021 at 9:07 pm

      As long as it ain’t Rickard!!!

  10. NormOs

    December 22, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    Prepare for a very long season, as usual. It seems with the O’s, change is very slow which means we will be watching, basically, the same bullpen as last year except for Lopez and Wells. They can’t seem to shake off Scott and Tate etc. etc. etc. Also lacking are 2nd, SS, and 3rd.
    So we should be prepared for another 110+ losses and “wait till next year”.

    • WorldlyView

      December 22, 2021 at 5:15 pm

      Norm, agree with you on the 110+ losses, but suggest we need to wait until 2024. As unexciting as the Orioles roster appears to be, the bigger question is: how does it stack up against the other AL teams, those in the East division in particular? My guess is not well. I just don’t see how we can improve on last year’s record, especially if the additional free agents we sign are the usual marginal players who could not get lucrative contracts elsewhere or were waived. If any of you believe in miracles, you could hope for a miraculously good performance by what on paper is a weak pitching staff.

    • WhyDoIBother

      December 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm

      NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Norm, just no. 89 or less losses okay?

  11. JerseyO

    December 22, 2021 at 6:24 pm

    This rebuild will last until we get a few legit pitchers. Right now it’s just Means. GRod is a year away. DL Hall has yet to stay healthy. After him that’s it. None of the others from last year gives me much hope.

    I hope I’m wrong here.

    Go Os.

  12. Baltimore Castaway

    December 22, 2021 at 7:01 pm


    – The Bad News: Happy that you confronted the current reality of just how far off-the-mark/not-ready-for-prime-time this 40 Man MLRoster is

    – The Good News: by the end of the ’22 Season, the Orioles Faithful will be able to really see for themselves the promising vanguard of legit ballers matriculating through the System; Adley, Grayson, Westburg and maybe others.

    Have faith people. Better times are coming as it relates to the talent base.

    There are other issues that we have conveniently swept under the rug, such as; Attendance, Fan Safety, Fan Alienation, long-term Ownership support and of course the ongoing disaster called the MASN agreement w the D.C. Lerners—with the full-on brute force of Commissioner Manfred’s ham-fisted and treacherous ways–what a POS he indeed is…

    It’s Christmastime; the time to reflect on the birth of the most important person in History.

    We can deal w these other issues after the first of the year–after all, the Owners and Commissioner have no sense of urgency to get a new deal passed….why should we be too invested in it either?

  13. Buzz1979

    December 22, 2021 at 9:01 pm

    Fry??? Sure thing??? Best LOL of my day!!!

  14. CanOfCorn

    December 23, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for snapshot Rich. Maybe O’s can pickup that third baseman again who walks and runs like Fred Sanford…. Maikel Franco naw Nats keep him.
    Merry Christmas!!

  15. Mikepete73

    December 27, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t understand the fascination with guiterrez at 3b. He didn’t show me anything. I hope Tyler Nevin gets a legit shot at winning the job in the spring

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