The Orioles made more decisions on their 40-man roster on Sunday, outrighting pitcher Chris Ellis, who had been on the 60-day injured list, and catcher Aramis Garcia, who was claimed on waivers from Cincinnati to Triple-A Norfolk.
The moves leave 39 players on the 40-man roster. More moves are coming soon.
Some decisions will be made for them when first baseman Jesús Aguilar, catcher Robinson Chirinos and second baseman Rougned Odor declare for free agency.
If the Orioles decline their $11 million on starting pitcher Jordan Lyles, a decision that must be made five days after the end of the World Series, that would produce another opening.
Starting pitcher John Means remains on the 60-day injured list. Even though Means could return to the 60-day list next spring if the Orioles decide he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery to pitch by Memorial Day, he still must be placed on the 40-man roster over the winter.
Room must be made for a few additions. Top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, who missed three months because of a lat injury, will be added. Starter Drew Rom and infielder Joey Ortiz seem certain to be added, too.
It seems likely that the Orioles will protect Seth Johnson, a right-hander they received from Tampa Bay in the three-way trade that sent Trey Mancini to Houston. Johnson underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after the August 2nd deal.
Two others who could be protected are catcher Maverick Handley, who was the sixth-round pick in 2019, and reliever Noah Denoyer, who signed in 2019 as a non-drafted free agent and is in the Arizona Fall League.
Some others who are eligible for Rule 5 protection this year include left-hander Easton Lucas, who was obtained from Miami in the trade for Jonathan Villar in December 2019; right-handers Kyle Brnovich and Zach Peek, who were part of the haul the Orioles received from the Los Angeles Angels for starter Dylan Bundy three years ago; and Garrett Stallings, another right-hander the Orioles received from the Angels for starter Alex Cobb in December 2020.
Brnovich and Peek had Tommy John surgery this year.
Other pitchers available could be right-hander Brenan Hanifee, who was a fourth-round pick in 2016 whose development was delayed by Tommy John surgery in 2021; and right-handers Tyler Burch, Ryan Conroy, Connor Gillispie, Blaine Knight, Connor Loeprich, Griffin McLarty, Morgan McSweeney, Houston Roth and Adam Stauffer.
Right-handers Nolan Hoffman, who was drafted by the Orioles in the Triple-A Rule 5 draft, and Nick Richmond, who are in the Arizona Fall Leage, also are eligible to be drafted unless they’re protected.
Besides Handley, catchers Brett Cumberland, Cody Roberts, first baseman Andrew Daschbach, infielders Greg Cullen, Cadyn Grenier, Adam Hall and Toby Welk and outfielders Shayne Fontana, Robert Neustrom, Johnny Rizer and Zach Watson are also draft-eligible.
Some of the faster-rising international players, who were either signed or acquired in trades are eligible for the draft. Utilityman Luis Valdez, who stole 71 bases for Single-A Delmarva and High-A Aberdeen, infielders Isaac DeLeon, Noelberth Romero, outfielders Isaac Bellony, Mishael Deson and Davis Tavárez are all draft-eligible, but only Tavárez has played in Double-A.
Since the season ended, the Orioles have obtained catchers Anthony Bemboom, who was at Triple-A Norfolk for most of the season, and Mark Kolozsvary, who, like Garcia, were claimed on waivers from the Reds on October 14th. Cam Gallagher was claimed on waivers last month from San Diego.
It will be interesting to see if the Orioles keep three catchers in addition to starter Adley Rutschman on the 40-man roster, and if they add Handley.
The Orioles also claimed Jake Cave, a left-handed hitting outfielder on waivers from Minnesota on October 11th.
Cave and Gallagher are also eligible for arbitration in addition to outfielders Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, shortstop Jorge Mateo and pitchers Dillon Tate and Austin Voth.
It seems possible that the Orioles will attempt to sign Cave, Gallagher and Voth to contracts in advance of the deadline for tendering contracts.
The Orioles also might want to keep an opening on the 40-man roster for a Rule 5 pick. Because of the lockout, there was no Rule 5 draft in December 2021. The Orioles have made at least one selection in every Rule 5 draft since 2006. The Rule 5 draft is scheduled for early December at the Winter Meetings in San Diego.
Santander (2016) and right-handed pitcher Tyler Wells (2020) were both Rule 5 picks.