The Orioles and Maryland Governor Wes Moore issued a joint statement on Wednesday night about the future of the team at Camden Yards. Wednesday was the deadline for a one-time, five-year extension on the lease for Camden Yards, and the Orioles declined the option. The current lease expires on December 31st.
“When Camden Yards opened 30 years ago, the Baltimore Orioles revolutionized baseball and set the bar for the fan experience,” Moore said in the statement. “We share the commitment of the Orioles’ organization to ensuring that the team is playing in a world-class facility at Camden Yards for decades to come and are excited to advance our public-private partnership. We look forward to writing the next chapter of Major League Baseball in Maryland as we continue to make magic for fans and meaningful investment for communities across our state.”
Said John Angelos, Orioles chairman & CEO:
“I am looking forward to continuing to collaborate with Governor Moore, his administration, and the Maryland Stadium Authority in order to bring to Baltimore the modern, sustainable, and electrifying sports and entertainment destination the state of Maryland deserves. We greatly appreciate Governor Moore’s vision and commitment as we seize the tremendous opportunity to redefine the paradigm of what a Major League Baseball venue represents and thereby revitalize downtown Baltimore. It is my hope and expectation that, together with Governor Moore and the new members and new chairman of the MSA Board, we can again fully realize the potential of Camden Yards to serve as a catalyst for Baltimore’s second renaissance.”
Roster battle: While most of the position battles are clear, there remains uncertainty about who will back up first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and who will be used as a designated hitter.
While catchers Adley Rutschman and James McCann, infielder Terrin Vavra and outfielder Anthony Santander could spend time there, several newcomers who aren’t on the 40-man roster could be in the running. Here’s a rundown:
Ryan O’Hearn: O’Hearn was purchased by the Orioles on January 3rd and designated for assignment two days later. After he passed through waivers, he was assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk. The 29-year-old left-handed hitter has a .219 average in five seasons with the Kansas City Royals. Last season, O’Hearn hit .239 with a home run and 16 RBIs in 67 games. O’Hearn also has started 31 games in right field.
Lewin Díaz: Diaz was designated for assignment five times this offseason, twice by the Orioles. After he was claimed off waivers from Atlanta on January 5th, 13 days after the Orioles traded him to the Braves for cash consideration, he bumped O’Hearn off the roster. When the Orioles claimed left-handed pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez off waivers from Boston, Diaz was designated for the fifth time on January 11th but cleared waivers and was outrighted to Norfolk. In three seasons with Miami, the 26-year-old left-handed hitter hit .181 in 112 games. Last season, Díaz hit .169 with five home runs in 58 games for the Marlins.
Franchy Cordero: Cordero signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on December 2nd. Like O’Hearn and Díaz, he’s a left-handed hitting first baseman. Cordero, who also has played all three outfield positions, is 28 and has played with San Diego, Kansas City and Boston in parts of six major league seasons. In 2022, Cordero hit .219 with eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 84 games with the Red Sox.
Nomar Mazara: Like O’Hearn, Díaz and Cordero, Mazara is a left-handed hitter. At 27, Mazara has the most distinguished resume of the group. From 2016-2019, Mazara averaged 20 homers and 77 RBIs in four seasons with Texas. Since then, he has spent a season each with the White Sox, Tigers and Padres. Last year, Mazara hit .264 with two home runs and 18 RBIs in 55 games with the Padres. Most of Mazara’s experience is in right field.
Josh Lester: The 28-year-old has played just two major league games, both last season for Detroit. Lester signed a minor league contract with the Orioles on December 6th and is another left-handed hitter. In the minors, Lester played the corner infield and corner outfield spots with 26 starts at second base. Lester hit .246 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs for Triple-A Toledo. He also struck out 137 times.
Curtis Terry: The Orioles signed the 27-year-old first baseman/designated hitter to a minor league contract on January 27th. He’s the only right-handed hitter on the list and has played only first base in the minor leagues. Terry’s only major league experience came in 2021 when he was 4-for-45 (.089) with Texas. Last season, Terry hit .250 with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs in 80 games for Triple-A St. Paul in the Minnesota organization.
The Orioles haven’t released their list of non-roster invitees to major league camp, so we don’t know if all of the players mentioned will be training at the Ed Smith Stadium complex later this month. Some will be in the mix for jobs at Triple-A Norfolk.
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