What's new as Orioles begin spring training - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

What’s new as Orioles begin spring training

Photo Credit: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports


SARASOTA–The Orioles begin spring training as pitchers and catchers report to the Ed Smith Stadium Complex on Wednesday. Their first workout is on Thursday. Position players report on February 19th, and the first full-squad workout is February 20th. The Orioles host the Boston Red Sox on February 24th in their first Grapefruit League game.

Let’s take a look at what happened since the Orioles played their final game on October 10th in Arlington, Texas.

Who’s new? The Orioles’ biggest acquisition was former Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes, who they got in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers. He should anchor their rotation.


With Félix Bautista missing the 2024 season after Tommy John surgery, the Orioles have a new closer, Craig Kimbrel.

The Orioles didn’t add any minor league players to their 40-man roster in November, and other than Burnes and Kimbrel, the offseason was quiet.

They did add right-handed pitcher Jonathan Heasley for Kansas City, outfielder Sam Hilliard from Atlanta and three infielders — Tyler Nevin, who played with the Orioles in 2021 and 2022, Nick Maton and Liván Soto. Nevin and Maton came from the Detroit Tigers, and Soto was claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels.

The Orioles have a new pitching coach, Drew French, who had been Atlanta’s bullpen coach, and a new assistant pitching coach, Mitch Plassmeyer, who worked in the Orioles’ minor league system.

The biggest news of all was that the team will soon have a new owner. David Rubenstein purchased 40 percent of the team from the Angelos family, and once he’s approved by Major League Baseball, he’ll be the controlling owner. After the death of Peter Angelos, who’s 94 and in frail health, Rubenstein will buy the rest of the team.

Who’s gone? Five players who played for the 2023 Orioles declared free agency and found new teams. Kyle Gibson, who led the team in wins and innings pitched, moved to the St. Louis Cardinals. Second baseman Adam Frazier signed with the Kansas City Royals. Jack Flaherty, who was disappointing after the Orioles acquired him at the trade deadline, will pitch for Detroit. Outfielder Aaron Hicks signed with the Angels. Right-handed reliever Shintaro Fujinami is now with the New York Mets.

Left-hander DL Hall, the Orioles’ top pick in the 2017 draft, and infielder Joey Ortiz were sent to Milwaukee for Burnes.

Chris Holt, who had been the team’s pitching coach and director of pitching for three seasons, is concentrating on the latter title, and Darren Holmes, the assistant pitching coach, is with the Chicago Cubs.

What were the biggest surprises of the offseason? Besides the sale of the team and the Burnes trade, how about the Orioles deciding to offer contracts to each of the 17 players eligible for arbitration?

In a quiet Winter Meetings, the Orioles signing of Kimbrel for $13 million plus an option for 2025, was the largest deal made in Nashville.

What stories should we be looking at from Sarasota? The biggest is whether Jackson Holliday starts the season with the Orioles. The 20-year-old is the consensus top minor league prospect in the game, and he could play shortstop or second base.

In recent years, the rotation always had an opening or two. That’s not the case this spring. Burnes, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer, John Means and Grayson Rodriguez are lined up.

Tyler Wells, who had an impressive first half last season, could be headed for the bullpen.

The only jobs that seem to be undetermined are the last few bullpen spots and a bench player or two.

It will be fascinating to see if Jorge Mateo and Ramón Urías are both on the team if Holliday makes it.

Another interesting player to watch this spring is Heston Kjerstad. The Orioles love his power, and he could see a lot of time as the left-handed hitting designated hitter when the season begins.

Any long shots to watch? If there are injuries, there could be an opening. Michael Pérez, who’s not on the 40-man roster, would probably be the second catcher if there’s an injury to Adley Rutschman or James McCann.

Nevin could make the team if there’s an injury to a first or third basemen, and Hilliard or Ryan McKenna could find their way on the team if an outfielder gets hurt.

Kyle Stowers who had an impressive end to his 2022 season with the Orioles but an awful start to 2023, is back and will get another look.

There are many relievers to watch. If Dillon Tate, who missed last season with an elbow injury, is healthy, he could make the team. There are many others who are vying for one of the final spots in the bullpen.

Note: The Orioles and first baseman/outfielder Ryan O’Hearn agreed to a one-year contract with an option for 2025, avoiding arbitration. All arbitration-eligible players are now signed.

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