In two days on Easter Sunday, all MLB teams will be required to trim their active rosters down to 25 players. As such, there has been a flurry of activity all around Major League Baseball these past few days and the Orioles have had their fair share as well. In the past 72 hours, Baltimore has released Minor League players, reassigned non-roster invitees to Minor League Camp, informed several players they have made the 25-man roster, acquired a pair of players, and added players to the DL. Basically if there was a roster transaction that can be made, the Orioles have done it in the past few days. Most of the adjustments in this Depth Chart update have been made to account for those transactions with some related bookkeeping as well.
I’ll break them down by category.
Minor League Releases
The Orioles released ten minor league players today: Pat Egan, Jaime Esquivel, Jeremy Nowak, Chris Pettit, Will Howard, Buddy Sosnoskie, Chase Johnson, Chris Wade, Joe Oliveria, and Adam Greenberg. Greenberg, Sosnoskie, Wade, Pettit, and Johnson were all included on previous versions of the depth chart. Egan had a very good year in 2012 working out of the bullpen at Bowie and Norfolk (1.61 ERA in 67 IP allowing 7.9 H/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 7.1 K/9. Greenberg was best known for bring hit in the head in his very first Major League at bat in 2005 and then signing a one-day contract with the Marlins last season in order to get a second ML at bat. Chris Pettit is a veteran minor league outfielder who – like Greenberg – was a casualty of the outfield roster crunch. Sosnoskie, Wade, and Johnson were all signed out of the independent leagues this winter.
Reassigned to Minor Leagues
Travis Iskikawa (1B), Chris Robinson (C), Adam Russell (RP), Trayvon Robinson (OF), Chris Dickerson (OF), and Kevin Gausman (SP) were reassigned or optioned to the Minors. All of these moves were expected – no real surprises here.
Made 25-man Roster
The Orioles informed Brian Matusz (RP), Jake Arrieta (SP), T.J. McFarland (RP), and Ryan Flaherty (UTL IF/OF) that they will break camp with the big league club. Wilson Betemit’s injury opened up a spot for Flaherty on the roster. The Orioles had a tough decision to make on McFarland, who would have to be returned to Cleveland if he did not make the 25-man roster given his Rule 5 status. It looked like there might not be a sport for McFarland but the ability to put Chris Tillman on the DL opened up a temporary spot (more on this below). Arrieta and Matusz had been considered virtual locks for their respective spots but both were made official today.
On Friday evening (3/29), the Orioles announced they acquired free agent starting pitcher Freddy Garcia and acquired Scott Proctor from the San Francisco Giants for cash. Garcia – the 36-year old Major League veteran – has agreed to make a handful of starts for Norfolk so that the Orioles can evaluate him and make a determination on how he might fit on the Major League roster. Proctor (35) is a veteran reliever who last pitched in the Majors in 2011 for the Yankees and Braves. Once a solid reliever for the Yankees, Proctor had a strong season for Doosan of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2012 (55 1/3 IP, 1.79 ERA, 35 saves, 7.5 K/9 IP, and 3.4 BB/9 IP. He will start in Norfolk according to Dan Duquette and is being looked at as additional bullpen depth.
Moved to the Disabled List
Chris Tillman was placed on the Major League disabled list, retroactive to March 22nd. Tillman was slowed down in early to mid-March with an abdominal strain but has been pitching in some capacity for the last couple of weeks. Tillman is still building up innings and had not appeared in a Grapefruit League game since the 3rd of March. Under the rules, a player can be who has not appeared in an official Spring Training game since before March 22nd can be backdated on the DL to March 22nd. The Orioles opted to do that with Tillman which will allow him to make a start on April 6th in the 5th starter’s slot while also freeing up an additional 25-man roster spot for the first four games of the season. Tillman’s assignment to the DL is strictly a cosmetic move – he threw 5 innings today in an exhibition game – that allows the Orioles to keep Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland on the 25-man roster for a few more days before having to make another roster move.
Steve Johnson was also placed on the Major League DL today. Johnson has been struggling with a back injury. Johnson was almost certainly heading for AAA-Norfolk, but by placing the starting pitcher on the DL, the Orioles can delay using Johnson’s 2nd minor league option until necessary.
Several minor league players – Oliver Drake and Bobby Bundy specifically – are expected to start the season on the minor league DL (in extended Spring Training) according to Steve Melewski of MASN Sports.
What is left before Opening Day?
The Orioles will need to officially add Johnson, Tsuyoshi Wada, and Wilson Betemit to the disabled list. Mark Hendrickson is still on the Major League camp roster but is destined for the Minor Leagues as he continues his transition to a side-arming reliever. Jair Jurrjens – who was bruised by a comebacker in Wednesday night’s Grapefruit League game – will likely avoid a DL stint but still needs to be optioned to AAA-Norfolk.
The only legitimate decision the Orioles still have to make involves the battle for the final bench spot between Conor Jackson and Steve Pearce. I still think Pearce is the favorite but not by a lot. Given Buck Showalter’s delay in making an announcement concerning those two players, it would appear the decision is still up in the air.