Earlier this morning, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko downplayed the Orioles’ reported interest in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, but that’s far from the only Orioles chatter that’s circulating this morning. Here’s the latest out of Baltimore…
- Orioles director of Major League administration Ned Rice has been hired away by the Phillies, reports Kubatko, who notes that Rice will serve as an assistant of sorts to president Andy MacPhail. Rich Dubroff of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes (near the bottom of his column) that Rice will be an assistant GM with the Phillies. With his new organization, Rice will be reunited with MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak, both of whom he knows well from the trio’s days in the Baltimore front office last decade.
- Kubatko also hears that a move from left field to right field for Korean signee Hyun Soo Kim is out of the question due to concerns over his arm. Additionally, he notes that Kim’s contract does not allow him to be optioned to the Minors without his consent, and the contract also allows Kim to become a free agent after his two years are up. Per Kubatko, Kim could have received a longer contract worth a larger guaranteed sum by remaining in Korea, but his desire to play in the Majors outweighed the immediate financial opportunities in his home country. (Additionally, I’d note that with two strong years in the Majors — or even two competent years — Kim would be poised to earn significantly more than he could make in Korea.)
- First base prospect Christian Walker tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he can’t help but follow the club’s pursuit of free agent Chris Davis and wonder about how either outcome would impact his future with the organization. Still, Walker tells Encina that his primary focus is on preparing for the 2016 campaign and returning to the Majors, where he’s received a small taste of 31 plate appearances. Walker, 24, has an impressive .292/.360/.488 batting line at the Double-A level but has struggled a bit more in Triple-A, batting .257/.327/.424. Walker, as Encina notes, fell out of Baseball America’s Top 10 Orioles prospects this season. He came in at No. 17 on Fangraphs’ recent breakdown of the Orioles’ prospects.
- In another column, Kubatko reminds that the Orioles left right-hander Mychal Givens off their 40-man roster last winter, leaving him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Any club could’ve had Givens, he notes, and the Orioles are fortunate to have retained his promising arm. Givens, a converted shortstop, struggled with his control in 2014 but had a breakout year in 2015 when he recorded a 1.73 ERA with 12.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in 57 1/3 innings at Double-A. Givens, 25, made his big league debut last season in Baltimore and posted strikingly similar numbers: a 1.80 ERA with 11.4 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 in 30 innings. A change in arm slot and more experience on the mound helped the former infielder take his game to a new level, Kubaatko writes. http://www.masnsports.com/school-of-roch/2015/12/givens-not-assuming-hes-in-bullpen-in-2016.htmlGivens tells Kubatko that he’s not merely assuming that he’s won a spot in the 2016 ’pen — though I’d wager that’s a safe assumption.