The Orioles and left-hander Brian Duensing have agreed to a minor league contract, reports David Hall of the Virginian Pilot (via Twitter). The 33-year-old reliever opted out of a deal with the Royals on May 15. He’ll head to Triple-A Norfolk, per Hall, though he might not be officially activated until later this week.
Duensing, a former third-round pick of the Twins, was a mainstay on the Minnesota pitching staff from 2009-15, but the Twins elected not to re-sign him this season after he hit free agency. Though he made quite a few starts for the Twins early in his career, Duensing eventually settled in as a bullpen piece, logging a 3.84 ERA with 6.2 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 164 innings over his final three seasons with the team that originally drafted him. However, Duensing has long carried significant platoon splits — lefties have hit .238/.295/.325 against him compared to a hefty .292/.352/.462 line from righties — and his strikeout rate plummeted in his final two seasons with Minnesota. He was enjoying success with the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate this season, though, having recorded a 3.10 ERA with a 19-to-5 K/BB ratio in 20 1/3 innings.
The Orioles currently have Brian Matusz as the lone non-closing lefty in their bullpen, but Matusz has struggled quite a bit this year, allowing eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks in just six inning of work with only one strikeout. The O’s have a number of other lefty options at the Triple-A level, though, including one with MLB experience in T.J. McFarland that is on the 40-man roster. Other options for the Birds in Norfolk include Andy Oliver, Cesar Cabral and Jeff Beliveau, each of whom comes with some degree of Major League experience.