The Orioles released left-hander T.J. McFarland over the weekend, but MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes that Baltimore is hopeful that it will be able to re-sign the southpaw to a minor league deal. The O’s wanted more flexibility with their bullpen options, according to Kubatko, which is why they acquired Vidal Nuno and Richard Bleier in separate transactions. Both lefties have minor league options remaining, whereas McFarland couldn’t be sent down without first being exposed to waivers. By my count, the O’s will be on the hook for just over $112K of the $685K salary to which McFarland had agreed, even if he’s not re-signed. (Arbitration salaries aren’t fully guaranteed.) The 27-year-old McFarland turned in a strong 2.78 ERA in 58 2/3 innings back in 2014, but he’s limped to a 5.68 earned run average in 65 big league frames since. More troubling, his walk and strikeout rates have gone in the wrong direction; last season, he punched out just seven hitters in 24 innings of work.
A couple more notes out of Baltimore as the Orioles face off with the Yankees in Grapefruit League play…
- The recent signings of Michael Bourn and Craig Gentry have created an even more difficult path for Rule 5 outfielders Aneury Tavarez and Anthony Santander to make the Orioles’ roster, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The 24-year-old Tavarez has impressed early, and manager Buck Showalter called him a “potential leadoff guy,” noting that the team is still trying to evaluate him from a defensive standpoint. As Encina notes, Tavarez would give the Orioles some sorely needed speed on the basepaths — something the Orioles have sought for much of the winter. Last season, the former Red Sox farmhand hit .330/.374/.495 in 441 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A. Santander had shoulder surgery this winter and hasn’t been cleared to play the outfield just yet, though Showalter thinks he’ll get that clearance soon, per Encina.
- Ryan Flaherty is dealing with an undisclosed arm injury, Encina writes in a second piece. While it’s not believed to be serious at this time, the injury still creates the potential for further depth issues with the O’s. J.J. Hardy has already been dealing with back spasms this spring, and Flaherty can serve as a backup not only at shortstop but at all four infield spots. Baltimore did ink Paul Janish to a minors deal last week, giving them a familiar face and an additional depth option in the infield. In more positive news, Rich Dubroff writes for MLB.com that the oblique issue that has been plaguing Zach Britton looks to have subsided. Showalter said he’s not exactly sure when Britton will get into a spring game, but it should be in the early portion of March.