The Orioles announced Wednesday that they’ve claimed lefty Kirk McCarty off waivers from the Guardians and opened a spot on the roster by designating righty Marcos Diplan for assignment. Baltimore also shuffled up its bullpen by optioning lefty Nick Vespi to Triple-A Norfolk and recalling righty Beau Sulser in his place.
McCarty made his big league debut with the O’s this season but was hit hard, surrendering 13 runs (12 earned) on 18 hits and six walks with eight punchouts in a dozen innings. Of those 18 hits he yielded, a whopping six were home runs.
That said, the 26-year-old McCarty has pitched fairly well in Triple-A this season, notching a 3.77 ERA with a below-average 18.7% strikeout rate but a strong 7.1% walk rate. He also has all three minor league option years remaining (2022 included), which creates the potential that he could serve as rotation depth in Baltimore beyond the current season. The Orioles’ rotation has been in a constant state of flux throughout their rebuild, so having some extra optionable depth on hand is never a bad thing.
Alternatively, the O’s could try McCarty in the ’pen to see just how much his 92 mph average fastball velocity might tick up (and perhaps to focus more heavily on one of his three secondary offerings — likely his curveball). The O’s are currently getting excellent work from both Cionel Perez and Keegan Akin, but there’s plenty of fluidity on the fringes of the relief corps and no reason the O’s couldn’t carry three lefty relievers.
As for the 25-year-old Diplan, he’s appeared in each of the past two seasons with the O’s, pitching to a combined 4.04 ERA, 21.3% strikeout rate and 13.3% walk rate in 35 2/3 innings off work. He’s yielded just one run earned run in 5 2/3 big league innings so far in 2022, albeit with a less-appealing 8-to-5 K/BB ratio. He also carries a 3.12 ERA in a a total of 43 2/3 career innings of Triple-A ball, but those same command issues have persisted in the upper minors; Diplan has walked 24 of the 197 hitters he’s faced in Triple-A (12.2%) and hit another pair.
The O’s have passed Diplan through outright waivers unclaimed on two occasions in the past — once in 2020 and once in 2021. Both times, he’s returned to the organization. Because of those prior outrights, he can reject another outright assignment if he clears waivers a third time. The O’s will have a week to trade him, try to put him through waivers, or release him.