The Orioles announced this morning that they have selected the contract of first baseman/corner outfielder Ryan O’Hearn from Triple-A Norfolk. In a corresponding move, the club has designated catcher Anthony Bemboom for assignment.
Baltimore acquired the 29-year-old O’Hearn from the Royals in exchange for cash back in early January, after he’d been designated for assignment in Kansas City. The O’s quickly passed O’Hearn through waivers themselves, gaining the right to retain him in Triple-A without dedicating a 40-man roster spot to him. He’s now back on the 40-man roster and in the big leagues after a strong .300/.349/.725 start to his season in Norfolk. O’Hearn has collected four homers, three doubles and a triple in 43 plate appearances with the Tides thus far in 2023.
Early in his career, O’Hearn looked like a breakout candidate with the Royals. The 2014 eighth-rounder made his big league debut in 2018, posting a torrid .262/.353/.597 batting line and belting a dozen home runs in 170 plate appearances that season. He floundered in 41 plate appearances against fellow lefties, but O’Hearn looked to have the makings of a righty-mashing platoon option at first base.
Things haven’t panned out at all since that outstanding debut, however. The Royals repeatedly showed faith in the slugger, tendering contracts to him in each of the past two offseasons when he’d appeared to be a strong non-tender candidate. In 901 MLB plate appearances from 2019-22, O’Hearn mustered only a .211/.282/.351 batting line with a 26.9% strikeout rate against an 8.7% walk rate.
O’Hearn is being paid a $1.4MM salary in 2023 under the terms of that contract he agreed to with the Royals. He’ll be arbitration-eligible again next offseason if he sticks on the Orioles’ roster for the remainder of the season, although given his struggles since 2019, that’s far from a sure thing. For now, he’ll give them a lefty bat off the bench who can mix in at designated hitter, first base or in either of the outfield corners. The vast majority of his defensive innings as a pro have come at first base (5248 innings), but between the big leagues and the minors, O’Hearn does have a combined 498 innings in left field and 546 innings in right field.
Turning to the 33-year-old Bemboom, he’s appeared in just two games this season and gone 0-for-2 with a walk in three plate appearances. The journeyman backstop has 78 Major League games under his belt, with a tepid .158/.233/.262 batting line through 206 plate appearances along the way.
Bemboom has served as a backup option with the Angels, Rays and O’s over the years, and while his big league production isn’t much to look at, he does carry a more palatable .247/340/.392 slash in just shy of 1100 plate appearances over the course of 291 Triple-A games. He’s generally drawn above-average framing marks, boasts a strong career 34% caught-stealing rate (MLB and minors combined), and has a career mark of 3 Defensive Runs Saved in 513 big league innings behind the dish.
The O’s will have a week to trade Bemboom or attempt to pass him through outright waivers. If he goes unclaimed, Bemboom would have the right to reject an outright assignment, although the O’s agreed to a split big league deal with him last October that presumably comes with a larger rate of pay in Triple-A than he might otherwise receive upon rejecting an assignment and electing minor league free agency. That was seemingly done in large part because the O’s value him as a depth option and want to incentivize him to stick around even if he’s not on the 40-man roster.
Ryan is just mashing in AAA. Let’s hope he has learnt something down there and can bring his bat to help the O’s. They’ve got a decent few weeks coming up against trash teams like ChiSox, Nats, Kittens, and Royals. He should mash against those teams.
ROH is a AAAA player at best and will solidly put together a .210/.285/.375 for the O’s in 2023.
I think you might be overstating the downside potential a bit.
O’Hearn is just replacing Bemboom as the “last guy on the bench”. He’s going to get limited at-bats in favorable situations and is either going to hit and stick with the club or not and get demoted back to AAA.
It’s not like the O’s are about to start giving him 4-5 starts a week.
Time for Bemboom to go home and run the fence business.
Tony Bemboom sounds like a racketeer for sure
Royals got $14 for O’Hearn.
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Bemboom and Spencer Kieboom should be on the same team.
I know they just optioned him and also probably want him to see regular at bats that he likely won’t get in an Os uni as the roster is currently configured, but why O’Hearn over Stowers?
Kudos to Ryan today for continuing to rake. Solid contribution But I still think we kept he wrong reserve 1B. Franchy > Ryan or Lewin thusfar with the small sample size.