- The Orioles optioned Austin Wynns to Triple-A today, as reported by MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli and others. Wynns had been competing with Andrew Susac and Chance Sisco for the secondary catcher role, as Caleb Joseph is in line for the bulk of playing time behind the plate. Sisco is ranked by both MLB.com and Baseball America as the third-best prospect in Baltimore’s system, and has long been considered the Orioles’ catcher of the future. With that in mind, however, the O’s may prefer to keep Sisco in the minors for now in order to give him everyday at-bats rather than limit him to a part-time role.
- As also noted in Ghiroli’s piece, Chris Davis made his return to the Orioles’ lineup today after a two-week absence due to a forearm injury. Davis is tentatively scheduled to play in a minor league game tomorrow, assuming he feels ready to go. Despite losing a good chunk of the spring to the injury, Davis is still expected to be ready for Opening Day.
Orioles designated hitter Mark Trumbo has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 quadriceps strain and will be out of action for the next three to four weeks, tweets Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Meoli adds in a followup tweet that top prospect Ryan Mountcastle has a nondisplaced fracture in his right hand and will be sidelined for the next four to six weeks.
The injury to Trumbo likely means he’ll open the season on the 10-day disabled list. While it’s unfortunate news for Trumbo, that could bode well for both Colby Rasmus and Danny Valencia, each of whom is in camp on a non-roster deal and hoping to make the 25-man roster out of camp. Both had decent chances of making the team anyhow, though an early absence from Trumbo creates an easier path to playing time — particularly for the right-handed-hitting Valencia. It’s possible that an injury to Trumbo could also open the door for Pedro Alvarez, another veteran in camp with the O’s on a minor league pact.
As for the 21-year-old Mountcastle, he has just 39 games above the Class-A Advanced under his belt, so he was always going to be ticketed for the minors anyhow. The loss of up to six weeks, though, will slow the beginning of his season and further delay his ultimate path to the Orioles. There’s been plenty of debate about his eventual position on the diamond, but Mountcastle’s bat has been impressive in the minors for the most part. He hit .314/.343/.542 in 379 plate appearances at Class-A Advanced last year before struggling in his brief time in Double-A. Baseball America, (#71), Baseball Prospectus (#65) and MLB.com (#98) all ranked him among the game’s Top 100 prospects entering the season.
- The Orioles’ roster further took shape yesterday with the news that outfielder Joey Rickard has been optioned to Triple-A and veteran infielder Ruben Tejada was assigned to minor league camp. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com looks at the team’s utility infielder opening, noting that Engelb Vielma, Luis Sardinas and Danny Valencia are all candidates. While Valencia, of course, doesn’t have shortstop experience, the O’s have two viable shortstop options on the roster in Manny Machado and Tim Beckham. Kubatko adds that the O’s could take a look at Erick Aybar if he doesn’t make the Twins’ roster this spring, and he notes that Baltimore could also pursue a reunion with Ryan Flaherty if he does not break camp with the Phillies.
- The Orioles spoke with Lance Lynn’s agents right up until the time he signed with the Twins, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. However, Lynn was seeking a two-year deal from the Orioles, whereas he agreed to a one-year, $12MM deal in order to join the Twins. Kubatko adds that the Orioles are of the impression that fellow right-hander Alex Cobb is also seeking a multi-year deal and that a contract comparable to Lynn’s pact with the Twins won’t get the job done.
The Orioles have signed lefty Hunter Cervenka to a minor-league deal, per a club announcement. He’ll join the minor-league side of camp.
Cervenka, 28, lost his 40-man spot with the Marlins late last year and was released a few days ago. Things just never worked out in Miami after the team picked him up from the Braves via trade in the summer of 2016.
Baltimore will hope that Cervenka can finally learn to tamp down on the free passes that have long plagued him. He’ll presumably spend the rest of camp fighting for a placement with one of the club’s top affiliates and, eventually, a chance to earn a call-up if a need arises at the MLB level.
- Andrew Cashner wouldn’t have signed his two-year, $16MM deal with the Orioles unless he was allowed to keep his beard, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun reports. The O’s usually have a ban on facial hair (besides “a well-manicured goatee”) but an exemption was made for Cashner, provided that he keeps his beard neatly trimmed. “I just think it’s a part of who I am, and it’s a part of my personality — it’s just me. I think this length is kind of what it’s supposed to be, I guess,” Cashner said, who noted that he disliked having to shave his beard when he played for the Marlins, another club with a facial hair ban.
The Orioles had talks over the winter with then-free agent right-hander Lance Lynn, who finally exited the market Saturday when he agreed to sign with the Twins. Lynn ended up with a one-year, $12MM pact, but he perhaps could have gotten a longer deal in Baltimore. The Orioles may have been willing to give Lynn either three guaranteed years or two with a vesting option, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Lynn would have been the third and (likely the best) starter to sign with the Orioles in recent weeks. They previously added Andrew Cashner and re-signed Chris Tillman. There remains room for improvement, which general manager Dan Duquette realizes. “We need to find some answers to our pitching staff,” Duquette admitted to Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com as part of a Q&A that’s worth reading in full. While Duquette noted that “it’s getting kind of late in the spring training period for pitchers to get ready,” he’s nonetheless not ruling out adding another starter in free agency or via trade.
- Jon Jay was still seeking a fairly notable two-year deal when the Orioles signed Colby Rasmus to a minor league deal, reports MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. The O’s even checked back with Jay’s camp last week, he adds, but didn’t get any indication that Jay was willing to sign the type of contract he took with the Royals: a one-year, $3MM deal with a reported $1.5MM available via incentives. Jay fit the profile the Orioles were reportedly seeking for much of the offseason — a left-handed hitter who would be an upgrade defensively over some of their current corner options.
The Rays are preparing to utilize a four-man rotation for the entirety of the coming season, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes, with the expectation being that the club will load up the bullpen with multi-inning-capable arms. Topkin covers a wide range of possibilities for the relief corps and details the club’s thinking behind the unusual move. The plan is to utilize a string of relievers to work the fifth rotation spot, rather than designating a single pitcher to take that job. That approach seems designed both to take advantage of the organization’s options and to incorporate some analytical lessons on platoons and pitchers facing an order multiple times.
More from the east:
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post checks in on Mets third baseman David Wright, who is still plugging away in a comeback effort that seems unlikely to succeed. He says he wants to give it everything he can so that his “head can hit the pillow and I know I made every effort to play.” But that doesn’t mean it’s easy for the 33-year-old to be a part of a team that’s likely never to put him back on the field. “The mental part of coming in and knowing you bring nothing to the table as far as helping the team get ready for the season and helping the team win, for me, is the hardest part,” says Wright, “as hard as physical part of the rehab process.” Wright’s devastating combination of injuries is well-documented, of course. Remarkably, he was still capable of productive hitting when he briefly appeared on the field in 2015 and 2016, but Wright was only able to suit up for three High-A contests last year.
- The Nationals don’t have a particularly clear role for outfielder Brian Goodwin, but as Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com writes, new skipper Davey Martinez intends to find ways to utilize Goodwin. The 27-year-old doesn’t exactly sound like he’s excited by the organization’s plans after he turned in a solid 2017 campaign. “I don’t think my role is defined, or ever has been since I’ve been in camp,” Goodwin said. “I come into camp and I feel like I’m trying to earn a spot, trying to find somewhere – a home, where I can play every day, start 162 games and play every day for somebody whether it’s here or anywhere.”
- Speaking of lefty hitting outfielders, the Orioles came into the offseason badly needing one. The club erred in its approach to filling that need, Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com argues. Baltimore ended up drawing Colby Rasmus back out of retirement with a deal that could actually exceed the one that Jon Jay just signed with the Royals. The issue, says Connolly, is that Jay suits the O’s needs much more than does Rasmus — and also was the desired target of team leaders Adam Jones and Manny Machado. It’s an interesting look at the team’s decisionmaking process.
- The Orioles remain open to adding a third free-agent starter after signing Andrew Cashner and bringing Chris Tillman back, writes MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko. They’re still checking in on everyone from Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn to former Oriole Jake Arrieta, he notes. That said, Kubatko adds that the O’s are heartened by the way their internal options have looked thus far, with Mike Wright, David Hess, Yefry Ramirez, and Rule 5 picks Nestor Cortes and Pedro Araujo all of interest to Baltimore decision-makers.