- The Orioles will place left-hander Wade Miley on the 10-day disabled list to open the season, but he’s not actually expected to miss a start, according to Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. Miley’s DL stint will be backdated, and his first start wasn’t expected to come until April 9 anyhow. Also on the DL will be right-hander Chris Tillman, as has been previously reported, and Rule 5 outfielder Anthony Santander, who is dealing with elbow and shoulder issues.
- First baseman/outfielder Trey Mancini has made the Orioles’ Opening Day roster, as has outfielder Joey Rickard, per Meoli’s colleague, Eduardo A. Encina. It sounds as if veteran outfielder Craig Gentry will be making the roster as well, though Encina suggests that Gentry’s fate is ultimately tied to that of Rule 5 pick Aneury Tavarez, whom Meoli reported to be on waivers yesterday. If and when Tavarez clears or is claimed by another club, a 40-man spot for Gentry will be opened. Meanwhile, slugger Pedro Alvarez and second baseman Johnny Giavotella are Triple-A-bound to open the season, as are right-handers Alec Asher and Logan Verrett, per a club announcement.
The Orioles will likely assign right-hander Oliver Drake to Triple-A after he cleared outright waivers, according to Rich Dubroff of PressBoxOnline.com (via Twitter). Drake entered the spring out of options, meaning he had to make the active roster to keep his 40-man spot.
Drake, 30, has shown some swing-and-miss ability in 33 2/3 MLB innings over the past two seasons, and has been quite productive in the upper minors. Indeed, he has compiled a 13.5% swinging-strike rate in the majors with his intriguing forkball.
While it seemed Drake had a reasonable shot at cracking the O’s pen, he struggled quite a bit this spring. He allowed 13 earned runs on 23 hits over 13 1/3 innings, though he did record 13 strikeouts to go with just three walks.
- Right-hander Vance Worley and the Orioles have mutual interest in a reunion, reports Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. Worley certainly makes sense as a depth piece for the O’s following his recent release from the nearby Nationals. The 29-year-old Worley logged 86 2/3 innings with Baltimore last season and posted a solid 3.53 ERA, though his secondary stats were less impressive in nature; Worley averaged 5.8 K/9 against 3.6 BB/9 with a fastball that averaged just over 89 mph and the worst hard-contact rate of his career (31.6 percent). Manager Buck Showalter sounded intrigued about the possibility of bringing Worley back to Baltimore, telling Encina: “It’s different with a guy like Worley because you have a prior [history] with him. It’s like he’s been through camp with us. In fact, he’s been through the fire of the season.”
The Orioles have placed outfielder Aneury Tavarez, one of their two picks in last year’s Rule 5 Draft, on outright waivers, reports Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. If no team claims Tavarez, the 24-year-old will be offered back to the Red Sox organization, from which he was selected in December.
Any club that claims Tavarez would need to follow the same Rule 5 restrictions facing the Orioles; in other words, Tavarez must be carried on a team’s 25-man roster or else be placed on waivers and, upon clearing, offered back to Boston. Tavarez’s waiver period ends on Friday, according to Meoli. If he ends up back in Boston, the Red Sox are free to option Tavarez back to the minor leagues.
[Related: Baltimore Orioles Depth Chart]
Tavarez faced an uphill battle to crack a crowded Orioles outfield picture this spring, though he performed reasonably well in the chances he was given, hitting .292/.382/.396 with a homer and eight steals in 48 at-bats. However, the O’s have Hyun Soo Kim, Adam Jones, Seth Smith, Mark Trumbo and Joey Rickard as likely outfield options this coming season. Beyond that, non-roster invitee Craig Gentry has reportedly caught the eye of manager Buck Showalter. Elsewhere on the 40-man roster, Anthony Santander (another Rule 5 selection) is yet another option, though he’s currently dealing with some elbow soreness. Veteran utility infielder Ryan Flaherty, too, figures to see some time on the outfield grass this season as well.
Last year, Tavarez split the season between Boston’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, batting a collective .330/.374/.495 with seven homers and 20 stolen bases in 441 trips to the plate. He followed that up with a solid, but lesser performance in the Dominican Winter League, where he batted .283/.349/.362 in 175 plate appearances (prior to the aforementioned Spring Training performance).
TODAY: Johnson has re-signed on a minors deal, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. As Kubatko and others have noted on Twitter, Bourn seems likely to follow suit; neither player’s locker was cleared out despite their respective releases.
MONDAY: The Orioles have announced the releases of outfielder Michael Bourn and infielder Chris Johnson. In Bourn’s case, he utilized his opt-out clause, with the team evidently unwilling to place him on the 40-man roster.
Of course, Bourn has missed most of spring camp with a broken finger, which sapped any chance at making the Opening Day roster. But it had seemed there was a chance he’d remain in the organization while rehabbing to see whether there’d be an opportunity when he returned to full health.
That said, the fit in Baltimore was never that great — at least from an outside perspective. In Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith, the O’s already have a pair of lefty bats that ought to occupy the corners whenever there’s a righty on the mound. And while Bourn could have spelled Adam Jones in center, that wasn’t exactly a burning need. The righty-swinging Craig Gentry could fill that role while also providing a more sensible platoon option in the corners.
It still won’t come as much of a surprise if Bourn resurfaces in the majors before long. Whether he’ll wait to sign until he’s ready to return isn’t clear, but in either event he could represent an intriguing depth option for a variety of organizations. After all, though his bat has steadily declined of late, he finished strong last year with the O’s and is still capable of contributing in the field and with the glove.
As for Johnson, a solid spring (.269/.310/.493) wasn’t enough to move the needle for the O’s, who seem likely to prioritize flexibility and defense with their bench mix. The 32-year-old had been a rather productive major league hitter before signing an extension with the Braves early in the 2014 season. Over the past three campaigns, he has scuffled to a .252/.288/.348 batting line in 1,068 plate appearances.
The Orioles have acquired righty Alec Asher from the Phillies, per a team announcement. Baltimore will send a player to be named in the transaction, which gives Philadelphia an open 40-man spot.
This is the second trade the 25-year-old Asher has been a part of since the Rangers chose him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft. Texas sent him to Philadelphia as part of the package to acquire Cole Hamels in 2015, though Asher scuffled that year in his major league debut with the Phillies. Across seven starts and 29 innings, he logged a 9.31 ERA, 4.97 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 36.1 percent ground-ball rate. Asher was far more effective at the big league level last season (2.28 ERA, 4.23 K/9, 1.3 B/9 and a 35.2 percent grounder rate), but he did serve an 80-game Triple-A suspension after testing positive for a testosterone-related performance-enhancing drug.
With two minor league options remaining, Asher figures to see further Triple-A time with Baltimore, though general manager Dan Duquette expects him to contribute to the Orioles this year.
“Asher is a solid major league pitcher who our scouts have liked for a few seasons that we believe will help our club this season,” said Duquette (via Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun). “He has good size, three major league pitches and command of himself and his pitches.”
- Winning a job with the Orioles would complete a remarkable turn-around for Craig Gentry, as the outfielder tells Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that just months ago, he felt his career coming to an end. Gentry suffered a concussion (the sixth of his career) in September 2014 and was bothered by symptoms for almost two years; combined with a lumbar injury last year, Gentry was limited to just 40 total plate appearances over the last two seasons. These issues caused Gentry to question his passion to keep playing, though after his health finally began to improve this offseason, a session with Orioles hitting coach Scot Coolbaugh paved the way for Gentry to sign a minor league deal with the O’s. That contract doesn’t give Gentry an opt-out until the middle of June, though it could be a moot point if Gentry breaks camp with the team.
- Pedro Alvarez’s minor league deal with the Orioles includes an opt-out clause in May, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports. Alvarez is trying to make the O’s as an outfielder, which could be a tough call given Alvarez’s inexperience at the position and the number of other outfield candidates also in camp, Kubatko notes.
It usually isn’t a good tactic for free agents to accept the first offer that comes their way, yet this past offseason, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman notes that several players would have been better served by accepting deals before the new collective bargaining agreement was finalized. Many free agents, particularly sluggers like Mark Trumbo, saw their offers drop after the new CBA was settled in early December, as teams were suddenly more wary about spending in the wake of more punitive luxury tax rules. Trumbo tells Heyman that he doesn’t regret returning to the Orioles on a three-year, $37.5MM deal, though the implication was that a larger offer was on the table for an undetermined amount. Reports from earlier this winter indicated that the Orioles themselves initially offered Trumbo a larger deal in the four-year, $52MM range.
- The Blue Jays talked to Pedro Alvarez before the slugger re-signed with the Orioles on a minor league deal. Toronto has switch-hitters Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak slated for DH and first base, respectively, though Steve Pearce and possibly Jose Bautista will get some time at both positions as well. Alvarez would have brought some needed left-handed pop to a Jays lineup that is heavy on right-handed bats, and he could’ve also maybe helped out in left field given how Alvarez has been working out as an outfielder this winter.
- Craig Gentry, who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles last month, “has impressed Buck Showalter” and is looking in good position to break camp with the team. The O’s could use platoons in both left and right field, with Hyun Soo Kim and Seth Smith as the left-handed bats and Gentry and Joey Rickard providing the right-handed hitting support. This could mean that Rule 5 picks Anthony Santander and Aneury Tavarez may end up back with their old clubs, though Santander could be saved on the DL as he recovers from offseason shoulder surgery, as well as elbow and neck issues this spring.