Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-20T14:02:28Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Andrew Velazquez, Designate Richard Urena]]> 2020-02-19T19:01:09Z 2020-02-19T18:46:53Z The Orioles have claimed utilityman Andrew Velazquez off waivers from the Indians, per a club announcement. To create roster space, the team designated fellow infielder Richard Urena.

Velazquez, a 25-year-old switch-hitter, has only minimal MLB experience. In 648 total plate appearances at the Triple-A level, he owns a .260/.316/.415 batting line with 16 home runs.

If Urena clears waivers, he’ll likely end up competing for a job with Velazquez … among others. Both of these players have similar backgrounds — including that they primarily came up as shortstops. Velazquez has greater experience at other spots, particularly the outfield.

The field is rather broad. Urena had himself been claimed off waivers recently. With that move, the O’s dropped Pat Valaika, who’s also still in camp — as is fellow recent addition Ramon Urias. Other utility candidates with MLB experience include Stevie Wilkerson, Jose Rondon, Dilson Herrera, and Jesmuel Valentin. Those and perhaps still other players will be looking to win spots in the bench mix, as the O’s appear set to go with a double-play combo of Jose Iglesias and Hanser Alberto.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Davis Considered Retiring ]]> 2020-02-18T04:53:11Z 2020-02-18T04:53:11Z Then among the most threatening sluggers in baseball, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis re-signed with the team on a seven-year, $161MM contract prior to the 2016 campaign. Davis was coming off a 47-home run, 5.4-fWAR season at the time, but his output has tanked since he signed his contract. The lefty swinger was stunningly unproductive from 2018-19 – an 854-plate appearance run in which he hit .172/.256/.308 with 28 HRs. Davis easily ranked last in the majors in fWAR in the process, accounting for minus-4.5.

The 33-year-old Davis, cognizant of how far he has fallen with the Orioles, admitted Monday (via Roch Kubatko of that he recently considered retiring. “I’d be lying if I told you that wasn’t at least talked about toward the end of the season last year and this offseason,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of. I know what I expect of myself and I don’t want to continue to just struggle and be a below-average, well below-average producer at the plate. And I don’t think that’s fair to these guys. And I don’t think, honestly, it’s fair to our fans, or to anybody that’s associated with Baltimore.”

For now, Davis is hanging around and hoping for a better showing in 2020. If that doesn’t occur, though, it’ll be interesting to see if he walks away or the Orioles cut him. The soon-to-be 34-year-old still has another $69MM left on his contract (including deferrals), so an early breakup wouldn’t be easy for either side.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Richard Bleier Fully Healthy Entering Spring]]> 2020-02-15T14:07:14Z 2020-02-15T14:07:14Z
  • Orioles reliever Richard Bleier is at full strength entering spring training, reports Roch Kubatko of MASN. The 32-year-old was sidelined by shoulder soreness early in 2019, perhaps contributing to his career-worst 5.37 ERA in 53 appearances last year. Kubatko unsurprisingly characterizes the soft-tossing ground-ball specialist as an essential lock to make Baltimore’s Opening Day roster. If Bleier can regain the form that saw him post a sub-2.00 ERA in both 2017 and 2018 (albeit with less inspiring peripherals), he’d be a solid trade chip for the rebuilding club. Bleier is making just $915K this season and comes with two additional years of team control.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Tommy Milone]]> 2020-02-13T19:44:54Z 2020-02-13T18:53:51Z The Orioles have agreed to a minor league deal and invitation to Major League Spring Training with veteran left-hander Tommy Milone, Roch Kubatko of reports (via Twitter). Milone, a client of All Bases Covered Sports Management, will presumably join the competition to secure a spot in a paper-thin Baltimore rotation.

    Milone, who’ll turn 33 this Sunday, spent the 2019 season with the Mariners, for whom he soaked up 111 2/3 innings while compiling a 4.76 ERA with 7.6 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 36.7 percent ground-ball rate. Long known to be a fly-ball pitcher, Milone struggled to keep the ball in the yard — as did a great many pitchers — averaging 1.85 long balls per nine innings pitched. His excellent control helped to minimize the damage of those home runs, but dropping a pitcher with a career 1.49 HR/9 mark into the American League East could prove problematic even if Milone does end up as a starter for the O’s.

    That said, Milone has been a generally durable source of innings, although his year-to-year totals in the Majors don’t reflect that trait due to his considerable time in the minors in recent seasons. Milone has missed small batches of time due to elbow, biceps and shoulder troubles, but the only time he’s missed even a month on the injured list came as a result of a knee injury with the Mets back in 2017.

    In total, Milone has pitched to a career 4.47 ERA in 874 2/3 innings split between the Nationals, Athletics, Twins, Mets, Mariners and Brewers. Along the way, the soft-tossing southpaw has averaged 6.7 strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched. He’s the same type of control-over-stuff lefty that the Orioles recently added in Wade LeBlanc, albeit one who is a few years younger and coming off a superior showing in 2019.

    The Orioles’ rotation currently consists of John Means, Alex Cobb and Asher Wojciechowski, which should give Milone ample opportunity to seize a spot if he impresses during Spring Training.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Ramon Urias]]> 2020-02-11T18:53:16Z 2020-02-11T18:47:30Z The Orioles announced they’ve claimed infielder Ramon Urias off waivers from the Cardinals. Fellow infielder Pat Valaika was outrighted after clearing waivers, the team further announced.

    It’s the latest in a long-running string of infield additions for the O’s, who’ve collected young glove-men at nearly the same rate the Giants have claimed relief pitchers. Urias and Valaika will both be among the camp competitors for utility roles, presuming there is no further action in the next week.

    Urias spent most of his developmental time in the Mexican League, impressing there before jumping to the Cards. He’s primarily a second baseman but also has logged substantial time at the hot corner.

    Though Urias has shown well with the bat at times over the past two seasons, he hasn’t yet forced his way into the majors. Urias slashed .263/.369/.424 in 375 Triple-A plate appearances last year — a touch below average in that high-powered offensive environment — but has since struggled quite a bit in Mexican winter ball.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Elias: Orioles Still In Talks With Free Agent Pitchers]]> 2020-02-10T15:27:44Z 2020-02-10T15:27:44Z Pitchers and catcher report to Orioles camp in Sarasota, Fla. tomorrow, but the club might not yet be done with its offseason shopping. General manager Mike Elias said over the weekend at a Birdland Caravan event that he’s still open to adding a pitcher — suggesting that the rotation, in particular, is an area of need (video link via

    We may be adding more players, either prior to the beginning of camp or shortly thereafter. There’s going to be a lot of bodies — a lot of competition. Some guys will have the inside edge over others, just because of what they’ve done recently or done in their career, but past a healthy [John] Means and a healthy [Alex] Cobb, nothing’s really set in stone. … We definitely know we have some uncertainty, and we need some depth. … We’re talking Major League contracts and Minor League contracts with pitchers out there on the market right now. Whether a Major League contract comes together, I can’t tell right now, but we’re certainly open to offering those and have offered those.

    The bulk of the remaining free agents on the market appear to be likelier candidates for non-guaranteed deals, although a few remaining veterans could sign big league pacts. Righty Taijuan Walker reportedly has a Major League offer in hand from the Mariners, for instance. A similar upside play on Aaron Sanchez or Danny Salazar would be more appealing were either to be promised a 40-man roster spot. Veterans like Jason Vargas and old friend Andrew Cashner both had some success in 2019 before poor finishes to the season. As a former Astros assistant GM, Elias also knows righty Collin McHugh quite well.

    It’s always possible that other opportunities will present themselves later in camp as well. Many veteran free agents on minor league deals with other clubs will trigger opt-out provisions after being informed that they won’t make the Opening Day roster in their current organizations. That could give the O’s some new options later in camp. As for signing a current free agent, Elias implied that if it happens, it’ll be sooner rather than later, alluding to the struggles of some veterans who signed after sitting out a notable chunk of camp:

    It just seems like recent history, those pitchers that had not had the benefit of a ’normal’ Spring Training, they get off to a slow start. It just seems to be the case. That doesn’t mean the bell rings on Tuesday, and we’re done, but it’s something that we’ll be increasingly mindful of as the spring gets deeper.

    The 2017-18 offseason, in particular, provided several cautionary tales. The Twins’ signing of Lance Lynn (March 12), the Cardinals’ signing of Greg Holland (March 31) and the Orioles’ own signing of Cobb (March 20) all produced results well below those pitchers’ previous standards.

    At the moment, the Orioles’ rotation seems likely to consist of Means, Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski and non-roster invitee Wade LeBlanc. The O’s also inked former Twins prospect Kohl Stewart to a big league deal, although he has minor league options remaining and isn’t assured to break camp with the club. Rule 5 pick Brandon Bailey will be in the competition, as will some incumbent arms like David Hess and prospects Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer. LeBlanc, former Giants lefty Ty Blach and former Astros righty Brady Rodgers are among the other non-roster options set to report to camp.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Alex Cobb Throwing Off Mound]]> 2020-02-07T14:18:39Z 2020-02-07T14:18:39Z
  • Orioles righty Alex Cobb is hoping for a healthier 2020 season and has already been throwing off a mound at Orioles minicamp, per Roch Kubatko of The 32-year-old Cobb, who signed a surprising four-year, $57MM deal late in the 2017-18 offseason, has been limited to 164 2/3 innings in Baltimore and hasn’t pitched effectively at all when healthy. A back injury cost him nearly all of the 2019 season — Cobb pitched in just three games last year — and he’s still owed $29MM under that four-year pact. A healthy Cobb would be a boon for a perilously thin rotation mix in Baltimore. Beyond him, the Orioles will lean on lefty John Means, journeyman Asher Wojociechowski and perhaps non-roster invitee Wade Leblanc. Baltimore’s only rotation additions this winter have been Leblanc, Rule 5 pick Brandon Bailey and former Twins prospect Kohl Stewart.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Outright Branden Kline, Stevie Wilkerson]]> 2020-02-05T21:50:43Z 2020-02-05T21:49:38Z 3:49pm: While Wilkerson had the option to elect free agency, he’s instead chosen to accept his assignment to Norfolk, the Orioles announced. Both Kline and Wilkerson will be in Major League camp as non-roster invitees during Spring Training.

    12:37pm: The Orioles have outrighted righty Branden Kline and utilityman Stevie Wilkerson, per Dan Connolly of The Athletic (via Twitter). Both cleared waivers after recently being designated for assignment.

    Kline, a former second-round draft pick, struggled to a 5.93 ERA in his first taste of the majors last year. He throws hard but didn’t fool many hitters, managing only 7.5 K/9 against 4.2 BB/9 while allowing nearly a fifty percent hard contact rate and 2.0 homers per nine innings. Kline will remain with the Baltimore organization, as he does not have the right to elect free agency.

    As for the 28-year-old Wilkerson, he will have the right to choose a trip onto the open market. He has spent his entire career to date with the O’s after being selected in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. Wilkerson got a long look in 2019 but limped to a .225/.286/.383 batting line in 361 plate appearances. He has put up solid numbers at the plate in the upper minors and is capable of playing just about anywhere on the diamond

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[East Notes: McNeil, Voit, Givens]]> 2020-02-03T22:14:56Z 2020-02-03T22:14:56Z While we wait to learn more about a possible earth-shaking swap from the AL East — participate in our poll while there’s still time! — let’s check in on a few other storylines from the game’s eastern divisions.

    • Mets utilityman Jeff McNeil anticipates settling in a bit in 2020, as Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News reports. It was largely evident just from looking at the New York roster situation, but McNeil confirms that he’s preparing to spend much of his time at the hot corner. “I think I’ll be playing a lot of third,” he said over the weekend. The 27-year-old says he’ll be a full go when camp opens. While a late-season wrist injury bothered him until late in 2019, McNeil says he’s over it now and has more or less had a normal offseason.
    • Speaking of winter recoveries, Yankees first baseman Luke Voit says he’s fitter than ever after undergoing core surgery, as George A. King III of the New York Post writes. That’s good news for him and for the club after Voit experienced a subpar, injury marred 2019 effort. He’ll need to prove in camp that he deserves a job. As King further explores, the club could lean on left-handed-hitting Mike Ford (perhaps in conjunction with Voit) and will also see how third baseman Miguel Andujar handles the other side of the infield.
    • It remains surprising that we haven’t heard more trade chatter this winter surrounding Orioles reliever Mychal Givens. That’s just fine with him. The 29-year-old says he’ll continue to “bleed black and orange” unless and until he is put into another uniform. With two full seasons to go until free agency, Givens is at the mercy of the team — except that his own performance is a major factor in his trade candidacy. Givens expressed optimism at his ability to bounce back from a rough showing last year; if he can do so, he could be a significant trade chip at the 2020 trade deadline. “Some great things have really been going on and are going to happen in the near future,” Givens says, “so hopefully I can stay here if I can. If not, it’s been a good road, but right now, like I said, I’m an Oriole.”
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Orioles To Have Full, Open Camp]]> 2020-02-01T14:54:10Z 2020-02-01T14:51:56Z
  • The Orioles are set to have close to 66 players invited to camp this spring, and they’re not capping the number there, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. Manager Brandon Hyde is excited about having a competitive atmosphere in his second season on the job. Baltimore has more opportunity than most camps with few set roles on their 25-man roster. For those interested in wide-open camp battles, this is the one to watch.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Travis Lakins, Designate Stevie Wilkerson]]> 2020-01-31T20:10:16Z 2020-01-31T20:00:26Z The Orioles announced Friday that they’ve claimed righty Travis Lakins off waivers from the Cubs. Infielder/outfielder Stevie Wilkerson was designated for assignment in a corresponding roster move.

    Lakins, 25, was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier this winter and subsequently traded to Chicago for cash. Although he’d consistently ranked in the No. 15-25 range of a thin Boston farm system, the Ohio State product has yet to put together a particularly strong showing in the Majors or in the upper minors. Lakins made his big league debut this past season, yielding a 3.86 ERA with a lackluster 18-to-10 K/BB ratio in 23 2/3 innings for Boston. His work in Triple-A has been rather similar, as he’s compiled a 3.82 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and slightly below-average grounder rates in parts of two seasons there. Lakins worked as a starter earlier in his career but has pitched primarily out of the bullpen the past couple of seasons.

    Wilkerson, 28, is a career .219/.279/.365 hitter in 410 plate appearances — most of which came this past season in Baltimore. He’s spent time at all three outfield positions with the O’s in addition to second base and third base, although he’s most likely remembered by many for his absurd home run robbery against Jackie Bradley Jr. at Fenway Park this past season (video link). He also holds the distinction of being the first position player to earn a save, which he did when pitching the 16th inning of a marathon win over the Angels on July 25 of this past season.

    The switch-hitting Wilkerson hasn’t spent much time in Triple-A but has had some success there, hitting .294/.340/.478 through 153 trips to the plate. Wilkerson has generally been a versatile defender with respectable batting average/on-base percentage marks but limited power in the minors; since being drafted out of Clemson in the eighth round back in 2014, he’s hit .268/.342/.371 in six minor league seasons.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Claim Pat Valaika, Designate Branden Kline]]> 2020-01-30T19:13:56Z 2020-01-30T19:05:50Z The Orioles announced Thursday that they’ve re-claimed infielder Pat Valaika off waivers from the Diamondbacks and designated right-hander Branden Kline for assignment in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster.

    Baltimore designated Valaika for assignment earlier this month, surely hoping to pass him through waivers and retain him without dedicating a 40-man roster spot to the 27-year-old. Instead, the Diamondbacks claimed him and briefly hung onto him until needing a roster spot of their own following the acquisition of Starling Marte. The O’s have been on the lookout for infield depth since losing Valaika, and they’ll now welcome him back into the organization at Kline’s expense.

    A career .214/.256/.400 hitter who has shown plenty of pop from the right side of the dish, Valaika has experience at each of second base, shortstop and third base. However, he’s also punched out in nearly 29 percent of his trips to the plate in the big leagues, which has contributed significantly to his inability to reach base at a passable rate. Valaika does have a minor league option remaining and a career .275/.315/.498 slash 695 Triple-A plate appearances, making him a reasonable depth option for the rebuilding Orioles to carry on the roster even if he doesn’t break camp with the club this spring.

    The 28-year-old Kline made his MLB debut in 2019 but was hit hard, logging a 5.93 ERA and a 34-to-19 K/BB ratio in 41 innings of relief. He averaged a hearty 96.3 mph on his four-seamer in that time but generated below-average spin and yielded hard contact at far too great a clip (49.2 percent, per Statcast). Kline has had some success up through the Double-A level but has yet to post strong numbers in limited time with Triple-A Norfolk or in the Majors.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Still Looking For Starters]]> 2020-01-29T04:40:50Z 2020-01-29T04:23:54Z
  • The Orioles made a small move to address their weak rotation when they signed southpaw Wade LeBlanc to a minors pact on Tuesday. The agreement came after the 35-year-old LeBlanc, who spent most of last season as a reliever in Seattle, turned down other teams’ offers in hopes of earning a spot in the Orioles’ rotation, per Joe Trezza of While LeBlanc could indeed take on a role as one of the O’s starters in 2020, they’re not done shopping for help in that area, according to Roch Kubatko of Notably, Baltimore was connected to one of its former SPs, righty Andrew Cashner, this past weekend.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles To Sign Wade LeBlanc]]> 2020-01-29T01:38:52Z 2020-01-29T01:22:43Z The Orioles have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc, tweets ESPN’s Jeff Passan. He’ll be in Major League camp during Spring Training and would stand to earn an $800K base salary upon cracking the MLB roster.

    Baltimore represents a prime location for a 35-year-old veteran on this type of contract to make a legitimate bid for a roster spot. The Orioles have already traded away Dylan Bundy this winter, leaving their rotation with a composition of John Means, Alex Cobb (health permitting) and journeyman Asher Wojciechowski. The Orioles’ only other rotation moves this winter have been to sign former Twins prospect Kohl Stewart to a big league deal and to select righty Brandon Bailey from GM Mike Elias’ former Astros organization in the Rule 5 Draft. Other internal candidates for starting gigs include right-hander David Hess, who struggled substantially in 2019, and left-hander Keegan Akin, who has yet to make his MLB debut.

    It’s the sort of woeful rotation mix one would expect from an organization that is more intent on securing the first overall pick in the 2021 draft than on winning games in the upcoming season. And while that may not be good news for O’s fans, it does provide an avenue for a veteran like LeBlanc to seek out a bounceback opportunity.

    LeBlanc was harmed as much as any starter in the game with last year’s juiced ball, as he yielded a staggering 2.1 homers per nine innings pitched and saw his ERA balloon by nearly two full runs over its 2018 levels (5.71 in ’19 versus 3.72 in ’18). In spite of the poor bottom-line run prevention (or lack thereof), the veteran southpaw still maintained similar K/BB tendencies to the ones he showed in a solid three-year stretch that preceded the 2019 season.

    From 2016-18, LeBlanc tossed 292 innings (35 starts, 66 relief appearances) and pitched to a 3.91 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 1.4 HR/9 between the Mariners and the Pirates. His soft-tossing arsenal will face a tough task in the American League East if he does land on the big league roster, as he’ll be moving from the spacious T-Mobile Park and a division that generally skews a bit more toward the pitcher-friendly side of things to the cozier Camden Yards and hitter-friendly AL East. The lack of competition for a starting spot in Baltimore, though, should give LeBlanc a legitimate chance to land a roster spot this spring.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Have Interest In Andrew Cashner]]> 2020-01-26T14:58:42Z 2020-01-26T14:58:42Z With the Orioles looking to add an inexpensive veteran arm to their rotation, Andrew Cashner is “one of the free agents under consideration,”’s Roch Kubatko writes.  GM Mike Elias said on Saturday that the O’s would be more likely to acquire a Major League starter through free agency than through the trade market, and Kubatko recently reported that the Orioles were looking at adding a starter on a one-year contract.

    There is no shortage of familiarity between Cashner and the O’s, as the right-hander pitched for the team in both 2018 and 2019 before being traded to the Red Sox last July.  Cashner originally signed a two-year, $16MM deal in the 2017-18 offseason and posted a 4.73 ERA, 1.76 K/BB rate, 6.0 K/9 over his 249 1/3 innings in the orange-and-black.  Those numbers line up with Cashner’s overall inconsistent performance over the last five seasons, as his low-strikeout, grounder-heavy (except in his aberration of a 2018 season that saw him post a career-worst 40.4% ground ball rate) arsenal leads to a lot of variance.

    Cashner was pitching pretty well for Baltimore in 2019, however, posting a 3.83 ERA over 96 1/3 innings after largely removing his sinker from his mix of pitches.  After being dealt to Boston, however, Cashner posted an 8.01 ERA over six starts before being moved to the bullpen for his first extended dose of relief work since 2012.  Between the start of the 2013 season and the end of that six-start stint for the Red Sox, Cashner started 182 of 188 games pitched.

    As expected, the Red Sox declined their $10MM club option on Cashner for the 2020 season, and the righty’s trip into free agency hasn’t resulted in much buzz.  It could be that any interested teams are perhaps waiting until later in the offseason or during Spring Training to fully access their rotation options before signing a pitcher that projects best as a depth option at this point in his career.

    The 33-year-old Cashner does offer a fair amount of durability at the back of a rotation, as he has averaged 157 IP over the last five seasons.  There isn’t much certainty within a projected Orioles rotation that consists of John Means, Alex Cobb, Asher Wojciechowski, and several younger options vying for the final two slots, so bringing a veteran innings-eater like Cashner could help matters.  There’s also a chance that returning to Camden Yards could help Cashner regain his form from early 2019, and perhaps make him a candidate for another deadline trade this summer.