Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-06-20T21:40:52Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Designate Dan Straily, Place John Means On IL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163452 2019-06-20T21:32:38Z 2019-06-20T20:12:24Z The Orioles have designated right-hander Dan Straily for assignment, as per a team announcement.  The move is one of a series of transactions for the O’s, as the club also placed southpaw John Means on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to June 17) with a left shoulder strain, reinstated Dwight Smith Jr. from the 10-day IL and recalled righty Evan Phillips from Triple-A.

Today’s news ends Straily’s brief time in Baltimore after 47 2/3 innings and a disappointing 9.82 ERA.  After the Marlins surprisingly released Straily near the end of Spring Training, the O’s inked the righty to a $575K one-year deal to fill a hole in their shaky rotation.  Unfortunately, Straily simply never got on track either as a starter or as a reliever, as his career-long flyball tendencies bit him especially hard at Camden Yards.  Straily has already allowed a whopping 22 homers during his brief time on the mound this season — for perspective’s sake, Dylan Bundy allowed a league-high 41 homers in 2018, though that was over 171 2/3 innings.

There was enough interest in Straily after his release from Miami that you would figure he’d get some looks now that he is on the market again, as the veteran posted decent numbers for the Reds and Marlins from 2016-18.  Another Major League contract doesn’t seem as likely, however, as Straily seems like a candidate for a minor league deal with a team that will try to iron out his flyball problems down on the farm.

In terms of pure results, Means has been the lone bright spot on the Orioles’ struggling rotation this year, with a 2.67 ERA, 2.81 K/BB rate, and 7.5 K/9 over 70 2/3 innings.  ERA indicators (4.08 FIP, 5.07 xFIP, 4.67 SIERA) hint at some serious regression, though Means hasn’t allowed much in the way of hard contract, with only a .309 xwOBA and .299 wOBA.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Dan Straily's Roster Spot May Be In Jeopardy ]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163398 2019-06-20T14:48:45Z 2019-06-20T14:47:06Z
  • Orioles righty Dan Straily’s place on the team’s roster may be in jeopardy, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com suggests. The low-risk flier the club took on Straily on April 5, a little over a week after the Marlins released him, hasn’t worked out to this point. Straily, 30, was coming off a multiyear run as a useful starter when he joined Baltimore, yet he has worked to a hideous 9.82 ERA/9.30 FIP in 47 2/3 innings since then. While Straily began 2019 as a starter, his struggles convinced the O’s to demote him to their bullpen nearly a month ago. Straily has fared even worse in that role.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Designate Joey Rickard, Select Sean Gilmartin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163059 2019-06-17T21:09:13Z 2019-06-17T20:43:40Z The Orioles announced today that they have designated outfielder Joey Rickard for assignment. That creates a roster opening for the team to select the contract of lefty Sean Gilmartin.

    Both of these players are former Rule 5 picks who managed to stick it out in the majors with their new teams. In each case, the initial hope faded over the long term.

    Rickard, 28, has slashed just .203/.304/.347 in his 135 plate appearances on the season and hasn’t fared much better over the scope of his MLB career. As for Gilmartin, he has bounced around and failed to find steady work in the majors since a strong rookie year. He has pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 9.9 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 36 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2019.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Adam Jones Opens Up About Invoking 10-And-5 Rights]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162804 2019-06-15T17:07:57Z 2019-06-15T17:07:57Z To the casual baseball fan, 10-and-5 Rights are little more than an annoyance that get in the way of otherwise stimulating trade content in July, but for players, this rarely-achieved benchmark represents a kind of hallowed ground. Ten years of MLB service time and five with the same organization provide players a full no-trade clause, a distinction that Adam Jones celebrated in Baltimore with a party thrown for him by his wife, writes The Athletic’s Brittany Ghiroli. After interviewing Jones about the process that brought him to Arizona, Ghiroli walks us through Jones’ mindset as he maneuvered a uniquely tumultuous calendar year for the Orioles’ long-time star.

    Jones invoked his veto power to block a trade to Philadelphia last season, choosing stability and comfort in playing out his final contact in Baltimore where he played 11 seasons and accrued 31.6 rWAR. When a player like Jones rejects the opportunity to join a contender, many are quick to denounce the move as meddlesome, obstinance, or a signal of waning competitive drive. But players around the league supported Jones with texts of both congratulations and thanks. At season’s end, of course, Mike Elias took over the show in Baltimore and Jones heard nothing but crickets from Baltimore’s front office and ownership.

    Jones’ saga is typical of the struggle facing veteran players these days (and Ghiroli’s piece is well worth a read). After being in-part vilified for invoking his well-earned right to stay in Baltimore, he received no interest as a free agent. Yet not even half a season later (now that he no longer controls his destiny), Jones could once again be in high-demand. This after receiving no interest as a free agent until a Steven Souza Jr. injury opened up playing time in right field for the Diamondbacks. His humbling offseason led to a resurgent season thus far for Jones, who brings a .279/.326/.488 line into play against the Nationals today.

    At 33-years-old, Jones has the reputation of a player in decline largely because of a too-long stay in centerfield, but offensively he has remained much the same player he was in his prime. For his career, Jones carries a .278/.318/.458 line with 278 career home runs. He is not a superstar, but perhaps the poster boy for baseball’s undervalued middle class. Come the postseason, non-elites like Cody Ross, David Freese and Steve Pearce have often made the difference for championship clubs, and yet front offices around the league overlooked players like Jones and Hunter Pence – veteran clubhouse leaders whose on-field contributions in 2019 have so far outpaced the projections of their decline.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Orioles' International Signings]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162561 2019-06-14T01:48:57Z 2019-06-14T01:47:45Z
  • The Blue Jays signed Cuban right-hander Yosver Zulueta and Dutch right-handers Jiorgeny Casimiri and Sem Robberse in some late additions before the end of the 2018-19 international signing period, Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi writes.  Toronto acquired an extra $1.5MM of bonus pool funds in spring trades of Kendrys Morales to the A’s and Dwight Smith Jr. to the Orioles, which accounted for these three Jays signing (Zulueta received “the majority of their spending room,” as per Davidi).
  • The Orioles signed Dominican center fielder Stiven Acevedo to a contract with a $275K bonus in April, Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun writes.  Acevedo’s birthday (August 2, 2002) made him a bit of an odd man out for the first batch of signings last July 2, as other teams committed most of their pools to players who were already 16 years old.  This left him available for Baltimore, who felt like Acevedo would have received a bonus of $1MM+ had he waited for the next international signing period this coming July 2.  Acevedo is already 6’4″ and 185 pounds despite his young age, “with feel for the barrel, not much swing-and-miss and the chance to grow into some power,” according to Meoli.  The piece is well worth a read for a full overview of the Orioles’ 2018-19 international signing endeavors, as the team has finally started to focus on the int’l market under new GM Mike Elias (and in the final weeks of former front office boss Dan Duquette’s tenure) and the O’s now seem positioned to be major players in the 2019-20 signing period.  In total, the O’s spent $2.167MM since last July 2, despite a signing pool that both rose and shrunk rapidly after multiple trades and pursuits of such high-profile prospects as the Mesa brothers.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mark Trumbo Has Setback In Rehab Process]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162554 2019-06-13T23:53:44Z 2019-06-13T23:53:44Z Mark Trumbo has been shut down for the next seven-to-ten days after receiving a PRP injection in his right knee, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde told reporters (including Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).  Trumbo has yet to play this season after undergoing knee surgery last September, and between his 60-day injury list placement and maximum injury rehab period, Trumbo was on pace to return to the roster this weekend.

    Instead, however, the veteran slugger will continue to rest his knee, and “there’s not a real timetable” on when Trumbo could make his 2019 debut, according to Hyde.  “It was progressing well and is progressing well. He just felt some soreness yesterday, but he was running better and he was playing in the field and swinging the bat pretty well. Just felt some soreness yesterday, so we got him an injection and he’s going to be out a little while longer,” the manager said.

    After a rough 2017 season, Trumbo provided above-average (107 wRC+, 108 OPS+) production in hitting .261/.313/.452 with 17 homers over 358 plate appearances for the Orioles in 2018.  A quicker return from knee surgery and a repeat of that performance could have created a slim chance that the Orioles would’ve been able to move Trumbo at the trade deadline and get a little of his $13.5MM salary for 2019 off the books.  Now, however, it doesn’t seem too likely that Trumbo will be back in Baltimore’s lineup before July, giving him little time to audition both his bat and his health for any interested teams.

    When Trumbo is able to play, it’s also unclear as to how much time he’ll see in the lineup.  The Orioles already have Chris Davis obligated to receive some first base/DH at-bats, and the rebuilding team would obviously prefer to give Trey Mancini, Dwight Smith Jr., and Renato Nunez continued playing time in the corner outfield and DH spots, respectively.  With Trumbo set for free agency this winter, he isn’t a part of the Orioles’ long-term plans.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[O’s GM Elias Discusses Trade Availability Of Trey Mancini]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162263 2019-06-12T01:41:03Z 2019-06-12T01:41:03Z Orioles GM Mike Elias addressed the media today regarding an unfortunate development for the team’s pitching staff. The conversation also drifted into the upcoming trade deadline — Elias’s first at the helm of the Baltimore baseball operations department.

    In particular, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com covers, the rookie GM discussed the potentially tricky issue of how to handle young outfielder Trey Mancini. The 27-year-old has been the club’s most productive player this year, as Elias readily volunteered. Mancini is controllable through 2022 and will reach arbitration for the first time this fall.

    Elias looked to walk a line in his comments, inviting offers while also making clear that he’s not going to just take whatever he can get for the team’s best trade chip. “We’re not looking to part with Trey,” said Elias. “That said, as I’ve said all along, we’re open to anything.”

    Elias called Mancini “an integral part of this team.” He also left rather a wide door in discussing what it would take to make a deal. Rather than suggesting that the club would need to be overwhelmed or specifying the type of return he’d want, Elias said a trade would at least be possible if his front office “feel[s] that what we’re getting back is better for the organization than what we’re giving up.”

    The rebuilding O’s are focused on the future, giving them ample reason to consider deals while Mancini is in good form. (After all, he wasn’t in 2018.) But it’s not the only option by any stretch. There is still some time left to enjoy Mancini. It never hurts to have at least one popular, homegrown star to please the fans that show up and help bridge to a new period of competitiveness.

    If that’s the path that Elias takes, then it certainly would make sense for the club to check in on the possibility of an extension. It doesn’t sound as if talks have occurred to this point, but Elias said that it’s “certainly a thought that’s crossed my mind.” Labeling Mancini a player the team would like to keep “around for the long haul,” the new chief baseball decisionmaker certainly opened the door to that possibility without setting any expectations. Mid-season deals for younger players are rather rare, but some chatter over the winter or next spring would hardly be surprising — if Mancini remains in Baltimore.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Alex Cobb To Undergo Season-Ending Hip Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162198 2019-06-11T21:10:53Z 2019-06-11T21:10:38Z Orioles right-hander Alex Cobb will miss the remainder of the 2019 season due to season-ending hip surgery, general manager Mike Elias announced to reporters Tuesday (Twitter links via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com). The operation will fix an impingement in his right hip, and Kubatko adds that Cobb might also undergo a procedure on his knee.

    Cobb, 31, is in the second season of a four-year, $57MM contract that has blown up in Baltimore’s face to this point. The longtime Rays right-hander got out to a poor start in 2018 but at least gave the club some cause for optimism when he posted a 2.59 ERA and 42-to-18 K/BB ratio in 66 innings down the stretch. That solid stretch of games was only enough to push his overall ERA to 4.90, though, and he was limited to 12 1/3 innings due to a lumbar strain in 2019 prior to today’s announcement.

    In all, Cobb has given the Orioles 164 2/3 innings of 5.34 ERA ball over the course of 31 starts since signing his deal. A decent showing in the first half of the year might’ve been enough to allow the Orioles to shed a portion of his contract’s remainder, but that now looks all but impossible. The O’s will have to hope that Cobb can return to health in 2020, if for no other reason than to help soak up innings for a club that is quite thin in terms up upper-level pitching depth in the minors.

    Cobb is still set to be paid $14MM in 2020 and $15MM in 2021, but a portion of those salaries are deferred and will be paid out in annual increments from 2023-32.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Acquire Tom Eshelman From Phillies]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162033 2019-06-10T15:01:47Z 2019-06-10T14:47:11Z The Orioles have acquired right-hander Tom Eshelman from the Phillies in exchange for international bonus allocations, per announcements from both clubs. Eshelman has been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk for the time being.

    Eshelman, 24, was a second-round pick by the Astros back in 2015 (when Baltimore GM Mike Elias was with Houston) and landed with the Phillies by way of the Ken Giles trade in the 2016-17 offseason. Eshelman opened the season in Double-A Reading and struggled to a 6.28 ERA in 28 2/3 innings, but he did so with strong K/BB numbers that led metrics like FIP (3.79) and xFIP (2.98) to forecast better days on the horizon. The Phillies bumped him up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, and Eshelman responded well. In four starts there (26 innings), he’s notched a 2.77 ERA with a 23-to-5 K/BB ratio and a 48.6 percent ground-ball rate.

    While Eshelman is Norfolk-bound for the time being, it’s not difficult to see him emerging as an option at the Major League level in the near future. Between the 2017-19 seasons, he’s made a total of 48 starts at the Triple-A level, so he has plenty of upper-minors experience. And the Orioles’ rotation has performed dreadfully as a collective unit, posting a 5.42 ERA that ranks 26th in the Majors as well as an MLB-worst 5.87 FIP.

    Manager Brandon Hyde said about three weeks ago that the front office had been exploring various avenues to add some rotation depth to the organization, and acquiring Eshelman certainly fits that mold. He wasn’t considered to be among the top prospects in the Phillies’ system but gives the Orioles the type of fairly advanced arm that they’re lacking in the upper levels of a farm system that’s still being rebuilt (and will be for the next few years).

    Currently, the Orioles are deploying Andrew Cashner, Dylan Bundy, John Means, David Hess and Gabriel Ynoa, but the latter two of that quintet have struggled in particular. Veteran righty Alex Cobb remains sidelined by a back injury, while Nate Karns is on the shelf indefinitely due to a flexor strain. The alternatives in Triple-A are collectively underperforming, as each of Josh Rogers, Luis Ortiz and Chandler Shepherd has an ERA over 7.00.

    As for the Phillies, they’ll add a bit of money — no amount was specified — to add a few more international players to their minor league ranks in the coming days. The 2018-19 international signing period comes to a close on June 15, but this swap should give them more funds to add a bit more talent to the lower levels of the system. International signing slots need to be traded in $250K increments, so the Phils picked up at least that much in this deal — and quite possibly more, given Eshelman’s proximity to the Majors.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Evan Phillips Recalled From Triple-A]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161804 2019-06-08T16:51:29Z 2019-06-08T16:51:29Z
  • The Orioles recalled Evan Phillips from Triple-A after optioning Branden Kline yesterday as they continue to seek personnel to get outs out of their bullpen, per MLB.com’s Joe Trezza (via Twitter). Phillips has struggled to find a foothold in the big leagues with a 9.85 ERA across 21 appearances, including a 6.92 ERA in 12 appearances for Baltimore this season. He came to Baltimore from Atlanta as part of the Kevin Gausman deal at last year’s deadline. Kline, for his part, heads to Triple-A with a 5.89 ERA in 15 appearances, though he has been particularly ineffective of late. He was tagged with an earned run in each of his last five appearances, taking two losses in that span. Of the ten pitchers who have pitched out of the Oriole bullpen and made at least 10 appearances on the season, only Gabriel Ynoa (4.96 ERA, 4.92 FIP), Paul Fry (3.51 ERA, 4.67 FIP), and Shawn Armstrong (1.93 ERA, 4.57 FIP) can boast an ERA under 5.00. Although, amongst those in that same group, Phillips actually holds the lowest FIP on the season at 3.76, helped by 11.8 K/9.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Orioles Likely To Place Dwight Smith Jr. On Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161590 2019-06-07T17:37:28Z 2019-06-07T17:37:34Z TODAY: Smith is indeed going on the seven-day concussion IL, the club announced. Outfielder Anthony Santander takes his spot on the active roster.

    YESTERDAY: The Orioles expect to place outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. on the injured list, manager Brandon Hyde told reporters after Thursday’s loss to the Rangers (via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com and Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com). Smith crashed into the left field wall in the fourth inning, eventually forcing him to exit the game.

    “He’s going to be out for a while,” Hyde said. “He’s going through concussion protocol, they’re going to X-ray his shoulder up here that he banged in the wall and he’s holding his jaw. It was like a car wreck.

    The 26-year-old Smith has been one of last-place Baltimore’s best offensive players this season, which admittedly isn’t saying much. Still, Smith has perhaps given the Orioles better offensive production than they could have hoped for when they acquired him from the division-rival Blue Jays in early March.

    In his first extensive look in the majors, Smith has hit .249/.296/.462 (98 wRC+) with 11 home runs, a .213 ISO and four steals on five attempts across 243 plate appearances. Smith has not complemented his respectable offensive output with quality defense, however, as evidenced by his minus-5 Defensive Runs Saved, minus-3.3 Ultimate Zone Rating and minus-6 Outs Above Average.

    The Orioles replaced Smith on Thursday with Stevie Wilkerson, who could take over as their main left fielder if the former does go on the IL. Should Smith miss time, Baltimore would likely summon an outfielder from the minor leagues to take his roster spot. The team’s 40-man outfielders in the minors include Joey Rickard, Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and one of its top prospects, Austin Hays.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles GM Elias Discusses The Rutschmann Pick]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161315 2019-06-06T16:26:00Z 2019-06-06T03:54:50Z
  • Reports from the night prior to the draft suggested that the Orioles were still considering multiple options as the first overall pick, and GM Mike Elias indeed told reporters (including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza) that “the first four picks were all under significant discussion from us at one point or another.”  Rather than take Bobby Witt Jr., Andrew Vaughn, or JJ Bleday, the O’s instead stuck to expectations and chose top-rated prospect Adley Rutschman.  “There are pros and cons with every player profile and every player. We like to work our way through all of that and ultimately decided for the long-range benefit of the organization that this was the right pick,” Elias said.  It’s hard to argue with the choice, given that Rutschman was widely seen as the top talent available in this year’s class (and perhaps in many years).  Elias praised his new player as “a team leader on and off the field” and “a future fixture for this organization.”
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles Select Adley Rutschman First Overall]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=160962 2019-06-03T23:27:12Z 2019-06-03T23:13:39Z The Orioles have a new front office and new dugout leadership. And now, the club has a new top prospect after officially selecting star Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman with the first overall pick of the 2019 Rule 4 amateur draft.

    Though the Baltimore organization kept things quiet in the build-up to the draft, it would have rated as a major surprise had the club gone in a different direction. Rutschman checks all the boxes you want to see in a 1-1 draft selection.

    Rutschman is widely considered the best overall prospect available this year. He’s a highly accomplished collegiate catcher who helped his team to a national championship last year. (Indeed, he was named the most outstanding player of the College World Series.)

    Scouting reports on Rutschman, an Oregon native, read like a creat-a-player dream list from a video game. He’s a switch hitter who has walked more often than striking out in college even while delivering outstanding power. Scouts also grade him as a top-tier defensive performer behind the dish.

    It’s a momentous decision for an Orioles club that has fallen on hard times after a questionable call to attempt to contend in 2018. The team’s new front office will look to assemble as much talent as possible and ramp up toward a return to glory, with Rutschman’s timeline likely to be a key factor.

    The first overall pick comes with a $8.42MM bonus allocation. The O’s have the second-highest overall pool allocation. While the Diamondbacks won’t choose until the 16th overall pick, they added a pair of compensation picks that significantly boosted their overall availability.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Promote Chance Sisco]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=160921 2019-06-03T17:02:05Z 2019-06-03T17:02:05Z The Orioles announced that they’ve promoted catcher Chance Sisco from Triple-A Norfolk. He’ll join the club for the team’s upcoming series against the Rangers and will presumably have the opportunity to prove himself as a viable everyday option for the club moving forward.

    Sisco, 24, was widely regarded as one of the game’s top 100 prospects in 2017-18 and looked impressive in a late-season cup of coffee with the O’s in 2017. He wasn’t able to seize the team’s starting role in 2018, however, as he struggled to a dismal .181/.288/.269 slash through 63 games and 184 plate appearances. It’s not uncommon for a young player to flounder through his first extended look at the big league level though, and catchers in particular are often a bit slower to develop offensively.

    Sisco opened the season in Triple-A to continue rounding out his game and hit his way back to the Majors with a .289/.383/.530 showing in 193 plate appearances. He’s homered 10 times, hit 10 doubles and collected 19 walks (9.8 percent) against 43 strikeouts (23.3 percent) on the season so far. He’s been average or a tick below in terms of framing over the past couple of seasons and has struggled to control the running game (6-for-33 in 2019), but Sisco’s bat merits another audition at the MLB level as the rebuilding Orioles continue to assess his long-term role in the organization.

    With Baltimore, Sisco will team with Pedro Severino to handle the catching duties. His left-handed bat and Severino’s right-handed bat make for a natural platoon if the O’s wish to divide playing time in that manner, and it’d be hard to completely scale back Severino’s at-bats based on how well he’s played. The 25-year-old has proven to be a waiver steal out of the Nationals organization, hitting .273/.360/.475 with five long balls and five doubles in 115 plate appearance and throwing out nine of 15 potential basestealers. He’s allowed five passed balls and posted slightly below-average framing marks, which hurts his all-around value, but the O’s have to nonetheless be thrilled with the results of that particular claim.

    Beyond Severino, the Orioles have relied on the light-hitting duo of Jesus Sucre and Austin Wynns behind the dish. Wynns was optioned to Norfolk yesterday, while Sucre was removed from the 40-man roster earlier in the season but accepted an outright assignment to Norfolk. That pairing will now handle regular catching duty in Triple-A and serve as depth.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Orioles Considering Several Players For First Overall Pick]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=160870 2019-06-03T01:41:55Z 2019-06-03T01:41:55Z With less than a day to go before the 2019 amateur draft, the Orioles seem to still be exploring their options with the first overall pick.  Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman has long been considered the top talent in this year’s draft class by scouts and pundits, though according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the Orioles are also looking at Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn and Vanderbilt outfielder J.J. Bleday as “the top two alternatives” if Rutschman doesn’t end up being the pick (plus, high schooler Bobby Witt Jr. also might be a possibility).

    Two scouts on rival teams have told Mayo that the Orioles won’t select Rutschman, though Mayo notes, this could also be some of the gamesmanship every team deploys to create uncertainty about their selections.  Still, Baltimore’s front office hasn’t given any indication about their plans in Mike Elias’ first draft as the team’s GM, and the linking of Rutschman to the O’s was more based on Rutschman’s high profile than it was on any reports coming out of Camden Yards.

    A wealth of factors go into any draft pick, of course, especially one as important and potentially franchise-altering as a 1-1 selection.  It’s worth remember that Elias was the Astros’ director of amateur scouting when the team made the then-surprising move to select Carlos Correa with the first overall pick of the 2012 draft.  Mark Appel was widely tabbed as the top prospect of the 2012 class, though since Correa was willing to sign for a lesser bonus than the recommended slot price attached to the first overall pick, Correa ended up being the choice, giving the Astros more space in their draft pool to sign Lance McCullers Jr. for a larger bonus in the supplemental first round (41st overall).

    We haven’t heard much about what Rutschman or some of this year’s top prospects are seeking in their first contracts, though if Vaughn or Bleday are willing to sign for less than the first overall pick’s recommended $8,415,300 slot price, that certainly be a point in their favor should Elias again look to spread his bonus pool money around on several top prospects.

    Beyond just finances, of course, the O’s could also simply prefer Vaughn, Bleday, Witt, or another player to Rutschman for pure baseball reasons.  The Astros received some criticism for being cheap when they took Correa over Appel, though time has clearly vindicated Houston’s strategy in that draft.

    If Rutschman isn’t the top pick, it could greatly shake up the remainder of the first round.  As a matter of due diligence, teams scout virtually all of the top prospects to prepare for just such an unexpected scenario, plus other teams could also be preparing to make outside-the-box situations.  Callis and Mayo cite a number of interesting prospects within their piece, including an item on how high school third baseman Brett Baty’s stock could be on the rise, potentially to the Rangers (who have the #8 pick) or even the White Sox with the third overall choice.  Vaughn, Baty, Bleday, and high schooler CJ Abrams have all been mentioned as being on Chicago’s radar, though these plans could again change should Rutschman or Witt be available when the White Sox are on the clock.

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