- The Orioles have named Rockies assistant Anthony Sanders their first base coach, Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets. Jon Morosi of MLB.com first reported the O’s would hire him for that role. Sanders is a former professional outfielder who spent 14 years coaching with the Rockies. He’ll take over for Arnie Beyeler in Baltimore.
- The Orioles are close to hiring Rockies assistant Anthony Sanders as their first base coach, Jon Morosi of MLB.com tweets. Sanders is a former major league outfielder who managed at the rookie level with the Rockies, though he was most recently their outfield and base-running coordinator. Assuming Sanders takes over as the O’s first base coach, he’ll succeed Arnie Beyeler.
- The Orioles have hired Eve Rosenbaum to fill a new role with the organization – director of baseball development – Dan Connolly of The Athletic reports (subscription link). Rosenbaum, a Harvard graduate and Maryland native who spent the past five seasons with the Astros and was at the helm of their international signing period this year, is familiar with Orioles general manager Mike Elias from their time working together in Houston’s front office. Now reunited with Elias, Rosenbaum will largely focus on analytics and scouting in Baltimore, Connolly relays.
We’re going to see a whole lot of players added to 40-man rosters in advance of tonight’s deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft. We will use this post to track those contract selections from American League teams that are not otherwise covered on the site.
- The Athletics made just one addition to the 40-man roster, righty Daulton Jefferies, which resulted in the DFA of righty Jharel Cotton (more on that move here).
- The Rangers will add at least four players to their 40-man, per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter). Infielder Sherten Apostel, outfielder Leody Taveras, and hurlers Demarcus Evans and Tyler Phillips are all reportedly set to get a slot. Taveras is the most exciting name of this bunch; by the reckoning of some observers, he’s one of the club’s best prospects. Apostel came over in the Keone Kela trade. The two pitchers are upper-minors arms who could contribute in 2020.
- There’s 40-man movement elsewhere in Texas as well. Chandler Rome of the Houston Chronicle tweets that the Astros have tacked on four players: Taylor Jones, Cristian Javier, Enoli Paredes, and Nivaldo Rodriguez. The last of those is the one that came from the farthest reaches of the prospect map (half a season of High-A ball); clearly, the ’Stros see him as an up-and-comer and were worried other teams would as well. Jones had a strong season at Triple-A and could fight for a bench spot. Javier and Paredes could be in the MLB bullpen mix after running up the farm ladder with high strikeout rates in 2019.
- The Angels have selected second baseman/outfielder Jahmai Jones and lefty Hector Yan, according to the club. Both players (Jones – No. 6; Yan – No. 17) rank among the Angels’ top 20 prospects at MLB.com. The 22-year-old Jones is a 2015 second-rounder who spent the past two seasons at the Double-A level, where he hit .234/.308/.324 in 544 plate appearances in 2019. Yan, a 20-year-old native of the Dominican Republic, rose to Single-A ball this past season and notched a 3.39 ERA/3.17 FIP with a whopping 12.22 K/9 against 4.29 BB/9 over 109 innings.
- The Twins have selected the contracts of righties Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers, outfielders Gilberto Celestino and Luke Raley, and infielder/outfielder Travis Blankenhorn, Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com tweets. Three of those players – Duran (No. 9), Celestino (No. 20) and Blankenhorn (No. 23) – rank among the Twins’ top 25 prospects at MLB.com.
- Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that the Tigers have selected the contracts of infielder Isaac Paredes; outfielders Daz Cameron and Derek Hill; and right-handers Beau Burrows, Kyle Funkhouser and Anthony Castro. Each of Paredes, Cameron, Burrows, Funkhouser and Castro are ranked inside the organization’s Top 20 prospects at MLB.com, while Hill checks in at 28th. Cameron, Hill, Burrows and Funkhouser were all top 50 picks in the MLB Draft at one point.
- Kansas City’s slate of additions was accompanied by four DFAs, as detailed here. The Royals added lefty Foster Griffin, right-hander Carlos Hernandez, shortstop Jeison Guzman and outfielder Nick Heath to the 40-man roster this afternoon.
- Seven players were added to the White Sox’ 40-man roster today, per a club announcement: catcher Yermin Mercedes, outfielder Blake Rutherford, left-hander Bernardo Flores Jr. and right-handers Zack Burdi, Dane Dunning, Matt Foster and Jimmy Lambert. Burdi and Dunning, in particular, are well-regarded pitching prospects on the mend from Tommy John surgery. Rutherford, a former first-round pick, was a key trade acquisition who was protected despite a lackluster season in Double-A and in the Arizona Fall League.
- Infielder Santiago Espinal and righty Thomas Hatch were the Blue Jays’ pair of roster additions on Wednesday. Toronto jettisoned Tim Mayza and Justin Shafer from the 40-man roster in a pair of corresponding moves, as explored at greater length here.
- The Orioles announced that they’ve selected the contracts of left-hander Keegan Akin, right-hander Dean Kremer, infielder/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle and outfielder Ryan McKenna. Mountcastle, a former first-rounder, has long been considered among the organization’s most promising minor leaguers. Akin posted a down year in Triple-A in 2019 but has generally been successful and is viewed as a near-MLB ready arm.
- The Red Sox have added infielders C.J. Chatham and Bobby Dalbec, outfielder Marcus Wilson, and lefties Kyle Hart and Yoan Aybar to their 40-man, the team announced.The most hyped farmhand there is Dalbec, whom MLB.com ranks as the Red Sox’s second-best prospect. The 24-year-old reached the Triple-A level for the first time in 2019 after obliterating Double-A pitching, and he posted a .257/.301/.478 line with seven home runs and 29 strikeouts against just five walks over 123 trips to the plate.
The Orioles have lost another legal ruling in the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network saga that never ends. As conveyed through an AP report, the New York trial court has reaffirmed its major recent decision upholding an arbitration award in favor of the Nationals, who have sought for years to force the O’s-controlled MASN to pay more for their television rights fees. It’s time for the Baltimore club to pony up some long-awaited payments to its southern neighbor, the court ruled, with interest now running on the balance due. This doesn’t end the matter — the O’s can still pursue recalculation of the profit tabulations, appeal these trial court rulings, and/or fight the next market re-set period — but it does mark another step towards final resolution.
More from Baltimore:
- Orioles GM Mike Elias chatted with Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun about his first year in charge of the organization’s baseball operations. Elias conveyed broad optimism about where things are headed, while taking every opportunity to caution fans not to expect too much too soon. Process is the name of the game here. “I think the most important thing of this year has been the capabilities of the [baseball operations] department,” he says, though he also noted some player-development strides in the minors and even at the MLB level. Elias warned: “We’re still going to be in a process where it’s possible that we take a step back to take two steps forward at the major league level.” Even once some strides are evident, he noted, “these types of rebuilds don’t always progress linearly.”
- Trades of veteran players are a potential part of the O’s strategy, of course, which Elias acknowledged. So what of righty Dylan Bundy? Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com looks at that possibility. While the accounting of Bundy’s trade candidacy doesn’t reveal an especially enticing profile, it does highlight an important point about the former first-round pick: despite some ups and downs in the performance department, particularly in terms of controlling the long ball, Bundy has thrown a good number of solid-enough innings over the past few seasons. Teams routinely pay good money in free agency hoping for the sort of 2-2.5 WAR season Bundy just turned in. He’s projected to earn a palatable $5.7MM with one more season of control remaining thereafter. Bundy posted a career-high 12.9% swinging-strike rate last year and only just turned 27, so perhaps there’s still hope there’s more in the tank.
With today marking exactly one year since the Orioles tabbed Mike Elias to succeed Dan Duquette as the franchise’s general manager, now seems like a natural time to check in on Elias’s tenure and evaluate the changes he has implemented thus far. Preaching a transformation of Baltimore’s scouting, player development, and analytics departments, it hasn’t taken long for Elias to get his fingerprints all over the internal structure of the Orioles. While the on-field product didn’t show much improvement from 2018 to 2019, sweeping changes have been made to the organization’s infrastructure in Elias’s first year running the show, which has by and large been spent “getting up to speed on all of the basics.” Joe Trezza of MLB.com has a comprehensive roundup of all the turnover, with analytics and international scouting representing two of the organization’s fastest-growing departments. This implementation of Elias’s philosophy marks a foundational step in the Orioles’ complete rebuild, which remains in its early stages. Ultimately, though, Elias’s success will be judged according to success on the diamond, meaning that he and his staff will need to demonstrate that they can acquire and develop the requisite talent to climb baseball’s ranks—no small task after consecutive 100-loss seasons.
- With last week’s GM meetings coming to a close, Elias spoke to MASN’s Roch Kubatko about just what happened during his stay in Arizona, as well as how he and his staff will navigate the offseason on the heels of a 54-108 season. Elias names middle infield, pitching, as well as depth at catcher and in the outfield as particular areas of focus in free agency and trades. Of course, one look at the O’s win-loss record suggests that those aren’t the only needs, and Elias’s Orioles are poised to take an active role in trade discussions as the team looks to bring aboard young talent all over the diamond. As Elias says, his team boasts a host of players that has steadily attracted interest since his arrival, though the team will be diligent in choosing when to move those players, if at all.
- In another change ahead of the 2020 season, the Orioles are opting for earlier start times to weekday night games before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, writes The Athletic’s Dan Connolly, moving first pitch up a half-hour earlier than past seasons. The scheduling alteration is motivated by the team’s desire to attract families and kids to games during the school year. As one can imagine, attendance has suffered as a result of the Orioles’ on-field struggles over the last two seasons, and the organization is looking for ways to remedy that. Connolly notes that the crosstown Nationals made a similar change in advance of the 2019 season.
- Orioles manager Brandon Hyde kept reliever Hunter Harvey on a strict usage limit last season, though they preferred not to advertise the plan to opponents, per MASN’s Roch Kubatko. As Harvey made the transition from starter to reliever, he was not to be used on back-to-back days, and they slowed his usage even further when his arm wasn’t recuperating as quickly as they expected. Harvey, 25 in December, hopes the restrictions are lifted this season, though it will depend on his health as the season approaches. After 7 appearances and a 1.42 ERA in his debut in 2019, Harvey appears a lock to make the roster should his health allow it, which has often been the problem for the former first round pick. If Harvey survives the spring without any setbacks, expect him to have an opportunity in high-leverage situations for the Orioles, perhaps even as the club’s nominal closer.
NOV. 13: The KIA Tigers have officially signed Brooks, per Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net. His deal comes with a $479K salary and a $200K signing bonus.
NOV. 12: It appears that Orioles righty Aaron Brooks is headed to the KBO, according to reports from Dan Connolly of The Athletic (links to Twitter) and Naver Sports (Korean language link). If all the paperwork is completed, as expected, he’ll agree to a new deal with the KIA Tigers and be set free from the Baltimore 40-man roster.
This sort of arrangement is now commonplace for hurlers such as Brooks. The 29-year-old has shown enough to bounce around the waiver wire and receive MLB opportunities, but hasn’t fully established himself on an active roster.
Brooks did get a lengthy big-league look this year after a strong Triple-A campaign in 2018. He ultimately threw 110 frames on the year, spanning 18 starts and eleven relief appearances in stints with the A’s and O’s. The results weren’t as hoped, as Brooks stumbled to a 5.65 cumulative ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.
Though the Orioles again need to fill innings, Brooks was at risk of being kicked from the MLB roster at some point this winter. His lack of options helped keep him in the bigs in 2019 but also reduced his appeal to affiliated clubs. By allowing Brooks to leave, the Orioles will pick up some financial compensation. He’ll get a chance to compete at a high level and earn a salary that wouldn’t be available to him in North America.
- The Yankees “tried hard” to land Orioles reliever Mychal Givens at the trade deadline, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports. The right-hander was a popular figure on the rumor mill last July, with such clubs as the Indians, Dodgers, Braves, Phillies, and Nationals all reportedly showing interest in acquiring his services. It isn’t any surprise that the Yankees were also involved given how New York is constantly looking to reinforce its already strong bullpen, and it isn’t out of the question that the Yankees could ask about Givens again this winter. The 29-year-old is under team control for two more seasons (and projected to make $3.2MM in arbitration this winter), though Givens is coming off the worst of his five big league seasons. Givens posted a 12.3 K/9 and 3.31 K/BB rate over 63 innings but his ERA ballooned to 4.57, due in large part to a lot of problems keeping the ball in the park (1.9 HR/9).
- Sticking with Sherman’s piece, he wonders if the Yankees could perhaps try to land both Givens and Jonathan Villar from the Orioles in a package deal that would also address another team need — a lack of left-handed hitting. Interestingly, Sherman writes that there is some strategy behind this lineup imbalance, as the Yankees have preferred to deploy right-handed bats with opposite-field power rather than actual left-handed hitters, as lefty bats can be more easily hampered by defensive shifts. If the Bronx Bombers did decide to add more pop from the left side, however, Sherman feels the best possible solution would be switch-hitting superstar Francisco Lindor, if the Indians made him available in a trade. Beyond Villar, Sherman lists a few other players (old friend Didi Gregorius, Freddy Galvis, Tucker Barnhart, Jason Castro) who could be signed or acquired in trades to add left-handed balance to either the lineup or bench. In Galvis’ case, Sherman reports that he was the Yankees’ second choice as shortstop depth last offseason before they landed Troy Tulowitzki.
The Baltimore Orioles primary goal for the near-term remains adding as much talent to the organization as possible, primarily in the minor leagues. That said, GM Mike Elias does have a winter checklist in this, his first full offseason as GM (the Orioles hired him on November 16th of last year). Namely, the Orioles will be looking for pitching and a veteran shortstop, per MASNSports’ Roch Kubatko.
While still in the infancy of their rebuild, the Orioles do not plan to shop in the premium aisles of the free agent market, but adding free agent talent is as much about protecting the organization’s youngsters as it is about the talent influx itself. Said Elias, “…we want to have more depth than we went into last year in the event that injuries occur, that we can protect our young pitching prospects who will be coming up.”
The Orioles first have to decide which of their own players to protect before the Rule 5 draft, and with rosters expanding to 26 players this season, teams could use the extra roster spot to be more aggressive in the Rule 5 draft, as the Orioles themselves were last year in keeping shortstop Richie Martin on the roster. It was a tough campaign for Martin, who authored a .208/.260/.322 line across 355 plate appearances, likely ticketing him for extended time in the minor leagues in 2020 now that he is officially a part of the Baltimore organization. Martin’s example is the reason Baltimore will emphasize adding depth this winter, both on the hill and at shortstop, so that they are not forced to rush further prospects before they are ready.
Jonathan Villar is the only rostered player who saw significant time at shortstop last season, almost equally splitting his time between second and short. Hanser Alberto covers second and has spent some time at shortstop in the past, but the Orioles roster is devoid of middle infield depth beyond those two, assuming a Martin demotion.