OCTOBER 25: Baltimore announced that each of Valaika, Eshelman and Wade has elected free agency as expected. That’s also true of catcher Austin Wynns, who was designated for assignment himself last week.
OCTOBER 23: The Orioles have outrighted infielder Pat Valaika and right-handers Thomas Eshelman and Konner Wade to Triple-A, according to MLB.com’s official transactions page. All three players have the option of rejecting the outright assignment and opting for free agency.
Valaika has the most big league experience of the trio, with 373 games under his belt with the Rockies and Orioles, including 142 appearances in a Baltimore uniform over the last two seasons. Valaika hit .277/.315/.475 over 150 PA in 2020 but his numbers cratered to a .540 OPS in 281 plate appearances this year, and he no longer seems to be in the club’s plans. Valaika was projected to earn $1.3MM in his second trip through the arbitration process this winter and already seemed like a non-tender candidate.
Eshelman could be a candidate to return for another season with the O’s, as he re-signed with the team on a new minor league deal after opting for free agency last offseason in the wake of an outright assignment. Eshelman has spent parts of the last three seasons with Baltimore, with a 5.77 ERA to show for his 98 1/3 career innings. While he has some extra utility as a swingman, Eshelman has only an 11.3% strikeout rate over his brief MLB career.
Wade made his MLB debut this season, posting an 11.68 ERA in 12 1/3 innings over seven appearances for Baltimore. A seventh-round pick for the Rockies in the 2013 draft, Wade pitched in the Mexican League and the independent leagues amidst stints in the Colorado and Boston farm systems before landing with the Orioles on a minor league deal this past winter. A groundball specialist earlier in this career, Wade has a 3.76 ERA over 735 innings in the minors, starting 109 of 175 career outings.