Wednesday was a dizzying day for the Orioles. They added three players, subtracted four, and the Winter Meetings don’t start until Monday.
Mark Trumbo was the biggest name added, C.J. Riefenhauser the longest, and Francisco Pena the most unknown.
On the conference call introducing Trumbo, Dan Duquette promised that his addition wasn’t going to be the last move the Orioles made this offseason. It wasn’t even the last move they made in the evening.
Pena, the son of the excellent major league catcher and Yankees coach, Tony Pena, was added as a third catcher. He replaced Steve Clevenger, who was dealt to Seattle.
Clevenger, Paul Janish, Steve Johnson and David Lough are no longer with the club, though perhaps one of them will find their way back.
Janish, Johnson and Lough were non-tendered. The Janish move was a surprise because the team could have let Rey Navarro go instead. But, Navarro, who didn’t receive a callup to the big leagues in September remains on the roster, and Janish, who received plaudits for his professionalism everywhere he played last year, did.
It is possible that Janish signs a minor league contract here later, but he’s also a highly intelligent man who’s a semester off from his economics degree from Rice.
Johnson made it back to the big leagues last September for the first time since 2013, and didn’t pitch well. His 10.13 ERA in six appearances didn’t bode well for his retention.
The son of the popular former Orioles pitcher Dave Johnson, now an admired broadcaster, Johnson needs a fresh start.
In 2012, he was 4-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 12 games, and plagued by injuries in recent years, it’s best he gets an opportunity away from his hometown.
Clevenger, who we’ll hear from later today, is a fun guy, who enjoyed playing for his hometown team and will get an opportunity with the Mariners.
Lough’s non-tender was hardly a surprise. He was a disappointment in his two seasons. Acquired for Danny Valencia in Dec. 2013, the Orioles hoped Lough would be a replacement for Nate McLouth, but he was not an adequate one.
He had a few good moments. His game-ending, 10th inning home run against Boston in April was probably his best, but they were few and far between.
In two seasons with the Orioles, Lough batted .227 and wasn’t nearly as good an outfielder as the team hoped. They also wanted speed, but in two seasons, he was thrown out nearly as often trying to steal (nine times) as he was successful (10 times).
With Clevenger gone, it’s unlikely that the Orioles will carry three catchers, but if something happens to Matt Wieters or Caleb Joseph, Pena, who’s played just a handful of big league games, is around.
Pena and Audry Perez, who was re-signed as a minor league free agent, can be veteran catchers at Triple-A as Chance Sisco learns the trade.
Riefenhauser is another left-hander for the bullpen. He joins Zach Britton, Brian Matusz, T.J. McFarland and rookies Tim Berry and Christopher Lee on the 40-man.
Matusz was one of eight arbitration eligible players the Orioles offered contracts to. So were Britton, Trumbo, Brad Brach, Ryan Flaherty, Miguel Gonzalez, Manny Machado and Chris Tillman.
Two other arb-eligibles, Nolan Reimold and Vance Worley, agreed to one-year contracts, avoiding arbitration.
Some interesting names were non-tendered. Oakland’s Ike Davis, who has been linked to the Orioles in the past, was. And so were Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez and Houston’s Chris Carter. They’ll be linked to the team shortly. So might Miami’s Henderson Alvarez, a live arm, who had shoulder surgery last year.
Back in 2012, Davis hit 32 home runs for the New York Mets, but last year hit just three in 74 games for Oakland. He is a left-handed hitter, and the Orioles, with Trumbo’s addition, look awfully right-handed heavy.
Two of the players they lost, Clevenger and Lough were left-handers, and if Chris Davis walks, that’s another big left-handed bat. The only left-handed hitters on the 40-man are Flaherty and outfielder Henry Urrutia. Navarro, Wieters and Jimmy Paredes are switch-hitters. Adding some left-handed hitters has to be a priority.
Alvarez and Carter are both interesting. They could conceivably be first basemen or designated hitters. Alvarez, a close friend of Flaherty’s, is particularly attractive because he is a left-handed hitter.
He’s challenged in the field and makes errors by the dozens (23 at first base last year), but Alvarez hits home runs. He hit 27 last year, and struck out 131 times. Alvarez walks enough to have an on-base percentage higher than the Orioles’.
Carter hit just .199 last year, but had a .301 OBP. He hits lots of homers and in 2013, struck out an amazing 212 times.
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