Where does the Chris Davis signing leave the Orioles roster? It’s now actually fairly set. Barring injuries, perhaps 20 of the 25 roster spots are set.
Even before the Davis agreement, 10 of the 12 pitchers were fairly locked in. Starters Kevin Gausman, Miguel Gonzalez, Ubaldo Jimenez and Chris Tillman are givens. In the bullpen, it’s Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Brian Matusz, Darren O’Day and if he’s healthy, Dylan Bundy.
Manager Buck Showalter has said he’s going with 12 pitchers, and the fifth starter and, barring trades, another bullpen spot remain open.
At the end of last season, just four spots were secure: J.J. Hardy (shortstop), Adam Jones (center field), Manny Machado (third base) and Adam Jones (center field).
The Orioles re-signed Matt Wieters to a $15.8 million qualifying offer, something that many incorrectly forecast would have a detrimental effect on the team’s ability to sign other free agents.
They traded for Mark Trumbo, a slugger who can play the outfield, first base and be the designated hitter, signed South Korean outfielder Hyun Soo Kim, and now have brought back Davis.
Add in Caleb Joseph as the team’s backup catcher and Ryan Flaherty as the utility infielder leaves three position player slots unaccounted for.
If he plays decently in spring training, one could be allocated to Rule 5 draftee Joey Rickard, who has on-base ability and speed. Rickard could also serve as a needed understudy to Jones in center.
Last year, the team suffered when Jones was hurt and they didn’t have an adequate fill-in.
For the moment, the favorites for the last two spots seem to be L.J. Hoes, Jimmy Paredes and Nolan Reimold. Hoes was picked up from Houston and Reimold re-signed. Paredes was under club control.
Other contenders on the roster include Dariel Alvarez and Henry Urrutia.
Paredes has no position, but is a switch-hitter. Urrutia’s main advantage is that he’s a left-handed hitter.
Joey Terdoslavich is also a switch-hitting outfielder, but he could be removed from the roster when Davis is added to the 40-man roster.
It’s likely that the Orioles will try and sign another outfielder, preferably a left-handed hitting one. There are still some interesting choices left on the market. Matt Joyce, David Murphy and Will Venable are all still free agents, and all can play right field and bat left-handed. The Orioles have shown interest in Murphy and Venable in the past.
The Orioles’ bigger concern is finding that other starting pitcher. With the team’s payroll heading north, possibly in excess of $140 million, it seems unlikely they’ll pay the bigger money that Yovani Gallardo will likely want. Ian Kennedy, the other name starter on the market, has a reported five-year, $70 million deal, and Gallardo will certainly want something like that.
Doug Fister, who the Orioles also have had interest in, is reportedly looking for a two-year, $22 million contract. That would be a reach for the Orioles, too.