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Why O's could be forced to keep Bundy in big leagues

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Why O's could be forced to keep Bundy in big leagues

The Orioles are facing an important decision on Dylan Bundy. Actually, it’s not much of a decision. They probably don't have a choice. 

When Bundy signed a contract in 2011, it was a major league deal. At the time it was common for top draft choices to sign those. Since then, they’ve been bargained out of existence, and first round picks sign minor league contracts, sometimes with invitations to major league spring training. That's what 2013 pick Hunter Harvey did.

It didn’t seem like a big deal in 2011, and barely a year later when Bundy briefly made it to the big leagues, it seemed irrelevant.

Now, it’s not only relevant, but it could cost both Bundy and the Orioles, and there’s really no way around it.

Bundy, who has pitched 168 2/3 innings since 2012, is now far behind where the Orioles hoped he’d be.

Next year, he’ll have no options left, and if the Orioles want to keep him, as they most certainly do, since they’ve invested money and time on him, Bundy will have to be on the major league roster.

After his terrific 2012 season where he advanced from Delmarva to Frederick to Bowie, and finally to Baltimore, the Orioles would probably have started him back at Double-A in 2013.

MORE ORIOLES: FORMER ORIOLE NAMED ALL-STAR STARTER IN AL

But, Bundy wasn’t healthy and didn’t pitch at all two years ago. He had Tommy John surgery in June, and a year later was back pitching.

Last year, Bundy pitched just 41 1/3 innings for Aberdeen and Frederick, and after a healthy winter, the Orioles were hoping for big things from him.

After 22 innings with the Baysox, Bundy was shut down. Tendinitis in his right shoulder has prevented him from pitching, and it’s likely we won’t see him until January minicamp.
Bundy will have to be on next year’s big league roster, and that’s a shame because he almost certainly won’t be ready to pitch in the majors next April.

But, because Bundy negotiated a major league contract, he now can’t be sent to the minors without passing through waivers, and he’d be eagerly snapped up.

Had Bundy remained healthy in 2013, he probably would have been in the big leagues before midseason and lived happily ever after.

Now, he may get to the big leagues without ever having pitched at Triple-A.

Of course, the Orioles may start him on the disabled list next season, and he could pitch for 30 days in the minors on a rehab assignment, but they don’t have the latitude to keep him there.

The Orioles will in effect have a Rule 5 pick, and they won’t have the innings available in the minors to build him up as a starter.

Bundy will have to go to the bullpen, and he may be effective, but forcing him to stay in the majors may not be in his best interest—or the Orioles.

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Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

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USA TODAY Sports

Orioles' Manny Machado leading all American League shortstops in All-Star Game votes

The Orioles' Manny Machado is the early leader among American League shortstops in the first results of All-Star voting released by Major League Baseball Tuesday.

Machado holds a lead of 110,131 votes over the Cleveland Indians' Francisco Lindor. 

No other Orioles' player is on the list, and Adam Jones isn't listed among the top-15 of outfielders. 

The Astros' Carlos Correa was last year’s starting shortstop for the American League, but is in fourth place with 206,707 votes, trailing the Yankees' Didi Gregorius who has 208,583.

The next AL voting update will be announced June 19.

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

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Zach Britton rejoins Orioles after stint on disabled list

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton has been activated from the disabled list, six months after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Assuming he's finally healthy enough to resume his role as one of the best closers in the big leagues, the question now is: How long will Britton be with the Orioles?

Britton's contract expires after this season, and Baltimore entered play Monday with the worst record in the major leagues (19-45).

So, as he stood in front of his locker and spoke excitedly about his return to the Orioles, Britton conceded that his stay in Baltimore may not extend beyond the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

"I want to pitch well and help the team, regardless of our standing or trade discussions," he said.

Asked if the next few weeks might serve as an audition for other teams, Britton replied, "I guess so, but I'm not going to think of it like that."

Britton made the 2016 AL All-Star team during a season in which he converted all 47 of his save opportunities and compiled a 0.54 ERA in 69 appearances.

He fought forearm and knee injuries last season and had only 15 saves. Then, during the winter, he tore his right Achilles tendon during a workout.

"When I injured myself in December, I was just looking forward to walking again and running again and then to be able to pitch back in the big leagues," Britton said. "There were a lot of hurdles that I overcame."

Surgery and an intense rehab program under Orioles trainer Brian Ebel enabled the 30-year-old to return sooner than many anticipated.

"The thought that he's a pitcher for us on June 11, that's remarkable," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's checked every box to get ready. I don't know what else you could possibly do."

Although Britton will be pitching for a team that's struggled mightily this season, that won't influence the intensity he will bring to the mound.

"I had some injuries the last few years, so I'm looking forward to turning the page on that and just getting back to pitching well," he said. "Everyone in this clubhouse wants to do well at this level, and that's my focus."

To adjust the roster for Britton's return, the Orioles placed right-hander Pedro Araujo on the 10-day disabled list with a right elbow strain and moved outfielder Colby Rasmus to the 60-day DL.