Baltimore Orioles – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-10-25T23:54:09Z WordPress Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Orioles To Re-Sign Stevie Wilkerson]]> 2020-10-25T20:59:40Z 2020-10-25T20:59:40Z The Orioles are re-signing utilityman Stevie Wilkerson to a minor-league contract, reports Roch Kubatko of He’ll receive an invitation to spring training.

The 28-year-old (29 in January) saw rather extensive action for Baltimore between 2018-19. Across those two seasons, he took 410 plate appearances and put together a .219/.279/.365 line with ten home runs. Lackluster offensive showing aside, Wilkerson found his way into the lineup thanks to his defensive versatility. He logged the majority of his action in center field, but he also picked up multiple starts at second and third base and in the corner outfield. Wilkerson even pitched four times in mop-up duty.

Outrighted off the O’s 40-man roster last offseason, Wilkerson still received an invitation to Summer Camp. Unfortunately, he broke his left ring finger during workouts and didn’t get into a game. He’ll look to play his way back into the mix next spring.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Orioles, Mike Elias]]> 2020-10-25T03:44:45Z 2020-10-25T03:44:49Z 10:43PM: A league spokesperson released a statement to media (including Roch Kubatko of in regards to the Daily News story, saying “Major League Baseball is completely comfortable with the Orioles’ coaching designations for the 2020 season, which are not only consistent with the terms of the pension plan but were approved in advance by MLB and shared prior to the start of the season with representatives from the Major League Baseball Players Association.  The suggestion that there is an ongoing investigation that could result in discipline is simply false.”

9:32PM: The MLB Players Association is currently investigating a complaint involving Orioles general manager and executive vice-president Mike Elias and pitching director Chris Holt, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News reports.  The matter has to do with Holt’s inclusion on a list of Orioles coaches who qualify for the pension plan between the union and the league.

Teams are permitted to place four coaches per year on the pension plan, “which includes lucrative medical benefits and life insurance,” as well as a players’ licensing check worth somewhere between $40K-$60K.  Madden says only full-time, uniformed coaches are eligible for inclusion, however, and Holt didn’t meet this criteria as the team’s pitching director.

Holt spent much of the 2020 season working at the Orioles’ alternate training site, as Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun notes that the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the team’s original plan for Holt’s role — a normal season would have seen Holt work throughout the organization with both big league and minor league pitchers.  The other three Baltimore coaches listed (third base coach Jose Flores, hitting coach Don Long, and field coordinator/catching instructor Tim Cossins) spent the season working with the Major League team.

Elias is involved in the matter since, as the Orioles’ GM, he was responsible for naming the four coaches to the pension plan.  The MLBPA’s pension committee is reviewing the complaint, and it is yet unclear what type of punishment could be levied.  At worst, Elias could face a charge of pension fraud, a lawyer with experience of the MLBPA pension plan tells Madden, if it is ruled that Elias included Holt on the four-coach list despite knowing Holt wasn’t eligible.

Holt and Elias previously worked together in the Astros organization when Elias was Houston’s assistant GM, and Holt was one of Elias’ earliest hires after becoming Baltimore’s general manager following the 2018 season.  Holt worked as the Orioles’ minor league pitching coordinator in 2019 before being promoted to his current role, and there has been speculation that Holt could become the team’s pitching coach for 2021.

Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Rylan Bannon Expanding Defensive Versatility]]> 2020-10-20T01:21:22Z 2020-10-20T01:21:22Z
  • The Orioles will have to decide whether to add infielder Rylan Bannon to their 40-man roster in advance of this winter’s Rule 5 draft. In an effort to improve his chances of cracking the roster, Bannon is expanding his defensive repertoire, as Rich Dubroff of Baltimore Baseball details. “I’m (at instructional league) to work on second base stuff, and kind of surprising, (Friday) was my second day of working on a little bit of catching stuff,” Bannon said. The 24-year-old started 37 minor-league games at the keystone in 2019, compared with 84 starts at third. He has never lined up behind the plate. Part of the five-player return from the Dodgers in the Manny Machado trade, Bannon combined for a .266/.345/.421 line between Double-A and Triple-A last season.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Chris Holt Leading In-House Candidate For Pitching Coach]]> 2020-10-19T16:47:04Z 2020-10-19T16:47:04Z Chris Holt is the leading in-house candidate to take over the Orioles’ vacant pitching coach position, per’s Joe Trezza. Holt came to the Orioles from the Astros as the minor league coordinator, but he’s since been promoted to Director of Pitching. A further step up into the ML dugout would be a natural progression for Holt, who has drawn compliments, per Trezza, for “fluency in analytics and ability to communicate that information to players, amongst other skills.” Doug Brocail was the pitching coach in 2020, but he is not returning to manager Brandon Hyde’s staff. The Orioles have made the protection and development of their young pitching one of the hallmarks of the current regime, and promoting Holt now could signal a readiness for some of those prospects to begin making an impact at the major league level. Let’s check in on some other coaching and front office rumblings from around the league…

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Orioles Announce Layoffs]]> 2020-10-15T01:22:05Z 2020-10-15T01:21:32Z
  • The Baltimore Orioles laid off 11 workers and furloughed 35 more, per Nathan Ruiz of the Baltimore Sun. At present, those furloughed employees are set to return to work on February 1st to match the timeline for spring training. Teams all across MLB have laid off large portions of the their staff because of revenue lost to the coronavirus pandemic. No fans were allowed in Camden Yards for the 60-game season, very much complicating the revenue picture for the Orioles (as with other clubs) moving forward. Ruiz provides a quote from GM Mike Elias that sums up the 2020 season, saying: “Baseball teams do a lot of planning, looking ahead, and just all of that is just totally out of the window because of this event that came in and turned the world upside down.”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Orioles' Coaching Search]]> 2020-10-13T20:05:13Z 2020-10-13T19:58:57Z
  • The Orioles are looking to replace pitching coach Doug Brocail and third base coach Jose Flores, though’s Roch Kubatko hears that the team could look to fill the positions internally.  A source tells Kubatko that the team is “rearranging things” in the wake of the tumultuous 2020 season, and moving already-employed personnel into those coaching roles would be a way for the O’s to save money.  Beyond just the financial aspect, the Orioles are expected to be making some changes to their minor league coaching and developmental staffs as well, so internal promotions could be a part of those plans (not to mention keeping people within the organization if any of Baltimore’s farm teams are contracted).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Orioles To Replace Coaches Doug Brocail & Jose Flores]]> 2020-10-01T02:07:11Z 2020-10-01T02:07:11Z The Orioles are planning some reshuffling in their coaching staff for the 2021 season, Roch Kubatko of reports. Both pitching coach Doug Brocail and third base coach Jose Flores will be replaced over the offseason.

    The change comes despite the fact that the Baltimore organization enjoyed a generally promising campaign that featured far more effective pitching than most anticipated. Brocail guided a mix-and-match staff to a middle-of-the-road performance.

    There’s no indication (and no reason to believe) that second-year skipper Brandon Hyde is at risk. And Kubatko indicates that the remainder of the coaching staff will remain in place, at least for the time being.

    In large part, it seems, these are part of a more general set of organizational moves. Kubatko indicates that the O’s are undertaking “broad structural changes” in light of ongoing economic turmoil and anticipated minor-league contraction.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Outright Evan Phillips]]> 2020-09-30T17:58:49Z 2020-09-30T17:58:49Z The Orioles announced Wednesday that right-hander Evan Phillips has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Norfolk. Baltimore’s 40-man roster is down to 36 players.

    Phillips, 26, was acquired in the 2018 trade that sent Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day to the Braves. He’s been up and down with the O’s since that trade, pitching to a 7.36 ERA with an impressive 65 strikeouts (12.3 K/9) but an alarming 36 walks (6.8 BB/9) through 47 2/3 frames as a member of the Baltimore ’pen.

    Control issues have been a problem even in the upper minors, although Phillips does also own a 3.41 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 121 Triple-A innings. Phillips sits a bit north of 94 mph with his heater but doesn’t possess the type of high-end spin rate or swinging-strike rates on the pitch one would expect from a pitcher with his strikeout rates.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[GM Mike Elias On Orioles’ Season, Looking Ahead To 2021]]> 2020-09-27T16:39:42Z 2020-09-27T16:39:42Z Orioles executive VP and general manager Mike Elias met with reporters yesterday for the traditional end-of-season media session, discussing both the 2020 season and what might be in store for next year.  Some notable items, as per’s Roch Kubatko and The Baltimore Sun’s Jon Meoli

    • In general terms, Elias felt the season had “enough positive things where we can feel good that this year was far from wasted and that there was progress made in our ultimate goals.”  With a 24-35 record entering today’s finale, the Orioles’ .407 winning percentage at least represents an improvement over the .312 mark posted by the team over the 2018-19 seasons (101-223).  A few more wins and some development progress still left Elias less than satisfied, as “it’s very difficult for me to label any season a success where we have a losing record and don’t make the playoffs.”
    • This doesn’t mean the Orioles’ rebuild process is getting a fast-forward, however, as Elias indicated that the O’s will continue to limit spending since their financial picture is clouded by the pandemic.  “We can’t estimate our revenue, our attendance,” Elias said.  “We can’t estimate various things that we look at when we look at a player or roster budget, so it’s so day-to-day.”
    • Baltimore doesn’t have much in the way of long-term salary commitments anyway, with the very notable exception of Chris Davis.  The struggling first baseman had another rough season, and is still owed $46MM before the end of the 2022 season.  There has been speculation that the Orioles could simply release Davis and eat that remaining salary in order to free up a roster spot and playing time for a younger player, yet Elias said the club isn’t planning to move on from Davis: “We’re taking it as it comes, but he is under contract with this team, there’s a lot that goes into that and we do not have plans to alter that fact.”
    • In terms of offseason targets, Elias noted that the O’s will continue to look for infield help, as it was an area of concern when Elias joined the organization following the 2018 season.  “I think that deficit of infielders was mainly owing to the lack of international pipeline, because that’s where a lot of major league infielders are coming from these days….We’ve tried to attack it through the last couple of drafts and also a couple of trades, and we’ve gotten the international free agent spigot flowing now, so hopefully all of that will long-term fortify our infield depth,” Elias said.  “But, it’s like pitching, one of those areas where everyone is always looking for more.”
    • Retaining Jose Iglesias would be an obvious way to shore up the 2021 infield, though Elias didn’t address Iglesias’ contract option besides saying the veteran infielder “really helped us and we love having him.”  Despite a quad injury that led to a brief injured list trip and more DH time than was expected for the longtime shortstop, Iglesias unexpectedly delivered a monster year at the plate, hitting .373/.400/.556 over 150 plate appearances.  The O’s signed Iglesias to a one-year contract last winter that contained a $3.5MM club option for 2021 with a $500K buyout, and one would think Iglesias has done enough to get that option exercised.
    • And, in the best news of all, Elias believes Trey Mancini will be healthy and ready to return for Spring Training.  Mancini had a malignant tumor removed from his colon last spring and is now through with chemotherapy treatment.  “He just went through a lot and he’s going to have to get his strength and his baseball activities back and all that, and there’s still going to be some work and a process going into that this winter,” Elias said.  “But he’s such a strong, dedicated, mentally strong kid and person that we have nothing but confidence that he can do it this offseason and have a great year next year.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Wei-Yin Chen Signs With NPB’s Chiba Lotte Marines]]> 2020-09-22T14:01:40Z 2020-09-22T13:59:06Z It’s been nearly a year since veteran left-hander Wei-Yin Chen pitched in a professional game, but the former Orioles and Marlins hurler will be returning to the mound with the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball. The Marines announced that they’ve signed the 35-year-old southpaw for the remainder of the 2020 season (hat tip to NPB Tracker’s Patrick Newman, on Twitter). He’s currently going through a two-week quarantine before joining the Marines, per Focus Taiwan. He’ll be formally introduced at an Oct. 5 press conference.

    Chen had hoped to return to the big leagues in 2020, signing a minor league deal with the Mariners after being released by the Marlins following the 2019 season. Seattle cut him loose in June, however, prior to the return-to-play agreement between MLB and the MLBPA. The Taiwanese lefty wasn’t able to latch on with another MLB organization, so he’ll instead return to NPB, where he starred for the Chunichi Dragons for five seasons prior to his original MLB deal with the Orioles. In five seasons with the Dragons, Chen logged a 2.59 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9, totaling 650 2/3 frames along the way.

    That strong showing caught the eye of then-Baltimore GM Dan Duquette and his staff, who inked Chen to a three-year deal worth a bit less than $12MM (plus a club option for a fourth year). That investment paid off in spades, as Chen emerged as a fixture in the O’s rotation over the subsequent four years. From 2012-15, Chen turned in 706 2/3 innings of 3.72 ERA ball with a 4.14 FIP. His 7.0 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 marks were near-mirror images of his strikeout and walk rates in NPB. Chen averaged 29 starts and 177 innings per season in his four-year run with the Orioles, adding three postseason starts along the way (two very good ones and one rather poor outing against the Tigers).

    Weighted metrics like ERA+ and ERA- painted Chen about 10 percent better than the league average in that time, given his tough home park, and he parlayed that quality run into a hefty five-year, $80MM deal with the Marlins. Miami lived to regret the deal, as the highly durable Chen was sidelined by an elbow sprain by mid-July in the first year of the contract (2016). He was limited to 33 innings in 2017 as he battled a UCL injury that ultimately did not require surgery. Chen returned to the Miami rotation in 2018 but struggled to a 4.79 ERA through 26 starts. He spent the 2019 campaign in the team’s bullpen but posted a 6.59 ERA, which led to an offseason DFA and his eventual release.

    That release proved to be a blessing in disguise for Chen and a financial nightmare for the Marlins. Because he was cut loose in November — well before there was any talk of a shortened season — Chen is owed the entirety of his $22MM salary in 2020 rather than the prorated portion of that sum. His new deal with the Marines will tack about $290K onto that sum, per Nikkan Sports.

    It’s always possible that Chen could make his way back to the Major Leagues if he’s able to revitalize his career in Japan, although given that he’s now 35 and a half decade removed from MLB success, that seems like a long shot. If Chen’s time as a Major Leaguer is through, he’ll wrap things up with a 59-51 record, a 4.18 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 over the life of 1064 2/3 innings in the bigs.

    Chen certainly didn’t justify the Marlins’ weighty investment in his left arm, but he was also an overwhelming bargain for the Orioles, who paid him just shy of $15.5MM in his four years there. It wasn’t a strong finish for Chen, but his overall body of work in the big leagues was quite solid — particularly given that half of it was spent in the AL East and pitching his home games at Camden Yards.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Outright Cody Carroll]]> 2020-09-21T19:14:35Z 2020-09-21T19:14:35Z The Orioles announced Monday that right-hander Cody Carroll has cleared waivers and been outrighted off the 40-man roster. He’s still with the club at its alternate training site.

    Carroll, 27, was acquired from the Yankees alongside Dillon Tate and Josh Rogers in 2018’s Zack Britton trade. He made a brief debut with the O’s that same season but was tagged for 17 runs in 17 innings of work. Carroll’s 2020 results were even more alarming, as he pitched just two innings with the O’s but was hammered for a dozen runs on nine hits and five walks with three strikeouts. Overall, he’s sitting on a 13.74 career ERA.

    Though he’s never been considered a premium prospect, struggles of this magnitude are still surprising for Carroll, given his strong minor league track record. Carroll hasn’t simply held his own in the minors but has pitched quite well. In parts of five minor league campaigns, he’s worked to a 2.71 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 4.1 BB/9, 0.31 HR/9 and a 47.3 percent ground-ball rate. He’s given up nearly as many home runs (six) in 19 Major League innings as he has in 232 2/3 minor league frames (eight).

    Carroll underwent back surgery in 2018 — a procedure that kept him out for nearly all of the 2019 season. He pitched just one inning in Rookie ball last year but did toss 8 2/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League, yielding only a pair of runs on seven hits and seven walks with 11 punchouts. The lack of a minor league season surely didn’t do Carroll any favors in returning to MLB readiness, and he’ll now look for an opportunity in the future to pitch his way back onto the 40-man roster.

    Baltimore’s 40-man roster is down to 37 players, and the club has 59 players in its 60-player pool.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Carson Fulmer From Orioles]]> 2020-09-21T18:32:33Z 2020-09-21T18:32:33Z The Pirates announced Monday that for the second time this season, they’ve claimed right-hander Carson Fulmer off waivers. Pittsburgh claimed Fulmer off waivers from the Tigers in late August but lost him to the Orioles in early September before he ever pitched a game in Pittsburgh. Baltimore apparently tried to pass Fulmer through waivers themselves in order to retain him without committing a 40-man roster spot to him, but the Bucs put in a claim to bring him back.

    Fulmer, 26, hasn’t lived up to the billing since being selected by the White Sox with the No. 8 overall pick back in 2015. At various points, the former Vanderbilt star was even considered a potential No. 1 overall pick, but he’s struggled in the upper minors with the ChiSox and been hit hard at virtually every point in his up-and-down Major League career.

    To this point, Fulmer owns a woeful 6.34 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 5.9 BB/9 in 105 Major League innings. But there’s plenty of pedigree here, and he still possesses high-end spin rates on his heater and curveball. His time in the Orioles organization was brief but also encouraging, as Fulmer tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings with four strikeouts and without a hit. He did walk two batters and plunk another one, however, so his longstanding control issues are still making themselves plainly evident.

    Fulmer is out of minor league options, so the Pirates will have to carry him on the Opening Day roster next year or else attempt yet again to pass him through waivers in order to keep him around. He hasn’t even come close to going unclaimed at this point, so that might be unlikely. The Tigers had the top waiver priority when they claimed him from the White Sox on Opening Day, and the Pirates had the top claim priority when they plucked him from Detroit the first time around. Ten teams passed before the Orioles won their claim on him earlier this month, and the Pirates again claimed him with top priority this time around.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Orioles Outright Asher Wojciechowski, Release Mason Williams]]> 2020-09-21T13:25:57Z 2020-09-21T13:25:57Z The Orioles have sent right-hander Asher Wojciechowski outright to Triple-A Norfolk after he cleared waivers and released outfielder Mason Williams from their alternate training site in Bowie, per a club announcement. That Wojciechowski was outrighted to Norfolk and not to the alternate site indicates that he has been removed from the team’s player pool.

    Barring a new minor league pact this winter, it seems likely that this will end Wojciechowski’s time with the Orioles. He’s been outrighted in the past and will be eligible to opt for free agency after the season. (Technically, he could do so immediately, although it’s hard to imagine him latching on with another club with such limited time remaining on the schedule.)

    Baltimore picked Wojciechowski up from Cleveland in exchange for cash last summer, plugging the journeyman into a rotation vacancy that he he ultimately turned into a full-time spot for more than a year. He posted serviceable numbers in 2019, logging a 4.92 ERA with an 80-to-28 K/BB ratio in 82 1/3 frames, and even tossed a 10-strikeout, 7 1/3-inning scoreless gem against the Red Sox in his best Baltimore outing. However, the 2020 campaign saw Wojciechowski limp to a 6.81 ERA and 6.67 FIP in 37 frames, and the O’s eventually moved on to younger options.

    The 31-year-old Wojciechowski has spent parts of four seasons in the Majors, also appearing with the Astros and Reds, although that 2019 season in Baltimore was his best in the Majors. He has a solid Triple-A track record and plenty of experience at that level (635 innings), so he could serve as a depth option elsewhere in the league this winter or perhaps field interest from teams overseas.

    As for the 29-year-old Williams, he appeared in 21 games with the O’s from 2019-20 but hit just .208/.250/.271 in 52 plate appearances. He was outrighted to the alternate site earlier this month. The former top prospect has never found his footing in the Majors. He did slash .293/.331/.398 in 132 plate appearances with the 2018 Reds, but that marked his career-high in plate appearances at the MLB level. He’s a .272/.309/.370 hitter in the big leagues and carries a .746 OPS through parts of five Triple-A seasons.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Rays Activate Mike Zunino, Option Sean Gilmartin]]> 2020-09-20T22:17:53Z 2020-09-20T22:17:53Z The Tampa Bay Rays activated Mike Zunino from the injured list, while optioning Sean Gilmartin to the alternate training site, per Juan Toribio of (via Twitter).

    The 29-year-old Zunino competes for the starting catcher job when healthy, but he’s been out for almost a month now with a left oblique strain. Over the first 23 games, Zunino slashed .133/.235/.383, a more extreme but not uncharacteristic iteration of his career line: .200/.270/.394. He’s long been considered a boom-or-bust option at the plate, but it’s now his third consecutive season with a wRC+ south of 100 (69 wRC+ in 2020). What’s worse, he hasn’t posted particularly strong defensive numbers of late. He finished last season ranked 35th in Statcast’s catcher framing metrics and tied for 14th in poptime. The Rays hold a $4.5MM option on Zunino for 2021.

    Zunino will compete with Michael Perez and Kevan Smith for time behind the plate. Perez has received the most time behind the plate this season, but like Zunino, he has struggled at the plate. The 28-year-old has a 39 wRC+ and a triple slash of .177/.241/.252. Smith has been the best offensive option of the bunch, slashing .273/.429/.500 while generating 0.3 fWAR. Still, the Rays seem to prefer Zunino or Perez behind the plate.

    Gilmartin has bounced around the league since an exceptional 50-game stretch to start his career with the Mets in 2015. He posted a 2.67 ERA/2.75 FIP that season with 3.00 K/BB, but in the five seasons since, he’s put up a 6.09 ERA/6.71 FIP across 54 2/3 innings for the Mets, Orioles, and Rays. After spending the past two seasons in Baltimore, Gilmartin, 30, joined the Rays this year but has made just 2 appearances on the season.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Orioles Trade International Bonus Pool Money For Connor Loeprich]]> 2020-09-20T20:17:01Z 2020-09-20T20:17:01Z The other two trades helped build the Pirates’ 2019-2020 international pool money. The Pirates sent left-hander Domingo Robles to the St. Louis Cardinals and right-hander Connor Loeprich to the Baltimore Orioles in separate trades for international pool money.