Under the Radar Moves and Finishing Up the Arbitration Process


Andy MacPhail and the Orioles have made a number of under the radar moves this offseason that got lost in the shuffle of the Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, and Vladimir Guerrero news. One thing the Orioles have been lacking is depth, especially in the infield, and I think MacPhail did a good job of picking up veterans who can step in during the season in case of injuries. These aren’t the fancy moves everyone looks for, but they are necessary.

Additionally, Andy MacPhail once again was able to avoid arbitration and came to an agreement in the past few days with Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie. Scott signed a one year $6.4 million dollar deal, while Guthrie signed a one year $5.75 million dollar deal. This is nothing but good news as now the Orioles can go into Spring Training with no contract distractions and no hard feelings.

Back to those under the radar moves, if you blinked you may have missed the fact that the Orioles signed Mark Hendrickson, Nick Green, Randy Winn, David Riske, and Clay Rapada. These were all small moves, but provided the Orioles with depth and guys who have track records.

Hendrickson, Riske, and Rapada will compete for that final bullpen spot and also help ease the loss of relievers David Hernandez, Jim Hoey, and Kam Mickolio to trades. Remember last season when the Orioles were pulling up guys from Triple A to pitch in the bullpen who had no business pitching in the majors? Hopefully, by adding some of these guys, the Orioles will have Plans B, C, and D when the inevitable injuries hit the bullpen.

Most likley Hendrickson and Rapada will be finalists for the seventh and final bullpen spot. They will also have to keep an eye on Rich Vanden Hurk, who is out of options, and can start or pitch in relief. Obviously, a lot of this will play out in spring training, but my preference would be for the Orioles to go into the season with two lefties in the bullpen. I think it is very important for the Orioles to have multiple lefties in the bullpen to mix and match and not rely on Mike Gonzalez all the time. It will also allow the Orioles to have another option in case Gonzalez gets injured again.

Hendrickson struggled last season, but he is a veteran who would give the Orioles flexibility with his ability to pitch multiple innings and spot start in emergency cases. Rapada hasn’t had much major league experience, but he has shown he can get left handed batters out. Left handed hitters have hit just .186 off Rapada and he may just be that second situational lefty out of the bullpen the Orioles are looking for.

Nick Green was a signing that goes along with a number of middle infielders the Orioles have picked up this offseason. Unfortunately, J.J. Hardy is the only pick up that actually has a chance at being a long term solution for the Orioles, but these moves do provide the team with infield depth they were severly lacking. In addition to trading for J.J. Hardy, the Orioles resigned Cesar Izturis to come off the bench and they also added Brendan Harris in the Hardy deal. Nick Green, Robert Andino, and Brendan Harris are going to have to battle it out for that last bench spot, but they also give the Orioles depth in the middle infield in case of injuries to Roberts and Hardy who have had injury problems in recent seasons.

Randy Winn may be the most interesting of these moves. Winn is a long shot to make the team unless of course the Orioles have plans to trade Felix Pie. Both are similar style players, although Winn is on the downside of his career. Could the Orioles be looking into trading Pie? Winn would be a solid fourth outfielder who can back up all three outfield spots.

Most likely these moves will all stay under the radar and never have much of an impact on the Orioles this season. However, you never know when an injury or trade will crop up and one of these players may have to step in help the Orioles out during the season. Let Spring Training begin!