Baltimore Orioles: Can Flaherty hang onto his roster spot?


Photo: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training always brings a lot of tough decisions for team management and executives, but for a team with as talented a roster as the Orioles the decisions are exceptionally difficult. Even as the Orioles have gradually begun to make theirs cuts, what exactly the 25-man roster will look on opening day is hard to predict.

Fortunately for the Orioles, unlike most teams, their problem is too much major-league level talent and not enough spots. For that reason, the Orioles may be forced to part ways with talented players that would normally be a shoe-in for a roster spot. One of the casualties of those decisions could be utility-infielder Ryan Flaherty.

Since coming over in the 2012 Rule-5 draft Flaherty has hardly been the star of the Orioles, but he has been a productive bench player on a team that has had established players at most positions. Although he has shown some pop in the past, his bat has never been his greatest strength.

His main contribution to the team has been his defense and versatility, and those are two things that manager Buck Showalter values tremendously. However, with the talent currently in spring training those attributes may not be enough to warrant a roster spot.

His main completion could come from minor-league veteran Jimmy Parades, who the Orioles picked up from the waiver-wire last September. As Orioles fans saw last season, Parades looks to be an upgrade offensively over Flaherty. Parades is also a switch-hitter which gives Showalter some versatility with the lineup.

Although Parades is an upgrade offensively, he was obviously not defensively. Flaherty has shown he can play strong defense at a number of different positions, while Parades struggled at times in the field last season. However, the main factor going for Parades may be the fact that he is out of options and must pass waivers to be sent to AAA, whereas Flaherty has options remaining.

The Orioles are also looking strongly at recently signed Everth Cabrera. The former all-star brings a much needed speed and base-stealing element to a team that was lacking in those categories last season, and may work to manufacture runs more this season. Cabrera, who is a natural short-stop, has also been strong defensively in the past.

However, if the Orioles plan to use him in a utility-role, Cabrera may spend the beginning of the season in AAA to gather more experience at multiple positions. This could mean Flaherty begins the season on the roster, but if he struggles early at the plate, and Cabrera has success in his new role in AAA, Flaherty could quickly lose his roster spot.

It’s a good problem to have, but having so many quality options could make for an interesting last few weeks of March for the Orioles.

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