Baltimore Orioles: Roster decisions coming…


Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles roster crunch has been a story seemingly since the beginning of camp. Now with J.J. Hardy and Jimmy Paredes slated to come off the DL next week the roster puzzle doesn’t look to be getting any clearer.

Obviously with both players returning to the 25-man roster the Orioles must make room by removing two players from the existing roster. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue. However, this season the Orioles have an unusual amount of players without minor-league options. That also normally wouldn’t be an issue, accept that all of the option-less players are valuable and would quickly be claimed by other teams.

Jimmy Paredes, for example, doesn’t have any options and must be placed on the 25-man roster. This will probably lead to an unfortunate situation for veteran Oriole Ryan Flaherty. Although Flaherty has been useful in the utility-role the last few seasons, his demotion will be a result of him being one of the few players with options.

Flaherty is a plus-defender at multiple positions, and it’s obvious that Buck Showalter values his versatility. It’s also obvious that Flaherty is a much better defender than Parades. However, with Everth Cabrera on the roster, the Orioles can afford to sacrifice Flaherty’s glove for Parades’ bat on the bench. It’s still possible that the Orioles could option Cabrera over Flaherty, but Cabrera’s base-stealing threat and switch-hitting make him a more intriguing candidate to remain on the roster.

Deciding on the second player to be optioned could be much more challenging. Outfielder David Lough would seem to be the most obvious choice given his lack of playing time last season, and the abundance of quality outfielders in front of him. However, he too is out of options, and it’s hard to imagine the Orioles losing a quality player for nothing, even if he has minimal value at the moment.

Because of the way the roster is set up at the moment, the Orioles may elect to demote a pitcher, and, to the outrage of many Orioles’ fans, the odd man out may be Kevin Gausman. Unfortunately for him, he is one of the few pitchers with options remaining. This is extremely frustrating for people who want to see what a pitcher who has hit 101 mph twice this season can accomplish in a full major-league season.

Although it’s most likely a product of his over-eagerness to earn a spot back in the rotation, he has struggled to start the season. However, it’s definitely not because of his stuff (note the 101 mph mentioned earlier). He’s going to be really good, and it doesn’t take an advanced scout to see that. Frustratingly enough, again, the future of the Orioles’ staff may be pushed onto the backburner.

On the positive side, the Orioles could use this to get Gausman back into the routine of being in a five-man rotation. That way the transition back into Baltimore’s rotation would be smoother later on. Also, he could use this time to build confidence while he dominates lineups of mainly utility-infielders in the International League.

Having too many quality players is a luxury most teams don’t have, however, it does make the roster a difficult puzzle to solve if you’re Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter. 

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