Baltimore Orioles claim Austin Brice, DFA Breyvic Valera
By Tim Smart
On Friday afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles claimed RHP Austin Brice off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. In a corresponding move, they designated Breyvic Valera for assignment
The Baltimore Orioles have made another minor adjustment to their roster, adding RHP Austin Brice in a waiver claim on Friday. The Orioles will look for Brice to slot into the bullpen in Baltimore and provide stability in the middle innings for one of the worst relief staffs in the majors.
Brice was initially designated for assignment by the Reds in early November so Cincinnati could activate Alex Blandino and Jesse Winker from the 60-day DL. Brice was claimed by the Angels in November, but was designated for the second time this offseason just this past week to make room for Jonathan Lucroy.
In Brice, the Orioles are getting a big 26-year-old with a live fastball and a plus curve with three years of experience in the majors. Brice was drafted by the Marlins in the 9th round of the 2010 draft and made his major league debut in Miami.
In 84 innings across three seasons, Brice has a career 5.68 ERA, 5.25 FIP and a 20.1% strikeout rate. Brice has been significantly more effective in the minors than he has in the majors but the Orioles will look to change that. Brice’s fastball sits in the mid-90’s and touches 97, and his curve has good movement; the talent is there, but Brice hasn’t reached his potential.
This is a low-cost, low-risk addition for the Orioles and best case scenario for 2019, Brice serves as a consistent option in the middle innings for Brandon Hyde.
On the other end, the Orioles designated Breyvic Valera for assignment. This wasn’t a terribly surprising move considering the recent additions of infielders Rio Ruiz, Richie Martin, and Drew Jackson. Nor was it surprising considering Valera’s combined .234/.301/.266 slash line last year.
Martin could potentially serve as the Orioles’ starting shortstop next year and Ruiz seems likely to share time at third base with Renato Nunez. Jonathan Villar will more than likely man the keystone for the Orioles, and Jackson and Steve Wilkerson will fight for backup infield time.
Valera was always the odd man out in that group. If Valera makes it through waivers, the Orioles can keep him as an option in the minors and use him should the need arise. The Orioles can also try to use the opportunity to trade Valera, but at this point his market value is certainly quite low. Regardless, the Orioles might have a couple more of these small moves before the off-season wraps up and we hit spring training.