Baltimore Orioles: Important Roster Decisions Due By Tonight
By Nick Stevens
The deadline to set 40-man rosters is Wednesday night. What moves will the Baltimore Orioles make?
By 8 pm EST tonight, the Baltimore Orioles will have to set their 40-man roster and decide which Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects the organization wants to protect and which are left vulnerable and available for other teams to select in the December draft.
Will the Orioles protect RHP Cody Sedlock, their 2016 first-round draft pick out of Illinois, after making a drastic turnaround and putting together one of the more impressive pitching performances down on the farm last season? What about the hot name around town lately, RHP Gray Fenter? Recently named the most athletic prospect in the system by MLB Pipeline, will outfielder Ryan McKenna be added to the 40-man?
All of these questions and more will be answered by the end of the day. What we already know is that Mike Elias has already said he will look to protect “four or five” guys and that there are a few tough decisions to make.
The Orioles currently have 35 players on the 40-man roster, so they can protect up to five without making any additional corresponding moves. If Elias wants to go ahead and protect more than five, finding someone to jettison from the roster won’t be difficult, but even with active rosters expanding to 26 players next year, odds are low that teams come cleaning out unprotected Orioles prospects.
Baltimore has seven Top 30 prospects who are draft-eligible, with first baseman/outfielder Ryan Mountcastle (#4), RHP Dean Kremer (#8), and LHP Keegan Akin (#11) being no-doubters to be added to the 40-man.
OF Ryan McKenna (#13) has the speed and defensive abilities to make him an attractive option, but he struggled offensively in Double-A last season. My gut says he isn’t protected and the Orioles take the gamble on other teams passing on him due to his bat, which isn’t major league ready, quite yet.
The most intriguing decision will be whether or not Sedlock (#17) is protected. Are the Orioles going to buy into his 2019 performance (2.84 ERA, .202 average against,100 strikeouts in 95 IP) and development? Considering the financial investment and how he went from “bust” to symbol of what the Orioles development plan can do, Sedlock is very likely to be protected.
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Catcher Brett Cumberland (#29) is intriguing because of his offensive tools, but hasn’t produced much since joining the Orioles as part of the return for Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. I don’t see any reason that justifies keeping him around, and if he is left unprotected and picked up, so be it.
Fenter (#30) has become a hotly-debated name among Orioles fans, so much so, The Athletic’s Dan Connolly had plenty to say about Fenter’s status ($).
I have to say that I agree with Connolly’s assessment. I’m a huge fan of Fenter and thoroughly enjoyed watching him compile an 8-2 record with a 1.81 ERA, .185 average against, and 123 strikeouts in 94 innings with the Delmarva Shorebirds this season. However, he turns 24 in January and has yet to make it out of A-ball.
The Orioles likely won’t have to use a 40-man spot on Fenter and should still be able to keep around the organization in hopes that he can continue his development in Birdland. If so, after his dominant 2019 season and him now being three years removed from Tommy John surgery, he could become a fast riser through the system.
Wednesday is sure to be an exciting day with roster additions, roster subtractions, trades, and a few surprising moves. How exciting will it get for the Orioles?
All the speculation will end in just a few hours as final decisions are made. In the meantime, you can check out our deeper look into the entire list of Baltimore Orioles Rule 5 draft-eligible players here and let us know what you think. You’re the GM for the next few minutes, who are you protecting?
Stay tuned to @BirdsWatcherFS on Twitter and BirdsWatcher.com for updates and reactions throughout the day!