This January is sure to look a lot like last January for the Baltimore Orioles, which means not a lot of excitement.
Happy 2020, Birdland! If you’re in the same boat as myself, I’d also like to extend a welcome back to work. At least the weekend is just a day away and we are just a few weeks away from Baltimore Orioles baseball returning.
Ok, so 2020 Orioles baseball may be about as exciting as returning to work on a January 2nd that falls on Thursday, but at least it’s baseball!
Over the holidays, the Orioles made their first major league free agent signing in RHP Kohl Stewart. A former first-round pick of the Minnesota Twins, expectations were high for Stewart coming out of high school, but it’s been a difficult run for the 25-year-old, posting a 4.79 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, and a 34/26 K/BB ratio across 62 MLB innings.
If you’re hoping that the new year brings about more activity this offseason, that won’t be the case. This January is sure to look a lot like last January in terms of player acquisition. Odds are, you don’t remember any of the players acquired by Baltimore last January, except for some guy named Hanser Alberto. You may remember the name.
On January 4th, the Orioles claimed RHP Austin Brice off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels. He would be designated for assignment and claimed by the Miami Marlins one month later. Brice put up pretty decent numbers out of the Miami bullpen, going 1-0 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, .214 average against and 46 strikeouts in 44 innings. Orioles probably could have used him last season.
Four days later, the Orioles signed catcher Carlos Perez to a minor league deal. Perez had a fantastic season with the Double-A Bowie Baysox, hitting .251 with 14 home runs and 22 doubles. Coming off a big season in Double-A and with 212 major league games under his belt, Perez elected free agency earlier this offseason and recently signed with the Oakland A’s with an invitation to spring training.
January 11th proved to be a busy day in Birdland with the Orioles signing pitcher Gregory Infante and Bo Schultz to minor league deals. Schultz never made it through spring training before being released and Infante was released soon after thanks to VISA issues causing him to miss spring.
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Unless you followed the Norfolk Tides closely, Orioles fans never saw January 28th waiver claim Jack Reinheimer. The infielder spent all season in Triple-A, hitting .246 with a .659 OPS in 106 games. The 27-year-old signed with the Minnesota Twins last month.
Maybe, just maybe, the Orioles find a diamond in the rough like Hanser Alberto. Alberto was claimed off waivers for the first time by the Orioles on January 11th before rejoining the organization on March 1st.
Alberto finished 8th among American League qualified hitters with a .305 average, owned the lowest strikeout rate in the majors at 9.1%, and quickly became a favorite of many fans in 2019.
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Will January bring about that fourth catcher the Orioles want? How about that reliever or center fielder Baltimore is looking to bring in on a minor league deal? Try to contain your excitement while we await.