The Baltimore Orioles added more competition to their infield mix, claiming Richard Urena off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.
One thing is for certain, there was no shortage of activity around the league on this Friday afternoon. After reaching agreements with all of their arbitration-eligible players, the Baltimore Orioles claimed infielder Richard Urena off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays, per The Athletic’s Dan Connolly.
With the Orioles 40-man roster full, Baltimore designated infielder Pat Valaika for assignment to make room for Urena. Valaika was claimed off waivers from the Colorado Rockies back in October. If he clears waivers, he can stick around and provide infield depth in the minor leagues.
After posting a wRC+ of 9 and 34 in each of the past two seasons at the major league level with the Rockies, odds are he won’t be in high demand, if the Orioles are hoping he sticks around.
The addition of Urena is likely another sign that last year’s Rule 5 pick Richie Martin spends the 2020 season down in the minor leagues. But we’re still many weeks away from spring training games and final roster decisions.
Urena is a 23-year-old, switch-hitting shortstop with 91 career major league games under his belt, all with the Blue Jays. In 30 games last season, Urena hit .243 with a .273 OBP and a 23/2 K/BB ratio. Through 98 games in AAA, the infielder slashed .274/.314/..393 with 28 extra-base hits.
Urena doesn’t bring with him a big bat, recording a career .270 average in 680 minor league games with a .705 OPS, but does bring a solid glove and fielding ability to the roster. A little more strength up the middle can’t hurt, especially in Baltimore.
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Fangraphs had Urena as high as 4th on their list of top Blue Jays prospects back in 2017, noting his “plus-arm” and “potential to be an above-average hitter.” The bat has yet to come around at the major league level, but he’s still just 23 years old and brings more potential to the roster as a utility man than Valaika does.
Mike Elias didn’t fare too bad the last time he claimed a Blue Jay off waivers, adding outfielder Dwight Smith Jr to the roster last season. While his defense leaves much to be desired, Smith chipped in 32 extra-base hits in 101 games last season.
Urena doesn’t have any minor league options remaining, but there isn’t much competition on the roster for a utility spot and his ability to play around the infield, and even the outfield, could be valuable for the Orioles.
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Stay tuned for some more possible moves in the near future. MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting a deal is close with a free agent catcher on a minor league deal.