Baltimore Orioles: 2 Players We’re Glad We Moved on From and 1 We Wish Stayed
By Timmy Wilcox
As time and seasons go on, it's natural for teams to move on from plenty of players. It's necessary in the roster shuffle as teams try to become more competitive. However, some of these decisions turn out better than others. In the spirit of looking at Orioles past, here are two players we are glad aren't in Baltimore anymore, and one we wish still was.
One player we wish we kept
Evan Phillips, RHP, Los Angeles Dodgers
Former Orioles reliever Evan Phillips has burst out as one of MLB’s elite bullpen arms. The Salisbury, Maryland native pitched with the Birds across three seasons from 2018-2020 and never posted impressive numbers. Now, the right-hander is the closer for one of MLB’s best teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers.
After beginning his career with the Braves, the Orioles acquired Phillips in a 2018 trade involving Kevin Gausman and Darren O’Day. That same summer Phillips pitched 5.1 IP and allowed 11 earned runs, not too promising as a rookie.
Nonetheless, the Orioles brought him back in 2019 and he appeared in 25 games to the result of a 6.43 ERA. One positive from his second MLB campaign was the 40 strikeouts across 28 innings.
Brandon Hyde and Mike Elias gave Phillips one more chance the following year to prove that he could continue to adjust to big-league hitters but that adjustment never came to fruition in an Orioles uniform. In 14.1 IP, Phillips pitched to a 5.02 ERA and the Orioles moved on from him in the majors.
Two Baltimore Orioles players we're glad are gone and one we wish stayed
In 2021, Phillips pitched for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides for the first few months and struggled again to a 5.04 ERA across 25 frames. Baltimore released Phillips in early August and then he was claimed by Tampa where he wore the Rays uniform for a game before the Dodgers swooped in.
Ever since arriving in Los Angeles, Phillips has been a different player. In 7 games out of the Dodgers bullpen in the tail end of 2021, he pitched to a 3.48 ERA. This carried over to 2022.
Phillips broke out in 2022 when he had the best ERA among all qualifying MLB relievers. In 63 IP, the former 17th round pick in 2015 racked up 77 strikeouts and was straight up dominant to the point of a 1.14 league-leading ERA. He recorded 19 holds and converted 2 saves for the MLB regular season wins leader, Dodgers.
Now, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts trusts Phillips as the best closing option on the team.
"Evan is clearly the most consistent performer, versus left, versus right."- Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts
If the Orioles had developed Phillips to the level of where he is now in Los Angeles, they would have another elite bullpen arm that could help bring them closer to their playoff hopes.
Players we're glad are gone
Tanner Scott, LHP, Miami Marlins
Reliever Tanner Scott held a place in the Orioles bullpen for five years before the Birds dealt him to Miami at the start of 2022. Scott, the former 6th round pick in 2014, struggled with putting up consistent numbers during his time in Baltimore.
Scott debuted in September of 2017, known as a young pitcher with some gas in the tank. Scott developed into a piece that could regularly produce high 90s with his fastball but the issue was always his command.
His first two full seasons in the bigs, the left-hander hurled a combined 79.2 IP with an ERA above 4.70 each year.
The covid-season, 2020, was when Birds fans saw Scott produce his best numbers. Across 20.2 IP, Scott pitched to a 1.31 ERA and tallied 5 holds. The following year, 2021, Scott seemed to unravel a little bit. Playing in a career high to that point 62 games, Scott pitched to a 5.17 ERA and gave out 37 free passes across 54 innings.
The Orioles kept him around the next spring but then decided they’d seen enough, trading him and fellow reliever Cole Sulser to the Marlins to free up space in the bullpen.
This trade was a good one for the Orioles because it allowed Cionel Perez, Felix Bautista, and Bryan Baker the opportunities to finally pitch regularly in the big leagues and they became reliable bullpen options for the Birds down the stretch.
Last season with the Marlins, Scott put up a 4.31 ERA, striking out 90 over 62.2 IP. The Orioles main bullpen options (the three aforementioned plus Jorge Lopez and Dillon Tate) all produced better numbers than Scott with ERA’s below 3.50, nearly an entire run below Scott’s mark.
DJ Stewart, OF, New York Mets
Outfielder DJ Stewart is another former Oriole who is not missed very much. Some fans may even say that the former first round pick in 2015 overstayed his welcome. Throughout appearances over five seasons with the Birds, Stewart had an average of .213 and struck out 167 times over 195 games. There were times when the outfielder displayed below-average defense too.
Among the bright spots during Stewart’s Baltimore tenure was his 2021 campaign. That year, the left-handed-hitter bashed 12 long balls and reached base at a .324 clip. Stewart had a knack for drawing walks and reached base via the free pass 44 times over 100 games.
However, as the outfield began to get crowded with the likes of Cedric Mullins, Austin Hays, Anthony Santander and Ryan McKenna, Stewart’s abilities at the plate such as his .204 average in 2021 were not going to be competitive enough.
At the end of the day, Stewart was not playing the way that a first round talent should, and the organization moved on at the end of 2022.
Now, Stewart plays for the New York Mets triple-A affiliate. There he will look to compete for a spot in an already talented outfield group including Brandon Nimmo, Mark Canha and Starling Marte.