Baltimore Orioles 2024 Opening Day roster projection 4.0: Pivoting from Jackson Holliday

What...happened here?

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day
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Friday's news that Jackson Holliday would not break camp with the Orioles sent shockwaves through Birdland and caused many fans, myself included, to rethink our Opening Day roster projections. Like basically all of my NCAA Tournament brackets (seriously though, who had Oakland beating Kentucky??), my Orioles roster projections have now "busted." Time to draw up a roster without Holliday, who, after a tremendous spring, will start the year with the Norfolk Tides.

Version 4.0 of my projection series will explore how Holliday's demotion - as well as the demotion of Kyle Stowers, Heston Kjerstad, and Coby Mayo - affects the Opening Day roster projection.

2024 Baltimore Orioles Opening Day Roster Projection 4.0

Catchers: Adley Rutschman, James McCann (2)

This one is easy. No changes here. Rutschman and McCann will break camp as the Orioles' two catchers.

Infielders (7): Jordan Westburg, Gunnar Henderson, Jorge Mateo, Kolten Wong, Ryan Mountcastle, Ryan O'Hearn, Ramon Urías

The Orioles' opening day second baseman has gone from the likely Rookie of the Year frontrunner (though Texas' Evan Carter may disagree) to a likely veteran platoon situation following Jackson Holliday's demotion. Veteran left-handed hitter Kolten Wong, who exercised the opt-out in his contract Friday, will likely have his contract purchased and start against most right-handed pitchers until Holliday is deemed ready. Wong's leadoff solo home run Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays certainly did not hurt his chances. And, let's face it: the Orioles seem to love having a veteran, left-handed hitting second baseman on the roster, with Wong taking Adam Frazier's place in this apparently important role. Fortunately for the Orioles, Baltimore would only pay Wong a fraction of the $8M salary they handed out to Frazier last season. To Wong's credit, following a poor start to his season in Seattle, he slashed .300/.353/.500 over the final month of the season with the Dodgers. The Orioles would happily take such production until Holliday is ready.

With the Orioles scheduled to see a healthy dose of left-handed pitchers to start the year, including Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers of the Angels and Cole Ragans of Kansas City, righties Ramon Urías or Jorge Mateo will likely draw starts at second base as part of a platoon with Wong.

A dark horse for a bench spot could be Tyler Nevin, who has thus far survived every round of cuts and appears to be a favorite of Brandon Hyde's. However, with Urías, Westburg, Mateo, and Mountcastle all expected to make the team, it does not make sense for the Orioles to carry an extra right-handed hitting infielder at this time.

Outfielders (4): Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, Colton Cowser

While I was clearly wrong on my infield projection, it does appear that Version 3 correctly projected the outfield of Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, and Colton Cowser. Indeed, along with reassigning Holliday, the Orioles optioned Cowser's main competition for a left-handed hitting outfielder off the bench in Kyle Stowers and Heston Kjerstad. While Ryan McKenna remains in camp, the Orioles will likely make the tough, but correct, decision of designating him for assignment.